Wednesday, January 30, 2008

U.S. Doctors Club ABC-TV Show on Autism & Vaccines

by Barbara Loe Fisher

I sighed with recognition when I learned that the leadership of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) had written a letter and issued a press release on Jan. 25 calling on ABC-TV to cancel tomorrow's premiere episode of a fictional drama about a family whose child regresses into autism after vaccination. On the same day, the American Medical Association (AMA) called on ABC to "mitigate the harm this episode may do" such as re-writing the script.

The CDC-funded Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) also piled on ABC-TV, urging doctors to put pressure on the network to cancel the broadcast while seven former directors of the CDC maintained in a Jan. 29 March of Dimes press release that "The implication that vaccinations cause autism is irresponsible and counter productive."

This latest coordinated attempt by physician leaders of America's medical establishment to muzzle the media's exploration of vaccine risk issues that have been making headlines for nearly three decades is reminiscent of the coordinated denials of vaccine risks by these same physician leaders in April 1982 when NBC-TV broadcast the documentary "DPT: Vaccine Roulette." It was a landmark documentary which earned television journalist Lea Thompson an Emmy and initiated a public dialogue that would change the course of medical history.

In 1982, when the NBC-TV documentary exposed the dangers of DPT vaccine, physician leaders in the AAP, AMA, CDC and other medical organizations joined together to discredit Thompson and everyone associated with the broadcast. An article in the July 1982 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) labeled the NBC-TV documentary "biased, histrionic and inaccurate" and even "amoral and psychopathic."

William Foege, M.D., then director of the CDC and one of the seven former CDC directors who endorsed the March of Dimes press release now criticizing ABC-TV for airing a fictional episode about vaccines and autism, in 1982 declared that the NBC- TV report about DPT vaccine risks was "an unbalanced view - bias, in my view, and inaccuracies to carry its destructive message.....not an example of responsible journalism."

In 1983, a year after the documentary aired, reporter Thompson explained "The AAP put out the word the day we did our story that the story was inaccurate and not to worry. When a reporter calls a local doctor or hospital or medical center, he speaks to doctors who have been told by the AAP and AMA not to worry. To my knowledge, pediatricians in this country have heard absolutely nothing from the AAP on DPT since then." (quoted in DPT: A Shot in the Dark)

Three years later, the U.S. Congress would acknowledge the reality of DPT and other vaccine brain injury and death by passing the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. This societal acknowledgement was followed by the publishing, in 1991 and 1994, of four reports by the Institute of Medicine that DPT vaccine can cause brain inflammation and permanent brain damage and that other childhood vaccines can cause varying degrees of brain and immune system dysfunction, as well as death. In 1996, after parents of vaccine injured children had lobbied industry and government for 14 years, the FDA licensed a purified DTaP vaccine for babies.

To the credit of the owners and management of ABC-TV, the network has so far refused to cancel the premiere episode of Eli Stone that features a family struggling with issues familiar to parents whose children regress into autism after vaccination. Since 1982, Americans have depended on members of the Fourth Estate to illuminate for the public the scientific, medical, economic, political, social and ethical issues involved in the vaccine safety and informed consent debate. Hopefully, ABC-TV and all print and broadcast media outlets will hold the line against this latest threat to freedom of thought and expression by a medical community determined to silence people crying out for recognition and help for their vaccine injured children.

Parents deserve more from the pediatricians and doctors, who they entrust with their children's lives, than denials, hostility and disrespect. They deserve to have their questions about vaccination answered honestly; their concerns about vaccine risks taken seriously; and their children treated with the same compassion that doctors would treat their own children. They expect that, when their children regress after vaccination into poor health, pediatricians will leave no stone unturned, including exploring the possibility that vaccine(s) played a role in their child's development of autism, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, epilepsy, asthma, diabetes, arthritis, intestinal bowel disorders and many other kinds of brain and immune system dysfunction.

Mothers and fathers expect that - whether or not mercury preservatives in vaccines have or have not been "proven" to be the cause of the autism epidemic - that pediatricians and all doctors would instinctively adhere to the "First do no harm" precautionary principle and support the immediate removal of a known neurotoxin from vaccines they inject into babies. Parents do not expect doctors to collectively stick their heads in the sand and turn away from their responsibility to find out why the biggest epidemic of chronic disease and disability among children in the history of our nation is associated with the more than doubling of the numbers of vaccines doctors give to them in the first few years of life.

In 1983, when pediatrician leaders of the AAP Redbook Committee met with co-founders of the National Vaccine Information Center to discuss DPT vaccine brain injuries, I begged them to take seriously the reports by parents that their children were regressing physically, mentally and emotionally after vaccination so that steps could be taken to minimize the risks. I warned them that "a system that will not bend will break."

In 2008, after 26 years of waiting for pediatricians to open their eyes and realize that leaders in the AAP, AMA, and CDC have betrayed their trust by denying the truth about vaccine risks, parents are taking matters into their own hands. If the mass vaccination system breaks, the blame can be put squarely at the feet of doctors who have waited too long to stand up and say "The lie stops here and now with me."


Nicole Nichols
Senior Vice President of Entertainment Communications for "Eli Stone"
Phone: (818) 460-5267

Charissa Gilmore
Vice President of Media Relations for "Eli Stone"
Phone: (818) 460-7950

"ABC said on Monday it would include a disclaimer about the plot line of the debut episode of the drama "Eli Stone," which links childhood vaccines to autism, and direct viewers to a government Web site that discredits such a link. The decision follows a call by the American Academy of Pediatrics for ABC to cancel the opening episode of "Eli Stone," which is scheduled to be broadcast at 10 p.m. Thursday." - Edward Wyatt, New York Times (January 29, 2008)

ABC Show Will Go on, Over Protest by Doctors

New York Times
January 29, 2008

by Edward Wyatt

Click here for the URL:

ABC said on Monday it would include a disclaimer about the plot line of the debut episode of the drama "Eli Stone," which links childhood vaccines to autism, and direct viewers to a government Web site that discredits such a link.

ABC's decision follows a call by the American Academy of Pediatrics for ABC to cancel the opening episode of "Eli Stone," which is scheduled to be broadcast at 10 p.m. Thursday.

In a letter to ABC executives on Friday, Dr. Renee R. Jenkins, the president of the pediatrics academy, warned that the episode "could lead to a tragic decline in immunization rates." The first episode portrays a lawyer who wins a case against a drug company on behalf of a mother who believes that a preservative in a vaccine caused her child's autism.

The link between a vaccine preservative called thimerosal and autism has been debated for much of the last decade, but many scientific studies have failed to show any causal link between the two. The letter from the pediatrics group followed an article in The New York Times last week highlighting the episode. Greg Berlanti, a co-creator and executive producer of the series, said that executives at neither ABC nor its ABC Studios production unit had any qualms about the episode, which he said he believed showed both sides of the argument.

Most public health organizations believe there is only one side, however. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization are among the organizations that have studied and rejected possible links between autism and the preservative in vaccines.

"Many people trust the health information presented on fictional television shows, which influences their decisions about health care," Dr. Jenkins wrote. Her letter said that beginning in 1998 in Britain, "erroneous reports linking the measles vaccine to autism prompted a decline in vaccination and the worst outbreak of measles in two decades, including the deaths of several children."

ABC will present a written notice and voice-over saying: "The following story is fictional and does not portray any actual persons, companies, products or events." A second card will direct viewers to the Center for Disease Control's autism Web site, .

National Vaccine Information Center
NVIC E-News is a free service of the National Vaccine Information Center and is supported through donations.

NVIC is funded through the financial support of its members and does not receive any government subsidies. Barbara Loe Fisher, President and Co- founder.

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