Tag Archives: New England Journal Of Medicine

Glaxo-Funded Vaccine Defender in BMJ Helped Spark Opioid Epidemic


The first major academic research to dispute a vaccine-autism link in the US was conducted by the same doctor whose 40-year-old letter is blamed for contributing to the opioid epidemic. Hershel Jick is the former director of the Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program at Boston University, heavily funded by the pharmaceutical industry including GlaxoSmithKline. He was senior author of a 2001 study in BMJ that disputed a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. The journal’s editor Fiona Godlee even cited the study in a presentation at the NIH 10 years later. She was speechless when Autism Investigated’s future editor confronted her about the paper’s failures.

Similarly in 1980, Jick authored a letter in New England Journal of Medicine denying the addictiveness of opioids. Since then, it’s been cited nearly 400 times. Over the following decades, the number of opioid prescriptions dramatically increased. Now the number of overdose deaths have spiked. Jick now regrets the letter:

“The letter wasn’t of value to health and medicine in and of itself. So if I could take it back — if I knew then what I know now, I would never have published it. It wasn’t worth it.”

Will he regret publishing his study defending the MMR vaccine?

Dear FDA Commissioner, Show Empathy and Acknowledge Vax-Autism Link

Scott-Gottlieb.com

According to the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in his Senate confirmation hearing:

As early as 2002, there was a study in Denmark that looked at 540,000 children and found no correlation.

And in his defense, the study itself does claim:

There was no association between the age at the time of vaccination, the time since vaccination, or the date of vaccination and the development of autistic disorder.

A Canadian statistician found otherwise. In his letter that was censored by the New England Journal of Medicine and subsequently published in an article that ran in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons:

Madsen et al. observed an adjusted rate ratio of autistic disorder after vaccination of 0.92 relative to no vaccination, when the crude rate ratio (my computation) was 1.45 (95% confidence interval 1.08-1.95). Moreover, the rate by time since vaccination increases to a high of 27.3 two years after vaccination (rate ratio 2.5) and decreases thereafter to 11.4 per 100,000 per year (Figure 1).

It is stated that adjustment for age eliminated these rate increases, but the corresponding data are unusual. Indeed, the rates of autistic disorder by age at vaccination, although not the age at follow-up, are 18.9, 14.8, 24.6, 26.9 and 12.0 per 100,000 per year respectively for ages <15, 15-19, 20-24, 25-35 and >35 months. These rates are all above the overall rate of 11.0 for the reference group of no vaccination, over all ages. It is then somewhat implausible for the adjusted rate ratio to fall below 1, unless the risk profile by age in the unvaccinated is vastly different than in the vaccinated (effect-modification). In this case, the adjustment for age could have been artificial. It would be useful then to present rates on subjects 24-29 months since vaccination and on the unvaccinated (crude rate ratio 2.5) stratified by age. Otherwise, one could be tempted to conclude that the figure is in fact suggestive of an association between MMR vaccination and the risk of autism.

Well Dr. Gottlieb, you did say you had empathy for autism families. Do you?