Tag Archives: Opioids

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?