Paul Offit and the Vaccine Industry
By Sharyl Attkisson
For years some parents and scientists have raised concerns about vaccine safety, including a possible link to autism and ADD. Many independent experts have sided with government officials and other scientists who say there's no possible connection. But how "independent" are they CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson shares here's what she found.
But CBS News has found these three have something more in common - strong financial ties to the industry whose products they promote and defend.
The vaccine industry gives millions to the Academy of Pediatrics for conferences, grants, medical education classes and even helped build their headquarters. The totals are kept secret, but public documents reveal bits and pieces.
A $342,000 payment from Wyeth, maker of the pneumococcal vaccine - which makes $2 billion a year in sales.
A $433,000 contribution from Merck, the same year the academy endorsed Merck's HPV vaccine - which made $1.5 billion a year in sales.
Another top donor: Sanofi Aventis, maker of 17 vaccines and a new five-in-one combo shot just added to the childhood vaccine schedule last month. Every Child By Two, a group that promotes early immunization for all children, admits the group takes money from the vaccine industry, too - but wouldn't tell us how much. A spokesman told CBS News: "There are simply no conflicts to be unearthed." But guess who's listed as the group's treasurers Officials from Wyeth and a paid advisor to big pharmaceutical clients.
Then there's Paul Offit, perhaps the most widely-quoted defender of vaccine safety. He's gone so far as to say babies can tolerate "10,000 vaccines at once." This is how Offit described himself in a previous interview: "I'm the chief of infectious disease at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and a professor of pediatrics at Penn's medical school," he said. Offit was not willing to be interviewed on this subject but like others in this CBS News investigation, he has strong industry ties. In fact, he's a vaccine industry insider. Offit holds in a $1.5 million dollar research chair at Children's Hospital, funded by Merck. He holds the patent on an anti-diarrhea vaccine he developed with Merck, Rotateq, which has prevented thousands of hospitalizations. And future royalties for the vaccine were just sold for $182 million cash. Dr. Offit's share of vaccine profits? Unknown.
There's nothing illegal about the financial relationships, but to critics, they pose a serious risk for conflicts of interest. As one member of Congress put it, money from the pharmaceutical industry can shape the practices of those who hold themselves out to be "independent." The American Academy of Pediatrics, Every Child By Two and Dr. Offit would not agree to interviews, but all told us they're up front about the money they receive, and it doesn't sway their opinions. Today's immunization schedule now calls for kids to get 55 doses of vaccines by age 6. Ideally, it makes for a healthier society. But critics worry that industry ties could impact the advice given to the public about all those vaccines.
Orange County Register Corrects Paul Offit's Lies
An OC Register article dated Aug. 4, 2008 entitled "Dr. Paul Offit Responds" contained several disparaging statements that Dr. Offit of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia made about CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson and her report. Upon further review, it appears that a number of Dr. Offit's statements, as quoted in the OC Register article, were unsubstantiated and/or false. Attkisson had previously reported on the vaccine industry ties of Dr. Offit and others in a CBS Evening News report "How Independent Are Vaccine Defenders?" July 25, 2008.
Unsubstantiated statements include:
Offit's claim that Attkisson "lied"; and Offit's claim that CBS News sent a "mean spirited and vituperative" email "over the signature of Sharyl Attkisson" stating "You're clearly hiding something." In fact, the OC Register has no evidence to support those claims.
Further, Offit told the OC Register that he provided CBS News "the details of his relationship, and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's relationship, with pharmaceutical company Merck." However, documents provided by CBS News indicate Offit did not disclose his financial relationships with Merck, including a $1.5 million Hilleman chair he sits in that is co-sponsored by Merck.
According to the CBS News' documentation recently reviewed by the OC Register, the network requested (but Offit did not disclose) the entire profile of his professional financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies including: The amount of compensation he'd received from which companies in speaking fees; and pharmaceutical consulting relationships and fees.
The CBS News documentation indicates Offit also did not disclose his share of past and future royalties for the Merck vaccine he co-invented. To the extent that unsubstantiated and/or false claims appeared in the OC Register and have been repeated by other organizations and individuals, the OC Register wishes to express this clarification for their reference and for the record.
Voting Himself Rich: Paul Offit Made $29 Million Or More After Using Role to Create Market?
By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
Dr. Paul Offit of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) took home a fortune of at least $29 million as part of a $182 million sale by CHOP of its worldwide royalty interest in the Merck Rotateq vaccine to Royalty Pharma in April of last year, according to an investigation by Age of Autism. Based on an analysis of current CHOP administrative policies, the amount of income distributed to Offit could be as high as $46 million.
There is nothing improper about receiving compensation for a patented innovation; but the extraordinary valuation placed on CHOP's patents raises concerns over Offit's use of his former position on the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to help create the market for rotavirus vaccine -- to effectively vote himself rich...Read more
This website is brought to you by M.Wazowski, the parent of an autistic child.
"It's time for journalists to be honest about who Paul Offit really is."