During the Congressional hearings, Waxman also suggested that Congressman Burton, because of his membership on the Honorary Board of the Autism Autoimmunity Project, a nonprofit organization, had engaged in a conflict of interest. Project President Ray Gallup responded to Waxman as follows:
April 14, 2000
Congressman Henry Waxman
2204 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congressman Waxman:
I'm writing you in reference to your mentioning our organization, the Autism Autoimmunity Project and Congressman Dan Burton, Dr. Vijendra Singh and Dr. Andrew Wakefield during the Congressional Autism hearings on April 6th that my wife, my autistic son, my daughter and I attended. I understand this was initiated after Congressman Burton asked Dr. Paul Offit what his connection to Merck was. I wanted to enlighten you that Merck makes hundreds of millions a year on selling products like the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and hepatitis B vaccines. They are in the business of making a profit. Also, Merck has not done any independent, long-term safety studies on their vaccines.
Our organization, the Autism Autoimmunity Project is a non-profit organization involved in research for autism and my wife, Helen, two other parents, Denise and Doug Totter and I are trustees. All members-at-large are non-salaried and are parents/grandparents of children with acquired autism, including Congressman Dan Burton. We are interested in autoimmune research that will help our children and feel strongly that Dr. Wakefield and Dr. Singh will provide important answers.
We started this charity in October 1998 when we saw that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would not fund Dr. Singh's research and that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) criticized Dr. Wakefield's important findings. As Dr. Singh mentioned, he applied three times to the NIH for funding and did not receive one dime. This is a perfect example of the NIH not caring about our children and not caring about doing something constructive to stem the epidemic of autism. The funding we provided for Dr. Wakefield, I'm sorry to say was a paltry $9,000.00 and I understand that the total support for Dr. Wakefield was $560,000.00.
So you see our support for Dr. Wakefield was not nearly enough nor was the support for Dr. Singh, that accounted for another $28,000.00. I wonder what proportion of Dr. Offit's research and educational turnover was Merck derived? Only then can the likely substance of bias or undue influence can be determined. To date, the work that Dr. Singh and Dr. Wakefield has done has not been funded by our organization but the funding we have provided will go to future research by them.
Your comparison of our organization to Merck is way out of line and unwarranted. I would hope that you will correct your viewpoint about our organization, our members and the research we are funding. If you don't feel that your viewpoint should be corrected, then you show that you don't care enough about our children and the autism community at large. I hope that you will support NIH funding for the type of work Dr. Singh and Dr. Wakefield are doing and motivate our government health officials to become more supportive rather than adversarial. The epidemic of autism in the U.S. and overseas is directly the result of an immune insult. We need to cut the ties between the NIH, CDC, and FDA and the pharmaceutical companies. They should represent the people of our country and not the pharmaceutical lobbyists.
I hope you will not play politics as usual and instead support Congressman Burton in his efforts on behalf of our children.
Raymond Gallup, President
Autism Autoimmunity Project
cc: Congressman Dan Burton Congressman John Tierney
Congressman Stephen Horn Congressman Chris Smith
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen Congressman Lee Terry
Congresswoman Constance A. Morella Congresswoman Judy Biggert
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Congressman Doug Ose
Congressman John M. McHugh Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton Hage
Congressman Steven LaTourette Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich
Congressman Jim Turner