Thursday, February 12, 2009


Further update - read the links provided by our commenters below. The story gets curioser and curioser. (I have no idea why some links just works and others have to be pasted into browser. Our crack tech dept., which just got a new corner office (albeit in the basement) may know.

I do hope you are enjoying the new, wide-bodied PharmaLittle. An achievement that brought the Tech. Dept. plumbing and a hot plate.


Related to the story below, many of you will know the wider story of today's vaccine court decision rejecting claims of plaintiffs for autism linked to vaccines (solely). The story is in the NYT

Father of Autism-Vaccine Link Accused of Fudging Data

I am pasting in this summary just as Nathan contributed it to us. Thanks, Nathan!

It is probably accurate that we more often think of "fudging" done in the interest of market share than in the interest of academic egos or other self-interests (being on the take from plaintiff's' lawyers). If we do, we are in tune with surveys of public opinion more generally.

Speaking for myself, anyway, I have said more than once that I thought the overall level of integrity in pharma was at least as high as in academia, probably higher. The difference has more to do with the consequences when things go ethically south, although that also cuts in both directions.

Whatever the truth finally turns out to be in this case, it is a good reminder that no one has a corner on virtue--or the lack thereof.


Here's a story for you. It appears that the researcher who originally postulated a link between the MMR vaccine and autism may have fudged his numbers a bit. It goes to show you that there are influences on researchers from all directions - not just the ones we tend to think about on this site.

Here's a quote:LONDON, Feb. 11 -- The British researcher who first linked childhood vaccines to autism has been accused of falsifying data in a 1998 study published in The Lancet. The Times of London reported Sunday that Andrew Wakefield, M.D., apparently altered clinical findings on eight of 12 children whose cases were the basis for the study. The allegations follow disclosures in 2004 that Dr. Wakefield's research was partially, and secretly, funded by plaintiffs' lawyers in suits against vaccine makers, and that he had cut procedural corners in the research.


  1. Posted before It did not appear I will post again: it's an article from the NYT on a current case involving the MMR vaccine and autism:

  2. As always, there are two sides to this story.

    Dr Wakefield Responds to Recent Allegations in the UK Press

  3. Thoughts Regarding Autism Spectrum Neurodevelopmental Disorders

    Of these rare neurological dysfunctions, Autism is the most common of these passive developmental disorders. Autism is a disability that is suspected to be caused possibly by a brain development disorder of unknown cause, yet some suspect the cause is some sort of neurological dysfunction- possibly with a genetic predisposition. Autism is about 3 times more common in males than females as well.
    Usually, symptoms of the disease present themselves before the toddler reaches the age of three. Before Autism was more understood, others inaccurately labeled autistic people as childhood schizophrenia or as having a psychosis or mental retardation.
    Symptoms of the autistic patient included limited or dysfunctional social and personal or intimate relationships with others, their intelligence is affected, and the autistic person typically is adverse to change. Also, the autistic person tends to be compulsive and prefers to be alone. They lack eye contact as much as physical contact with other people.
    Out of over two dozen diagnostic criteria utilized for these disorders, eight must be present to be considered autistic, according to the DSM. As with all passive developmental disorders, the person expresses language, social, and behavioral difficulties.
    Treatment includes what are called psychotropic medications that delay the progression of the disorder, as well as relieve some of the symptoms of one who is autistic. Behavioral therapy is common as a treatment regimen as well. Boys get Autism much more than girls.
    Then there is the controversy between many who claim that thimerosal- a preservative containing mercury, which is a neurotoxin that was used in vaccines until 2001, was the catalyst for autism in children.
    Over 5000 lawsuits have been filed because of this belief, and some have been successful for the plaintiff. Yet most agree the correlation between thimersal and autism is void of scientific merit. Furthermore, the cases of autism have not decreased since the preservative was discontinued in 2001.
    Aside from Autism, the other four passive developmental disorders are known as autism spectrum disorders.
    Asperger’s Syndrome is more common than autism, and the symptoms are milder, as there is minimal delay in language abilities, if at all. What is expressed with Asperger’s syndrome is mild autistic symptoms. In time, the patient may express atypical personality disorders, though.
    While intelligence is within normal limits with the Asperger’s patient, social interactions and abilities preset difficulty for such a patient. As with Autism, medications and behavioral therapy are treatment regimens with one with this syndrome
    Rett’s Syndrome or disorder presents with not only atypical behavior, but also suffers from restricted physical growth and movement. There is cognitive and social impairment as well. The disorder affects mostly girls, and the cause is due to a gene mutation.
    Childhood Disintegrative disorder is rare, and is 10 times less common than autism. The disorder has a late onset with mild autistic symptoms. The disorder affects mostly boys, and regression is sudden and possible with this disorder. Skills lost with this disorder may be language, social, self-care, as well as play or motor skills. Decreased function or impairment with this disorder may include social skills and behavioral flaws. Central Nervous System pathology is a suspected cause of this disorder.
    Finally, there are passive development disorders that are not otherwise specified. This may include atypical autism, for example. Yet as with the rest of types of these disorders, the symptoms vary in their frequency and intensity, as well as the range of abilities of these developmental disorders vary widely as well.
    Medicinal treatment is believed to be not necessary for the management of the autistic person. However, cognitive and behavioral therapy prove to be most beneficial for all the different types of Passive Development Disorders that unfortunately exist for unknown reasons, yet further research should be done to discover both the etiologies as well as more effective treatment for the Autism Spectrum.
    Dan Abshear


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