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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« More on Autism (And Mercury) | Main | Sweet Maybe, But Trouble, Too »

December 5, 2002

A Quick Tour Through the Mudhole

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Posted by Derek

Before leaving this subject (for now,) I thought I'd take a look at some of the sites I mentioned that pop up when you do a Google search for thimerosal. I hope you all will pardon me for not directly linking these people. I'm not particularly interested in sending them any traffic.

From a law firm:

Recently evidence has surfaced linking Asperger's Disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders associated with Autism to mercury poisoning in infants as a result of childhood vaccines containing thimerosal. Thimerosal is preservative that pharmaceutical companies added to vaccines in order to mass package them, which is far less expensive then individually packaging each vaccine dose. Unfortunately this attempt to save money appears to have endangered thousands children in the United States.

And from another, under the heading "Have You Been Injured by a Thimerosal Vaccine?":

Symptoms of mercury toxicity in young children are extremely similar to those of autism. This can explain the recent increase in the numbers of children diagnosed with autism since the early 1990's. The numerous amount of children diagnosed with autism seems to directly correlate with the recommendation of both the hepatitis B and HIB vaccine to infants in the early 1990s.

Here's a whole group of legal firms, with a corresponding rise in the amount of misinformation:

The high mercury content of Thimerasal (sic) poses a serious health risk for children. In the first few months of a baby's life, an infant may have already received up to 15 vaccinations. The levels of toxic mercury in these vaccinations can cause lasting and serious developmental and neurological problems in these children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked mercury-containing vaccines and developmental disorders.

And one more, just to get the flavor of the business:

A full generation of children in America was exposed to dangerous doses of highly toxic ethyl mercury from 1990 through 2000. Children were injected with the toxic mercury that was a major ingredient in a chemical product called thimerosal. . .With each dose of vaccine that contained thimerosal, a child would also get an injection of toxic mercury. Each one of those mercury injections exposed the child to levels of toxic mercury in excess of the federal government's own safety guidelines. Mercury is widely known to cause neurological damage, often permanent. Current clinical and epidemiological research suggests that the mercury-laden thimerosal so widely given to children by the drug companies in the 1990's might cause a range of neurological and neurodevelopmental injuries, including autism. Compounding this public health disaster is that the toxic exposure was entirely avoidable. . .Thimerosal had nothing to do with vaccine safety, and everything to do with the profits and convenience of packaging for the pharmaceutical companies.

All right, enough. I hardly need to say that I find the above excerpts to be full of misinterpretations, half-truths, distortions, and out-and-out falsehoods, and that's just the beginning of what's out there. You'd think the drug industry was full of Mengeles, high-fiving each other when another child gets sick and another nickel drops into the hopper.

I hope that I've been able to show (or at least point people to) some of the complexities of the whole thimerosal question (that Institute of Medicine report I've linked to will really give you the authentic scientific experience, I can tell you.) But tort lawyers have no need of complexity. All they need are desperate clients and a deep-pocketed defendant or two. . .

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