Major Opponent of Vaccine Safety Commission Conspired Against Scientists

Former Maryland Secretary of Health Joshua Sharfstein left, with FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Twitter of FDA Commissioner

Last year, Joshua Sharfstein wrote an article in JAMA vocally opposing the creation of a vaccine safety commission under President Trump. Entirely undisclosed in his article was the conspiracy Sharfstein led against two scientists for their views on vaccine safety while he was Maryland Secretary of Health. Autism Investigated subsequently contacted JAMA‘s editor-in-chief. JAMA‘s legal counsel responded instead.

From: Jake Crosby
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2018 4:41 PM
To: Howard Bauchner
Subject: Joshua Sharfstein’s Undisclosed Conflict of Interest and Conspiracy Against Scientists
Dear Dr. Bauchner,

Last year, you ran an article by Joshua Sharfstein that opposed the Trump Administration’s commitment to vaccine safety.(1) Dr. Sharfstein omitted that as Maryland Secretary of Health, he led state government attacks on two vaccine researchers for their opposition to thimerosal in vaccines.(2)(3) By the time of Sharfstein’s article, a court ruled that the department he led violated their confidentiality by posting public their medical information.(4) Just last February, that same board Sharfstein was in charge of was ordered to pay them $2.5 million for its actions under Sharfstein’s leadership. The ruling judge even compared the actions of Sharfstein’s board members and staff to Watergate:

“If their testimony were to be believed, which the court does not, it is the worst case of collective amnesia in the history of Maryland government and on par with the collective memory failure on display at the Watergate hearings.”(5)

Sharfstein acknowledges in his article that a vaccine safety commission under Trump would also concentrate on scientific integrity. He has much to lose professionally and personally from the formation of such a commission due to his department’s conspiracy against two scientists for their views on vaccines. Given AMA’s organizational stance against the commission, it is all the more pressing for Dr. Sharfstein to disclose his department’s attacks on two scientists for their vaccine skepticism when he defends the existing public health system that he is a part of in JAMA.

Sincerely,

Jake Crosby, MPH

Disclosure: I have done my epidemiology thesis on vaccine safety with the Geiers in 2013 and received funding from Autism Media Channel and Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute. I was also a paid campaign field representative and a volunteer for President Trump and other Republican candidates during the 2016 election cycle. I edit AutismInvestigated.com.

1. Vaccines and the Trump Administration https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2614172

2. In the Matter of Mark R. Geier, M.D.: Order for Summary Suspension of License to Practice Medicine, P. 5, Clause 8. April 27, 2011. https://www.mbp.state.md.us/bpqapp/Orders/D2425004.271.PDF

3. “O’Malley Ousts David Geier from autism commission,” by Frank D. Roylance Baltimore Sun, May 20, 2011.
http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-hs-geier-autism-commission-20110520-story.html

4. “Court rebukes board for publicizing doctor’s confidential info,” Professional Licensing Report, February 11, 2016.
http://www.professionallicensingreport.org/board-in-trouble-for-public-release-of-doctors-confidential-info/

5. “Regulators who targeted anti-vaccine doctor may pay millions for humiliating him,” by Fenit Nirappil. Washington Post, February 3, 2018.

From: Joseph Thornton <Joseph.Thornton@jamanetwork.org>
To: Jake Crosby
Cc: Howard Bauchner <Howard.Bauchner@jamanetwork.org>
Sent: Fri, Jun 8, 2018 7:23 am
Subject: RE Joshua Sharfstein’s Undisclosed Conflict of Interest

Dear Mr. Crosby,

The Maryland Board of Physicians [MBOP] includes 22 members who are appointed by the Governor, not the state’s secretary of health. Complaints regarding Dr. Geier were filed with the MBOP years before Dr. Sharfstein was appointed Secretary. The documents you submitted and the timelines within them do not support the allegation that Dr. Sharfstein “led state government attacks on two vaccine researchers for their opposition to thimerosal in vaccines.”

Sincerely,

[Description: cid:image001.png@01CF9202.5B3F03C0]

Joseph P. Thornton, JD
Editorial Counsel
AMA Plaza, Suite 39300
330 N. Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611-5885
312-464-4609
joseph.thornton@jamanetwork.org

________________________________

From: Jake Crosby
To: Joseph.Thornton <Joseph.Thornton@jamanetwork.org>
Cc: Howard.Bauchner <Howard.Bauchner@jamanetwork.org>
Sent: Fri, Jun 8, 2018 5:53 pm
Subject: Re: Joshua Sharfstein’s Undisclosed Conflict of Interest

Dear Atty. Thornton,
 

Maryland’s Secretary of Health plays a direct role in the appointment of the majority of board members (boldface mine):

“11 practicing licensed physicians, including 1 Doctor of Osteopathy, appointed by the Governor with the advice of the Secretary of the Department of Health (MDH)”

“1 physician representative of MDH nominated by the Secretary(1)

 
A vaccine activist filed a complaint against the board in 2006, but the board suspended Dr. Geier’s license in 2011 only months after Sharfstein’s appointment. That timeline absolutely implicates Sharfstein’s role. The suspension also cites the Institute of Medicine’s 2004 report that attacked Dr. Geier’s research. Sharfstein writes about IOM in his JAMA article:
 
These reports blunted national concern and were one reason why the major outbreaks that occurred in Europe around that time (and since) have not been seen in the United States.
 
Sharfstein also leaves out of the article, his JAMA bio and disclosure statement that he was elected a fellow of IOM in 2014. 
 
Not only does the timeline of Sharfstein’s appointment correlate with Dr. Geier’s suspension, but Sharfstein’s resignation correlates with court decisions against the board. He announced in July 2014 that he would step down at the end of the year. According to the Professional Licensing Report article I cited, a board representative stood up a deposition by the Geiers’ attorney in June of 2014. The court would then grant the “ultimate sanction” in favor of the Geiers in December 2014, two weeks before Sharfstein actually stepped down.(2)
 
Joshua Sharfstein is completely conflicted. The kind of behavior his department engaged in and the fact that AMA’s and other physician groups’ positions are influenced by people like him is exactly why we need an independent commission to look into vaccines. Until that happens, I think the public should oppose them entirely. 
 
Sincerely, 
 
Jake Crosby, MPH
 
1. About the Board, Maryland Board of Physicians, Maryland Department of Health. Accessed June 8, 2018.
 
2. Anne Geier et al. v. Maryland Board of Physicians et al. Md. 371761-V, 1-11 (Circuit Court for Montgomery County, MD 2014)
 
 
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8 Thoughts on “Major Opponent of Vaccine Safety Commission Conspired Against Scientists

  1. David Weiner on June 16, 2018 at 5:33 pm said:

    Well done. Medical licensing is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It creates prosperity for members of the cartel that it facilitates. It reduces innovation and cost efficiency greatly. It does not protect the public, by any stretch of the imagination.

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