Slate has coverage of the impending trial against vaccine makers over the inclusion of thimerosal – a mercury containing preservative agent – in childhood vaccines.
Luckily, the writers at Slate have done their homework. They present a laundry-list of denialist tactics from the anti-vax crackpots.
We’ve got the quote-mining
In April, the government-funded Institute of Medicine held a two-day workshop to discuss ways to research possible toxic causes of autism. Leading voices among the parents who believe in the thimerosal-autism link shared their views with Science publisher Alan Leshner, who ran the meeting, as well as senior government scientists. Two of the groups, Safe Minds and the National Autism Association, later issued a news release that appeared to distort the remarks of a CDC scientist to make it appear that he shared their views.
And as if I didn’t need another reason to dislike Joe Lieberman, he’s apparently joined in with Rep Dan Burton, a notorious Congresscrank.
The meeting probably wouldn’t have taken place without the support of several members of Congress, including Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind. Other activists have taken to harassing scientists whose results they don’t like.
We’ve got the fake experts:
Then there is the activists’ reliance on Dr. Mark Geier, a fixture as an expert witness in vaccine court, where he has testified about 100 times. Geier and his son, David, who holds an undergraduate biology degree, operate under various business names from a house in suburban Maryland. The special masters who run the vaccine court have tossed out their testimony on 10 occasions, and federal district courts have been similarly skeptical. One judge recently described Geier as “intellectually dishonest,” and a special master called him “a professional witness in areas for which he has no training, expertise, and experience.”
Geier and his son have published several journal articles claiming to show a link between autism and vaccines containing the mercury-based preservative thimerosal. But the papers have been contradicted by study after study, and the mainstream medical community has proclaimed their work on the subject to be bunk.
What’s amazing is that for all of the fear about “toxins” and mercury-poisoning, parents of autistic kids are perfectly willing to give their pre-pubescent children hormone treatments! Geier is a real dangerous quack.
Despite all the bad publicity, Geier has recently moved into a new arena–by becoming a doctor for autistic children. Geier claims to have treated 120 children in the past 2Â½ years with a powerful set of drugs he calls the “Lupron protocol.” Lupron, the trade name for lupreolide acetate, is a synthetic hormone most often used to treat prostate cancer or to carry out the chemical castration of sex offenders. It’s prescribed for children only to treat precocious puberty, a rare condition in boys.
His theory, stated in patent applications and a 2005 issue of the journal Medical Hypotheses, is that chelation fails to remove mercury from some children’s brains because the mercury binds to testosterone. Get rid of the testosterone with Lupron, the Geiers argue, and the mercury will come out with chelation.
The Geiers’ protocol, which they prescribe to some patients with whom they are in contact only by telephone, sometimes also includes Androcur, an even more potent prostate-cancer drug with side effects that include liver damage, depression, and blood-clotting disorders. Androcur is not FDA-approved and must be ordered from abroad.
This guy needs to be put in jail, if not for his stupidity but for practicing quack medicine (Nuerodiversity goes into detail) that could really harm these kids.
And finally conspiracy theories:
Heartbreaking as it is to see parents signing their children up for this treatment, it reflects the foxhole bonds among those convinced that the government and drug companies poisoned their babies with vaccines.
At the end of this litigation rainbow is a 2.5 billion dollar honey pot that these denialists are clearly trying to get their hands on. I, however, am pretty optimistic. It’s unlikely the Geiers will come off as credible witnesses. Any competent lawyer should be able to get a good Behe moment out of them, and prove this stuff has no scientific basis.