Thursday, March 18, 2010

Injecting a non-medicinal toxic substance

I am putting myself into the shoes of a scientist in 1929. There weren't many jobs for a scientist fresh out of school that year. Those were the bad times after the stock market crash. So what was there to do? You went to work for a pharmaceutical company testing ways to treat illnesses. The FDA did not yet exist. There was nothing to stop the budding scientist to use just about anything as an erstwhile antibiotic. As a matter of fact, what we now know as antibiotics, did not exist at that time. The most promising substance was an organic mercury compound to try to cure meningitis.

For millennia, mercury had been used to treat all kinds of diseases, and so when a meningitis epidemic erupted that killed all it afflicted, the use of an ethyl-mercury compound seemed like the ideal compound to try out, to see if it might work. The patients would most likely die. But what was there to lose? So nobody could fault the scientist to try something that might work. It had been tried out on animals already, and those animals, rabbits, did not die--at least not before they were killed--about a week after the start of the trial. Mercury was known to be very toxic even then; so these trials were surely not done frivolously.

The fatal error in these trials lay in the presumption that mercury was a fast toxin, that it was so toxic that it would kill right away. As is now known, organic mercury takes a long time to kill. Scientists discovered that not too long ago when an unfortunate researcher died at Dartmouth in 1997. It took her almost a year to die from a dose consisting of two drops of colorless liquid that she didn't recognise as being as toxic as it really was.

If, in 1929, the scientists had waited an extra five weeks, the rabbits most likely would have died from mercury poisoning. But as it was, the results looked good enough for the ethyl-mercury compound to be used as a topical antibiotic for wounds. It was then called Merthiolate. Some time in the early '30s it was also included as a preservative in vaccines.

The substance was never tested under current FDA standards. There were no drug trials for Merthiolate. Merthiolate was available at drugstores to put on boo boos and it was used as an antiseptic in hospitals for larger wounds.

Merthiolate has been taken off drug store shelves now. It's deemed not safe on boo boos any longer. You can't buy that pink fluid that was also sold as Mercurochrome. But for some reason vaccine preservative is still available by way of an injection of a flu shot. How is it that this substance is off the shelves topically but has just been deemed safe as a preservative in vaccines.

The preservative Thimerosal has been deemed safe by the vaccine court to inject into babies. Let me ask this question: How alright is it to inject a toxin into babies when the toxin is really just a preservative for the vaccine? How alright is it to inject a non-medicinal toxic substance into anybody?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A modest proposal

The families with autistic children lost their case, and now pediatricians and other scientists are breathing a sigh of relief. Science has prevailed. Hooray! It is a hollow victory for the vaccine makers and physicians. How much satisfaction can any one get from winning vaccine cases in court against parents who have nowhere else to go.

I don't know whether vaccines made those children autistic. I don't know anything about the lawyers' motives taking these cases. One thing I do know is that the last word has not been uttered on this subject.

First of all where is the science the special masters are talking about. These special masters are no scientists. They trust the statements of experts and put much credence into expert opinions. So how does a scientist actually tell whether his science is good or bad?

In general the gold standard is a double blind study. Did anyone do a double blind study to prove whether children did or did not get autism after they were or were not given Thimerosal? Of course not. That would be unconscionable, giving someone a substance that is suspected of causing autism. The only test of Thimerosal ever done was done on 22 meningitis patients in 1929. All of them died. Still after that small study Thimerosal was considered a useful preservative because it was apparently not the cause of death (death in those subjects was caused by meningococcus).

The one good thing about today's decision is that, since the special masters have decided that there is no chance that the Thimerosal in vaccines could have caused autism, a meaningful study should now be feasible. Since scientific evidence shows that Thimerosal is harmless, its testing should now not have any more obstacles. So that there won't be any further lawsuits or appeals, I have a suggestion: At birth, one group of babies will be given Thimerosal with Hepatitis-B vaccine, and the other group will be given Thimerosal-free Hepatitis-B vaccine. The representative sample size could be an even 100,000. Who will volunteer their babies? The first in line would surely be the special masters' and judges' and pediatricians' children. The vaccine/autism question can then once and for all be laid to rest.

How much do you want to bet that my suggestion won't fly?