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Merck Lawsuit Reignites Vaccine Safety Concerns

Posted: 7/30/2012 1:36:10 PM | with 5 comments

By Theresa K. Wrangham, NVIC Executive Director
In 2010 two virologists, Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski, filed a lawsuit against their former employer and vaccine manufacturer Merck. The lawsuit, which was unsealed in late June, alleges that Merck defrauded the U.S. for over 10 years by overstating the MMR vaccine’s effectiveness.
The virologists claim in their lawsuit that they "witnessed firsthand the improper testing and data falsification in which Merck engaged to artificially inflate the vaccine's efficacy findings."
NVIC’s President and Co-Founder, Barbara Loe Fisher, was interviewed on July 10 by Dr. Joseph Mercola about this most recent lawsuit brought against Merck, which enjoys global vaccine sales totaling over $20 billion a year.
Is the fox guarding the chicken coop?
This is not the first time that quality control issues have been raised regarding Merck vaccines and Fisher points out during the interview that in 2010 Merck’s RotaTeq® vaccine was contaminated with a virus lethal to baby pigs.
During the interview Fisher discusses the dangerously cozy relationship and conflicts of interest that exist between federal agencies charged with vaccine safety oversight and vaccine manufacturers. NVIC has long been on record as calling for an independent investigation into federal agency conflicts of interest and the creation of an independent agency to oversee vaccine safety.
To view the interview, or download the transcript, click here.
NVIC Updates Measles, Mumps & MMR Webpages to Provide Consumers with Life-Saving Information
While this latest lawsuit comes as no surprise to NVIC, what are we doing to help consumers sort through information and enable informed decision-making?
We are updating our fully referenced disease and vaccine webpages and standardizing the information to be more easily understood by consumers. We recently updated our measles, mumps and MMR webpages. These pages represent a new level of cited, comprehensive information provided to the public to empower informed decision-making in vaccination.  
New to these pages is the Quick Facts box that gives consumers a quick overview of the disease and the risks and benefits of its vaccine(s), and links to vaccine manufacturer product inserts, MedAlerts vaccine reaction search engine and more. The Quick Facts box is followed by the more comprehensive and cited information that gives consumers in-depth information to assist in decision-making and features a clickable Topic Table of Contents to quickly navigate to the most frequently asked questions and other topics such as prevention and treatment options.
Our anthrax, diphtheria, herpes zoster (shingles), seasonal influenza, meningococcal and varicella zoster (chickenpox) pages have also had Quick Facts boxes added to enhance user friendliness.. We expect that all webpages for this section of our website will be fully upgraded before the end of the year. 
On another note, its that time of year – this season’s influenza vaccine product inserts are out for the upcoming flu season.  We have updated our influenza webpage with those new product inserts. 
More User-Friendly Website Enhancements!
We always try here at NVIC to make information easy for consumers to access. We also know that because we are dealing with information relating to vaccines that there may be medical terms used that are unfamiliar to our readers. We decided to make a change that will ensure that our content remains high quality, and yet allows everyone from all walks of life to understand it. To that end, our disease and vaccine pages have been upgraded with a new website widget from Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary. 
This dictionary widget floats down the webpage as it is read and allows users to type in words and medical terms they are unfamiliar with and get definitions on the spot.  We hope our readers find this enhancement helpful.
State Law Webpage Update Underway
The last website update I want to share is always our most challenging – our state law webpages. With the continued conflicts of interest between our federal agencies and industry, on-going vaccine quality control concerns and lack of government transparency with the public it is more important than ever before that our readers have access to accurate information about their state’s vaccination requirements and exemption provisions.
Our state law webpages see the most web traffic in comparison to all our other webpages. It is easy to understand why, given that NVIC continues to receive reports of vaccine harassment from parents, individuals and health care professionals by school districts, medical employers and physicians to smartly roll up their sleeves, no questions asked, and receive the full complement of vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
The landscape has become increasingly hostile for parents and health care professionals, who want to make informed, voluntary choices about vaccination. This is due largely to efforts by the pharma-backed medical trade lobby, which is aggressively making efforts to remove or restrict the right’s of parents and individuals to voluntarily vaccinate, as demonstrated in legislation introduced this earlier year in Vermont and California. 
NVIC is committed to providing to parents, health care professionals, and individuals a centralized place to turn to for information about their state’s vaccine requirements. Our state law webpages also provide exemption information, and daycare and higher education information relating to vaccination status for each state.
As of this writing 23 states have been updated and they are Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Virginia and West Virginia. These updates would not be possible without the help and passion of our volunteers Claire, Cristyn and Patty! 
Getting the Most from NVIC’s State Law Webpages
How can you get the most from our state law webpages?  Sometimes the links we provide leading to state website information don’t work.  If a link doesn’t work, it is likely it is because the information on the state’s website has changed – particularly where school vaccine certificates and exemption forms are concerned. States update their information according to their own schedule and we have little control over when a state breaks their link with our website.
The best way to get vaccine requirement and exemption information when a link is broken on our state webpages is to click on the state’s health department link or immunization program link provided in the Quick Facts box. These links are unlikely to be broken and typically it is the state health department, or its immunization program, that provides links to exemption forms and vaccination requirements. We hope that you will report any broken links on these pages to the email link provided in the Quick Facts box and we will make every effort to repair those links.
Of course getting this information is just one aspect of being an informed and savvy consumer.  It is equally important to protect existing rights that come under attack. The best way to receive alerts about attempts to limit or expand exemption rights in your state is to become a member of our free, online Advocacy Portal.
We would love to hear your comments on these enhancements and updates to our website!
NVIC Posts its Annual Report – Receives Acknowledgement for Transparency
NVIC is a well-known critic of the CDC’s recommended one-size-fits-all vaccination schedule. We continue to ask for more meaningful consumer engagement in vaccine policy-making, independent research to close vaccine safety gaps, resolution of conflicts of interest between industry and government and a higher degree of transparency with the public on vaccine risks and benefits.
NVIC values transparency and our directors, volunteers and employees sign a conflict of interest statement annually. NVIC accepts no funding from pharmaceutical companies marketing vaccines or government agencies promoting vaccines.  Recently, NVIC became a member of GuideStar’s Exchange Program, which requires that our organization meet certain transparency requirements. We have also made our annual report available to the public on our website and it can be found here.
We will keep our readers posted on developments in the Merck lawsuit and other NVIC.org website enhancements as we work to provide individuals, families and health care professionals with referenced information on diseases, vaccines and health.

Calendar News

Aug. 6, 2012 in Sacramento, CA:  Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing on AB2109 to restrict personal belief exemption to vaccination. Sign up today to be a user of NVIC’s Advocacy Portal and learn more about the hearing and how to be put in immediate contact with your legislators to make your voice heard.
Aug. 31, 2012 on Lifetime Network: “The Balancing Act” will broadcast their annual “Back to School” special that will feature a segment on vaccination and preventive health with celebrity Mom, Julie Moran, who interviews Barbara Loe Fisher and Vicky Debold, RN, PhD., NVIC's Director of Research and Patient Safety. Tune in that morning at 7 a.m.  
Oct. 13, 2012 in Chicago, IL: 9th Annual Natural Living Conference sponsored by Holistic Moms Network. Keynote speaker Barbara Loe Fisher on “Vaccines & Chronic Illness: Staying Well in the New Epidemic.” Early registration ends today.
In The News

FDA Faults Operation of Sanofi Vaccine Plants in Canada France, Bloomberg News, Jul 25, 2012

Chicken vaccines mutate into new virus, New York Daily News, Jul 16, 2012

Meditation, Exercise Could Protect You From The Flu, The Huffington Post, Jul 14, 2012

Vast F.D.A. Effort Tracked E-Mails of Its Scientists, New York Times, Jul 14, 2012

Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease: Potent Form Of Common Child Illness Deadly In Asia, The Huffington Post, Jul 12, 2012

H1N1 vaccine tied to small Guillain-Barre risk‎, Reuters, Jul 12, 2012

Bird Flu Is Three Steps Away From Possibly Lethal Human Strain, The Huffington Post, Jul 11, 2012

Posted: 7/30/2012 1:36:10 PM | with 5 comments


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