Dr. Paul Offit’s Promo for ‘Bad Advice’ Falls Flat
Dr. Paul Offit was at the National Press Club in Washington, DC October 29th peddling his new book, “BAD ADVICE: Or Why Celebrities, Politicians and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information.” It is clear that Dr. Offit desperately wants to be the authority on vaccines. He already is the industry shill, but is he the authority? The opinion of the crowd in attendance at the event was a resounding NO.
Children’s Health Defense advocates, parents of vaccine-injured children, and scientists came from all over the United States to ask Dr. Offit questions. They pointed out in their respectful, thoughtful questions that they do their own research. Although Offit declined to take questions directly from the audience, it was a good day for parents everywhere to see Dr. Offit forced to have a moderator filter the written questions he did address down to the very basics so he could answer with one of his canned responses. And the harder questions from the group were never presented to him. Attendees also distributed the list of questions to those present at the event. Perhaps the media will use them to create their own list of probing questions to ask Dr. Offit?
Offit’s rhetoric sounded old and tired. He implied that parents should only listen to his vaccine science from his sources, but educated parents know that there are other more enlightened doctors to talk to and listen to. They know that they don’t need self-proclaimed and industry-funded vaccine “authorities” like Dr. Offit or other doctors who only listen to industry. Doctors used to rely solely on drug reps who peddled their own studies to bolster sales of their drugs. Perhaps some doctors, who are witnessing the string of ill-fated pharma horror stories and lies—about Vioxx, the opioid crisis and the like—or who are seeing vaccine-injured children day after day, have begun forming their own opinions and reading science that has them questioning the industry mantra and blanket statements that all vaccines are safe all the time for all children.
Such opinions that differ from Dr. Offit’s are not from fringe doctors peddling treatments for autism as he implied last night. In fact, Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of NEJM wrote in 2009 that “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor.”
The trusted physician and authoritative guidelines that Offit promotes were previously the only resource parents had to make health decisions. According to Wired Magazine, an unforeseen outcome of making Medline – an online government database of 11 million biomedical abstracts – free was that it was discovered by the public. This discovery has leveled the playing field in that the traditional mantle of physician authority has been shaken and for Dr. Offit, that is problematic.
Once, parents could only turn to flawed papers published by government agencies or to other pharma-supported sources exhibiting blatant conflicts of interest. Now, however, there are many high-quality independent studies that display scientific integrity, use rigorous methods and present the research in ways that the public can understand. Now parents have access to hundreds of thousands of peer reviewed scientific studies that contradict Offit’s infamous claim that babies can safely receive 10,000 vaccines at once. The bottom line is that today’s intelligent parents don’t need a pharmaceutical tycoon physician from Philadelphia with a “gift of gab” telling them what the industry wants them to hear.
Offit Wins the Lottery
Offit is an industry insider who has made millions from a patent for a rotavirus vaccine that is now recommended for every child in the U.S. To hear him tell it, the poor doctor was working away in a lab for the good of humanity, but in actuality, his years of vaccine work (supported by Merck) enabled him to win the lottery, as he told Newsweek when he sold his rotavirus vaccine patent.
Offit may be the mainstream bought-and-paid-for media darling, but he is losing ground with the public—and fast. “BAD ADVICE” is just another worn-out retread of every other book he has written. If things play out in the same way as with his other books, Offit’s pharma boosters will purchase “BAD ADVICE” in volume and give it to every doctor to push up its ratings on the bestseller lists. Offit’s book tells the masses to listen only to him and others like him, but people who attended last night’s event aren’t fooled. Parents who study science and make decisions for themselves and their families aren’t either.
And neither is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Mr. Kennedy has tried many times to debate Dr. Offit, but he refuses, saying that RFK Jr. is not an “expert.” Once again, Offit talks from his self-built bully pulpit. If Offit is the expert he claims to be, he would have an obvious advantage in a debate with Mr. Kennedy but Offit’s silence and refusal to engage seem to be saying that Offit knows better.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Challenges Dr. Paul Offit to a Debate with Experts
Mr. Kennedy in anticipation that Dr. Offit would again refuse a debate with him on the grounds that he isn’t an “expert,” has asked three leading scientific experts if they would be willing to debate Dr. Offit on the subject of vaccines and vaccine safety. Dr. Chris Exley, Dr. Christopher Shaw and Dr. George Lucier have all said yes. Children’s Health Defense hand-delivered a letter (dropped in below) to this effect from RFK Jr. to Dr. Offit last night at the promo event for “BAD ADVICE.”
Dr. Offit, we are waiting on your reply to debate the experts on vaccines. If you refuse, the reason will be obvious.
Oct. 29, 2018
Paul A. Offit, M.D.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
3401 Civic Center Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Dear Dr. Offit:
Your new book, Bad Advice: Or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information, appears poised to repeat one of your favorite arguments, namely, that scientists are the sole trustworthy purveyors of health information. The notion that non-scientists, no matter how educated or credentialed, have nothing to contribute to discussions about health has been a running theme in many of your books and lectures, and particularly in the realm of vaccine safety.
This is the reason you give for continually rebuffing my requests that you participate in a public debate with me about vaccine safety. In recognition of the theme of your new book, I would now invite you to debate three top-flight and extensively published researchers whose academic standing and contributions to science are beyond dispute: Professor Chris Exley of the United Kingdom’s Keele University, Professor Christopher A. Shaw of the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Dr. George Lucier, former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Environmental Toxicology Program. Drs. Exley, Shaw and Lucier are precisely qualified to dispute your reckless, dangerous and scientifically baseless assertions that aluminum adjuvants and mercury preservatives in our vaccines are harmless or even “beneficial.”
Dr. Exley, the Group Leader of the Bioinorganic Chemistry Laboratory at Keele University’s Birchall Centre, has devoted his lengthy career to understanding the toxicology of aluminum in humans and other biological systems. His groundbreaking article on aluminum in the brain tissue of deceased autistic individuals (published in March 2018 in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology) reported “some of the highest values for aluminum in human brain tissue yet recorded,” including unaccountably high amounts in young people. Dr. Shaw’s laboratory at UBC focuses on neurotoxins and neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease. Recent publications by Dr. Shaw and colleagues have raised a number of important questions about the toxicity of aluminum adjuvants in vaccines. Dr. Lucier has presented evidence to the Institute of Medicine and others that ethylmercury in thimerosal-containing vaccines “should be considered equipotent to methylmercury as a developmental neurotoxin.” Taken together, the three researchers’ findings highlight significant gaps in our understanding of vaccines’ potential relationship to the epidemics of neurodevelopmental disorders and autoimmune and chronic illnesses affecting so many of today’s children.
Your book title and press releases suggest that, in contrast to “celebrities, politicians and activists,” you consider yourself to be eminently qualified to furnish health information in a truthful and unbiased manner. I would like to take this opportunity to inquire as to whether your own substantial financial entanglements with the $52 billion vaccine industry—conflicts you deliberately conceal from your allies in the mainstream media—should disqualify you from representing yourself as a neutral and trustworthy voice in this contentious debate. You have accepted tens of millions of dollars from vaccine companies for your work as the primary spokesman for the industry. You occupy a chair at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia endowed with a $1.5 million grant from Merck, and you were a co-developer, with Merck, of the RotaTeq rotavirus vaccine.
Indeed, your financial conflicts of interest with the vaccine industry since the early 2000s, during your tenure on a key Centers for Disease Control vaccine panel, were the subject of two federal investigations. While sitting on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), you voted to add a rotavirus vaccine to the CDC childhood vaccine schedule. You neglected to recuse yourself despite the fact that you had your own rotavirus vaccine patent in development. Six years later, thanks to the inclusion of rotavirus on the CDC schedule, you and your business partners were able to sell your patent for $186 million. This self-dealing transaction in which you effectively “voted yourself rich” was condemned by a 2003 congressional investigation and a 2008 investigation by the HHS Inspector General. Congressman Dan Burton described the “paradox” of the CDC “routinely allow[ing] scientists with blatant conflicts of interest to serve on influential advisory committees that make recommendations on new vaccines, as well as policy matters,” even though “these same scientists have financial ties, academic affiliations, and other vested interests in the products and companies for which they are supposed to be providing unbiased oversight.” When ACIP added your vaccine (RotaTeq) to the childhood vaccine schedule in 2006, policy-makers of the time acknowledged that the vaccine was “one of the most expensive” and potentially lucrative ever added to the schedule. Critics of the decision wondered why we were mandating a ruinously expensive and shoddily tested vaccine for tens of millions of children to combat mild illness that accounts for only a few dozen deaths in the United States annually.
You routinely talk about RotaTeq’s achievements, but you have never publicly commented on the elevated rate of agonizingly painful and sometimes deadly intussusception observed in recipients of RotaTeq nor on the vaccine’s contamination with DNA fragments from two porcine circoviruses known to cause serious wasting disease in pigs. Scientists and public health experts suggest that your vaccine may be infecting millions of children each year with these viruses. Since the vaccine was never properly safety tested against inert placebos, we may never know the truth.
In a 2011 interview on National Public Radio’s “Science Friday,” you denigrated “professional anti-vaccine people” for relying on “ad hominem attacks” rather than using science. Yet when you paint those who question your unsound and often wild assertions about vaccine safety as being “false prophets” and “slick charlatans,” while at the same time refusing to debate me or acknowledge the over 1500 peer-reviewed scientific publications cited in my book, Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak, linking mercury and aluminum in vaccines and the exploding epidemic of chronic diseases and neurological disorders in children born after 1989, it is clear that you, in fact, strongly prefer the ad hominem route.
In August, 2008, you attacked a skeptical reporter, CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson in an article published in the Orange County (OC) Register (“Dr. Paul Offit Responds”), making “disparaging statements” about Attkisson. Two and a half years later, the OC Register was forced to publish a lengthy correction indicating that you had made a number of “unsubstantiated and/or false” statements. According to the OC Register, you untruthfully claimed that you had provided CBS News with the details of your financial relationship with Merck (after the network requested information about your speaking and consulting fees and past and future RotaTeq royalties), even though you had not furnished any of the requested information. In fact, you have repeatedly been cagey about your share of the RotaTeq royalties, stating only that it was “like winning the lottery.” Your net worth is currently reported to be $19 million—not bad for a physician employed by a hospital where the average physician salary ($144,200) is 9% below the national average.
A debate with Drs. Exley, Shaw and/or Lucier would provide you with a timely opportunity to answer your critics and defend your contentions about vaccine safety and to explain the etiology of the chronic health disorders now affecting 54% of American children. I look forward to your favorable reply.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Chairman
Children’s Health Defense