By Jake Crosby
On July 16th, 2001, Mark Blaxill gave a presentation to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) titled “The Rising Incidence of Autism: Associations with Thimerosal” despite his lack of scientific credentials, publication record or official title within any major autism organization – unlike any of the other speakers. His presentation elevated public perception of him to that of a chief proponent of thimerosal’s role in causing autism, especially concerning its epidemiological correlation. Ironically, he would later publicly backtrack on his position on thimerosal, purportedly based on statistics from the same database he presented on in his 2001 presentation – an apparent act to throw the omnibus autism cases and deny justice to 4,900 vaccine-injured children. Yet it all began with his invited IOM presentation in 2001 where he lacked the qualifications of the other invited presenters. What he did not lack, however, was employment with a consulting firm with a large number of pharmaceutical clients.
David Kirby‘s book “Evidence of Harm” misrepresents Blaxill as having presented to IOM on SafeMinds‘ behalf, but in fact Blaxill would not join SafeMinds for another year. A search for his name on PubMed does not return any hits prior to 2002. His only advanced degree was an MBA. Although his board membership with SafeMinds would not begin for another year at the time of his IOM presentation, his then-employment with the extensively pharma-tied firm Boston Consulting Group had already lasted two decades. He also used his work email address in his autism advocacy and consulted for Merck, having visited the company’s headquarters in New Jersey.
Mark Blaxill’s autism-related activities before his IOM presentation appeared limited to writing the occasional emailed newsletter for a group called Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT). He did not yet hold any official position within SafeMinds.
At the time of his 2001 IOM presentation of autism prevalence (how common autism is) in California’s developmental services system which he conflated with incidence (how frequently new cases occur) in his title slide, IOM’s sponsor, CDC, was already looking at that same data to see how it may be used to absolve thimerosal. Two years later, CDC then published a graph from Blaxill’s presentation in a paper aiming to clear thimerosal that also included data from international fugitive Poul Thorsen’s fraudulent research while it was still in press at the journal Pediatrics.
As the graph was merely correlative, it was hardly a threat to CDC, which had no problem publishing it in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM). Living up to public expectation of Blaxill being not only a chief proponent but also a chief defender of thimerosal’s role in causing autism, he then wrote a scathing letter to AJPM accusing the authors of misrepresenting his work. He would later call Thorsen’s paper “uninformative and potentially misleading” following its publication.
But only a few years later, he would publicly backtrack on his position on thimerosal’s role in causing the autism epidemic. His pretense was the continued increases in California developmental services department’s autism caseload among younger children, despite the admitted prematurity of such data based according to the state’s own health department. This was the very database from which Blaxill used statistics in his 2001 IOM presentation to elevate his position as a thimerosal-autism-link proponent in the first place.
In 2007, Mark Blaxill unwittingly revealed his earlier change in position to be more likely an act than anything else, when he cited Thorsen’s own fraudulent research in an email to an omnibus petitioner to defend thimerosal – the very research Blaxill dubbed “uninformative and potentially misleading” years prior. This led to the throwing of 4,900 omnibus cases, for which he acted as a consultant to the lead attorneys. Later that same year and long after IOM was found to have secretly decided it would never say autism is a true side-effect of vaccination, Mark Blaxill participated in an “Autism and the Environment” IOM meeting heavily sponsored by pharmaceutical interests and which never mentioned vaccines. Although by 2007 he left his job with the pharma-tied Boston Consulting Group (BCG), he maintains connections to the firm through his ongoing board membership of a non-profit both directed and funded by BCG.
With his changing the topic of the 2012 congressional hearing from CDC autism research fraud to the federal response, his deliberately avoiding mention of “vaccines” in his congressional speech and his continued undermining of any congressional investigation into the fraud committed by Thorsen and other researchers used by CDC and IOM to justify thimerosal’s use, Mark Blaxill’s activities over the years are consistent with those of an infiltrator. Similarly, his sudden rise to prominence as a perceived advocate against thimerosal with his 2001 presentation at IOM is consistent with the actions of a person who had been planted there.
Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.