Hilary Butler, freelance journalist
Re: Geoff Watts just doesn't get it...
Email Hilary Butler
It seems that the media just doesn't "get it". By and large, they tow the
"party line". Whatever that is. Right now, is "bash anything to do with
The reason that the media got on the Andrew Wakefield bandwaggon, was that
at the time, he looked like "part of the party". And being part of the
party, surely the issue had some validity. And great eye-catching, "caring"
headlines, implying that "we the media, love our children".
This looked to the media like "win/win journalism". Which means that the
issue wins, and the media gets to look good, and sell lots of papers.
The media hates "lose/lose" journalism. Which is why people like me know
not to go to the media. And which is now why most are bagging Andrew
Wakefield. He is "costing" them too much, in the eyes of the medical
profession. Again, the "party" matters most.
Many of us started screaming about the issue of mercury in vaccines years
ago. 1984 to be precise.
Not long after a Russian Immunobiological journal had this to say:
"The components of B. pertussis antigens and thimerosal solutions have been
found to produce the most pronounced cytotoxic effect on the cells. The
comparison of the results of the titration of adsorbed DPT vaccine in cell
cultures with clinical manifestations has shown correlation between a
greater degree of cell damage in vitro and severe local reaction."
The above medical article can be found here
The same authors then also said this:
"The toxic action of preparations kills and damages the cells at the site
of injection, thus inducing the formation of autoantigens whose effect on
the body cannot be predicted. Thus thimerosal, commonly used as
preservative, has been found not only to render its primary toxic effect,
but also capable of changing the properties of cells. This fact suggests
that the use of thimerosal for the preservation of medical biological
preparations, especially those intended for children, is inadmissible."
This medical article above can be found here
When showing these articles, and a few others to both medical people, and
the media in the 80's comments varied from "What would you expect in a
backwater like Russia?" to "There factory processes must be worse than
those in the third world."
In other words, discredit the "messenger" ~ they could not believe that
there could be any "truth" in it. Besides, in those days, children didn't
get that many vaccines, and in this country, not before three months of
And no, the Russians did not use animal tissue cultures for their tests.
They used human cell cultures. This medical article can be found here
Unfortunately for some of us, the media used Wakefield to derail the real
issue. To those who really know the A - Z of the issue, MMR is simply, for
some children, the straw that breaks the two-humped camel's back. Other
children don't need an MMR to get vaccine-provoked disintegrative disorders.
The real issue is that vaccination in the first few months of
neonate"hood", increases mercury levels in the blood of infants (1)
Do you think this is a good thing, and that this does no harm at all?
(Oh, and by the way, what happens to the aluminium???)
Or will the media continue to try to dismiss the issue by attempting to
shoot the messenger because now they just wish "Wakefield" would go away?
The medical profession on the other hand, could do all parents a favour, by
trying to get their heads around some very basic issues, for the sake of
the children in this world, who have been needlessly needled with mercury,
and who are routinely given drugs "off-label". It is no good you or the
media, saying that "thiomersal has been used for 60 years."
If you are 60, you might, if you were unlucky, have had one minute dose of
thiomersal given you in your first year of life. But these babies get
multiple doses before three months of age.
You didn't, they do. And if they start shooting influenza vaccines into wee
babies this year, those are NOT mercury free either.
If you (media and medical people) look at the editorial published in
reference (1) you find sentences like this: "Although there are currently
no health guidance values for ethylmercury, existing pharmacokinetic and
toxicologic data suggest that ethylmercury behaves similarly to
methylmercury, and experts therefore consider the methylmercuiry exposure
guidelines appropriate" (page 571.)
Quote from the same paper "The addition of a number of important vaccines
over the years has increased exposure to mercury among infants. When
assumptions are made about the form of mercury, its route of exposure by
injection, and the dosing intervals involved, in administration of
vaccines, some infants may now be exposed to cumulative doses of mercury in
the first six months that exceed the US Environmental Protection Agency
limit of 0.1 ug/kg/d for chronic (ie long-term) daily exposure to
methylmercury. However, this maximum cumulative exposure does not exceed
either the Food and Drug Administration acceptable daily intake of 0.4
ug/kg or the Agency for Toxic Substances and disease REgistry health
guidance values of 0.3 ug/kg/d." (sorry about the u for nano)
And if, as Professor Boyd Haley has shown, some babies can NOT get rid of
mercury, ...what then?
It seems to be conveniently dismissed as if neonates "are just small adults".
They are not. Neonates of all species have very different biochemistry and
immune systems to adults, and that is an issue and problem that the
pharmaceutical industry has yet to either admit or grapple with.
But you, (BMJ) brought this issue up, in another dimension, in 2000 (2)
when you said:
"Concern has been raised by health professionals and politicians regarding
the lack of scientific data on the use of medicines in children. .... The
pharmaceutical industry has been reluctant to study medicines in children
for various reasons. These include the limited financial returns, the
difficulty of organising clinical trials in children, and concerns about
Professor Choonara said:
"As a paediatric clinical pharmacologist I have a clear conflict of
interest in that I wish to ensure that appropriate clinical trials are
carried out. However, as a parent and a paediatrician I have a bigger
conflict of interest in that I wish to ensure that children receive
medicines that have been proved to be effective, safe, and of high quality.
Medicines are clearly essential for the care of children. These medicines
need to be tested scientifically as part of a controlled clinical trial.
The alternative is to continue to force paediatricians to use these
medicines without an evidence base. Such a situation has already resulted
in the death of at least 15 children from the use of propofol as a sedative
in critically ill children.11 If propofol had been studied as part of a
clinical trial, one death would have led to an urgent reappraisal of the
trial and treatment. We cannot allow the lives of other children to be put
at risk by not establishing an evidence base for the use of medicines in
In the same year, the Washington Post (3) published the fact that Ritalin
which is prescribed to very young children had never been tested on that
age group (under 6's) and yet, between 150,000 - 200,000 children between
the ages of 2 and 4 were prescribed Ritalin.
That this has not dawned on the medical profession "out there" is not
surprising, since most paediatricians in my experience, do not know, or
realise, how many drugs they use for babies that are essentially untested
in babies. Or, as you put it.. "off-label"
In the strict sense of scientific accuracy, that is the situation that
STILL exists, to this day, with regard to most drugs, and all neonatal
In December 2000, the New York Times had an article (4) which starts out:
**** "In the 1960s, several newborn babies died after being given an adult
antibiotic that their tiny livers could not break down, proving that, when
it comes to medicine, children are not just ``little adults.''
Despite that lesson four decades ago, pediatricians remain in the dark
about how most medicines affect their patients. Only about a fourth of all
drugs have been tested in children, leaving doctors at times guessing at
the best treatments." ****
Would that it would be so simple, that Drug firms could NOW actually STUDY
Not so, for in the Wall Street Journal (5), Rachel Zimmerman reported
"Soon, Dr Kessler announced an FDA rule he hoped would finally move the
drug industry. It said that to get drugs labeled for use in children,
companies in many cases no longer had to conduct large, expensive efficacy
trials with children. They could do simpler tests to establish safety and
dosing ranges. Despite the relaxation, companies continued to forgo label
changes, rather than pursue pediatric clinical trials."
In a page no longer available, but which I printed out, the BBC reported on
13 February 2001, under the heading "Newborns 'face higher drug risks' "
*** "A missing gut chemical (cytochrome P450) means babies are at far
higher risks of side-effects from drugs designed for use in adults or
children. The research, at Sheffield Univerisyt adds weight to arguments
for fuller testing of adult medicines before they are declared suitable for
much younger children.
... currently 40% of drugs used to test children are not licenced for that
purpose - while 65% of those used on babies are being prescribed outside
the terms of their licence, or ar not licenced at all." ***
Dr Johnson declared "Much work needs to be completed in the area of
paediatric clinical pharmacology".
As Professor Bonnie Dunbar said to the Unites States Senate:
"I would challenge any colleague, clinician or research scientist to claim
that we have a basic understanding of the human newborn immune system. It
is well established in studies in animal models that the newborn immune
system is very distinct from the adolescent or adult. In fact, the immune
system of newborns in animal models can easily be perturbed to ensure that
it cannot respond properly later in life."
I believe that this is the situation some of our vaccinated babies will
face in the future, because the medical profession has failed to establish
the real toxicity and effects from vaccines (and drugs) in a patient group
of extreme pharmacological vulnerability.
These are the real issues to be addressed by both the media and medical
Not complaining about the ROLE of the media.
(1) Pediatrics. May, 2000; 136 (5): 679 - 681.
(2) BMJ 2000;321:1093-1094
(3) Washington Post, January 2, 2001, Page TO6 Author Jennifer Huget
(4) "Drug Firms Studying How Medicines Affect Kids" December 16, 2000
(5) February 5, 2001, "Drug Makers Find awindfall Testing Adult Drugs on
(6) May 12, 1999, Senate Hearing regarding the Hepatitis B vaccine.