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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: Twitter: Dereklowe

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June 29, 2005

Vaccines and Human Folly

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Posted by Derek

Things seem to have taken a bit of a turn for the worse around here. Let me take a day to set the record straight on a few things.

I believe that vaccinations have been a tremendous boon to human health. Here in the developed world, we've forgotten what the infectious diseases are like that we vaccinate against: try the table at this site to remind yourself. We can argue about rare side effects, but we need to avoid remedies worse than what we're trying to cure.

The classic example is Japan in the 1970s. They had two deaths from the pertussis vaccine, a tragedy by any definition, which led to a 1975 halt in Japan's vaccination program. And that contributed to an even larger tragedy from 1977 to 1979: a pertussis epidemic that killed 41 people. Pertussis, in case you didn't know, is whooping cough, a funny name for something that kills children and doesn't have to.

Japanese scientists took the lead in developing even safer pertussis vaccines, which was sound research in a good cause, and I'm happy to talk about that, too. What I am not happy about are pages upon pages of increasingly vituperative insinuations that vaccines are poisoning millions of people, giving them cancer and fatal diseases, and that pharmaceutical companies and the medical establishment are standing around snickering while it all happens. Readers of the comment sections of the recent posts here will recognize what I'm talking about.

These accusations are, of course, untrue, and their entertainment value is beginning to erode. I am not interested in debating them, any more than I am interested in debating the details of Scientology or the supposed activities of noctural alien proctologists. Now, it is anyone's right to stuff their own head with whatever debris they choose, and it's even their right to urge others to do the same. But you don't get unlimited room to do it here. I strongly urge anyone who feels irresistible impulses to post thirteen-page comments in this vein to get their own blog and generate their own traffic.

I'm talking about etiquette, not censorship. I will continue, naturally, to let anyone post comments that disagree with my own opinions. But gigantic screeds are another thing entirely. If you have some of those to get off your chest, feel free to post a brief overview and a link. Send people to your own site, and enjoy the visitors.

Comments (27) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Patents and IP


1. steve on June 29, 2005 9:31 PM writes...

Wow, this WBurke person seems to be treating this blog, like the creationists treat the biology blogs.

After they've had enough, even the liberal biology types eventually just ban the relentless crazies.

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2. SRC on June 29, 2005 10:21 PM writes...

Isn't garrulousness a symptom of thiomersol deficiency? I think Kevin Trudeau proved it on TV with a ouija board.

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3. RKN on June 30, 2005 12:23 AM writes...

I strongly urge anyone who feels irresistible impulses to post thirteen-page comments in this vein to get their own blog and generate their own traffic.

Or better yet, there's USENET. Like maybe for Mr. Burke, if he hasn't been there already. Or I find that USENET is more conducive to long, drawn out debates. Discussions are threaded, and the newsgroups often attract posters with specific knowledge and relevant professional experience. Vituperation is by no means unknown on USENET, but posters who are constantly that way sooner or later become ignored by regulars on the group.

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4. Levans on June 30, 2005 12:53 AM writes...

You have spoken with good sense, in your treatments in the last week, of scam mega-vitamin therapies, theories of conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies to hide cancer cures, and the role of vaccinations in an increase of autism. The same good sense surely might have suggested that much wackery would follow (as well, of course, as appreciation from most readers). That such wackery has not overwhelmed your site in turn suggests you get less traffic that most of us wish were the case, especially in these instances.

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5. Jason on June 30, 2005 3:05 AM writes...

Not my blog, so it's easy for me to say, but I think WBurke adds textural interest, like water chestnuts.

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6. Doug Sundseth on June 30, 2005 3:48 AM writes...

In case you haven't heard of it, you might examine the possibility of using disemvowelment on persistent trolls.

Disemvowelment, pioneered by Theresa Nielsen Hayden, IIRC consists of leaving the comment intact with the exception of removing all of its vowels. You can still figure out what the person said, if you care enough, but nearly all of the impact is gone. It's usually done with scripts, so is pretty easy to manage if you have (or can find) a script for your blogging software.

One of its advantages is that it leaves some context for replies, which deleting a comment entirely doesn't.

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7. Derek Lowe on June 30, 2005 7:33 AM writes...

Yep, I read Making Light, and disemvowelment is a real possibility if things go on as they have been. I agree that Burke and his ilk do add some seasoning to things, so I'm not ready to start banning people. But I will institute a quota for massive scroll-through-it broadsides accusing me and everyone I know in research of being ignorant genocidal hacks.

Traffic these days is doing pretty well, BTW, climbing toward 30,000 page views/month. Which is more than I expected for talk about vacuum pumps, patent law, and why your prescription costs aren't as bad as you thought.

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8. daen on June 30, 2005 8:00 AM writes...

WBurke and his ilk confuse verbiage (much of it not even their own) for reason, mistaking quantity for quality. Broadly speaking, he can be classified with the Neoluddites - rallying cry: "Technology is evil! Mankind is doomed by his own hubris! Repent!". But you're right not to ban him, Derek - he is, after all, concerned about the state of Big Pharma. Aren't we all here, albeit in a rather different way? WBurke's way is irritating and so much more detrimental to his "cause" than he seems to understand, but he does stimulate debate. Might there be better ways of doing drug discovery than target-specific selection? Almost certainly, as you yourself have talked about. Can WBurke contribute meaningfully to that debate? I have no idea. I hope so.

Anyway, I like his spelling bloopers - "bonified" for "bona fide" was my favourite.

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9. regular reader on June 30, 2005 11:22 AM writes...

One of the beautiful things about blogs is that they belong to their owners :-)

Anti technology and anti science beliefs are a scary part of an overall hostility to learning that seems to have traction in a large part of america. And it's a hostility that cuts across traditional political lines; though it would be fun to blame it all on the fundamental believers it would also be wrong. As Kennedy's article shows us.

I have been learning genomics specifically and pharma business generally for ten years now. Every year, I realize how much less we actually know, and how massive the gulf is between public understanding and the reality of drug discovery. But I was relatively well educated going in, and relatively open minded.

Thank you, Derek, for a clear-eyed and honest view into the world of pharma. I know a lot of other pharma folks, from target discovery to lead generation to ADME to clinical trials. It's hard, slow, expensive, frustrating, and generally nutso at every stage. Scientists fail 90% of the time and somehow STILL get up and go to work. Drugs that work are miraculous, and companies take them to market as soon as they can to make money for stockholders.

Cancer drugs would keep a lot of people alive to keep taking viagra, for example, and also boost the image of a company. Yet somehow, we've cured it and we are hiding the cure? It doesn't parse scientifically, socially, financially or morally. And you typically need at least two of those to get a good solid conspiracy together.

Jeez. I could write for 13 pages myself. Anyhow, do what you want here Derek!

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10. Ian Ameline on June 30, 2005 1:45 PM writes...

I think regular reader is on to something when he says "Cancer drugs would keep a lot of people alive to keep taking viagra". A little "out of the box" thinking will lead you to conclude that what the drug companies should be doing is making drugs for dead people. Think of the boost in their profits they would see from that! :-) There is precedent after all -- the Catholic church selling indulgences to famlies of the deceased -- once they had run out of living cstomers, they canvassed the grave yards -- just as modern politicians do when they need a few extra votes to push them over the edge, as it were.

There are, of course, a few unsolved problems. Such as how to administer the drugs to someone 6 feet under -- but think of how much easier it will be to test these drugs -- toxicity? Not a problem.

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11. WBurke on June 30, 2005 3:25 PM writes...

So much for etiquette.

Besides Derek you blogging worthless scientific nutjobs who think putting some certifiable spin on your blogs amounts to scientific substance are lost in a world where right is only right if it is asked in a clinical setting. Utter nonsense!

Young Soldier Dies Weeks After Receiving Mandatory Vaccinations

A 22-year-old soldier died of a mysterious illness after receiving several mandatory vaccinations, including anthrax and smallpox.

According to the girl’s father, doctors thought she had a cold or a minor reaction to inoculations, but then her condition worsened and she didn’t respond to treatment for pneumonia.

Two days before her death, she could not breathe unaided and had an extremely high fever, weakness, headaches and nausea.

Although an Army spokesperson said there was no indication that vaccines were involved in the girl’s death, her father was told that she might have had the immune disorder lupus, which could have been caused by the smallpox vaccination. The true cause of death will not be known until an autopsy is performed.

Chicago Sun Times April 11, 2003

Dr. Mercola's Comment

As Dr. Tenpenny said last month:

Because the civilian casualties of the vaccination program ranged in age from 43 to 55 years and all patients had some form of cardiac problem in their medical histories--including hypertension and angina--the oft repeated vaccination industry mantra, "temporal association does not prove causality," is once again being used to diminish the link between the smallpox vaccine and the deaths it has caused. Why is it that a vaccine is never the cause of a health problem?

What is truly sad is that these deaths never should have happened, and not just because the vaccination is unnecessary. If the CDC were to do its homework, it would discover that the connection between the smallpox vaccine and death from cardiovascular disease is not conjecture. Nor is it something that needs "further study." The mechanism of action has already been proven.

The smallpox vaccine is capable of causing death because it is a live virus vaccine that induces a physiological state in the body called "hypercoagulability."

A "hypercoagulable state" is a condition in which a person has an increased potential to develop a thrombosis, commonly known as a blood clot. There are many causes of hypercoagulability, ranging from rare genetic conditions and a variety of blood disorders, to surgical interventions, birth control pills and cancer.

In addition, there is a long list of cardiovascular diseases, including valvular defects, bypass surgery and hypertension, that can lead to hypercoagulability.[1]

The physiology of the hypercoagulable state is complex. The cascade of events begins when an irregularity develops on the endothelial wall, or inside lining of a blood vessel. As the blood flows past this turbulent surface, platelet cells are disrupted, causing the release of thrombin.

Thrombin is an enzyme that converts fibrinogen into molecules called soluble fibrin monomers (SFM), generally referred to as fibrin. Strands of this "sticky," insoluble protein form a mesh that collects the other types of blood cells involved in the formation of blood clots and scars.

However, the release of fibrin doesn’t necessarily result in the formation of blood clots. As the body depletes its supply of circulating fibrinogen to create fibrin, more and more fibrinogen is released into the circulatory system. The combination of the additional fibrinogen and free, non-polymerized fibrin fragments increases blood viscosity, meaning the blood becomes "thicker and stickier."

Over time, the excess "sticky" fibrin adheres to the walls of capillaries in the microcirculation, resulting in narrowed blood vessels. Tissues become compromised as oxygen and nutrients are blocked from entering the cells. In the heart, this leads to ischemic heart disease and heart attacks. In the brain, it can lead to strokes.

Cardiologists understand the phenomenon of hypercoagulability and routinely recommend an aspirin a day and other drugs to "thin the blood." However, these medications are only treating the symptom and do nothing to address what is causing the hypercoagulation in the first place.

Pathogens that can activate the fibrin-forming cascade include a long list of bacteria, fungi, mycoplasma and viruses. Because these pathogens are primarily anaerobes, they thrive in cells that are deprived of oxygen. Fibrin-narrowed vessels deliver less oxygen, allowing the pathogens to become embedded in tissue and to propagate at the local level, creating tiny tissue "abscesses" that fester and cause inflammation.[2]

This process is thought to be one of the causes of the muscle aches seen in fibromyalgia, and why aerobic exercise seems to decrease pain.[3]

In addition, viruses create a self-perpetuating hypercoagulable state by adhering to the blood vessel wall. When this occurs, fibrin covers the virus to isolate it from the rest of the body. The result is the formation of additional "bumps" on the inside of the blood vessels, increasing the blood flow turbulence and continuing the thrombin-fibrin-deposition cycle. [4]

The primary blame for narrowed blood vessels and clot formation is placed on elevated cholesterol levels.

But it is the adherence of microbes to the endothelial lining of the blood vessels and subsequent fibrin deposition that is the underlying mechanism of action for cardiovascular disease.[5] In a word: heart disease is an infection.

In fact, a recent edition of Critical Care Medicine describes in detail the number of different types of viruses that can cause hypercoagulability:

"Direct interaction between microorganisms and endothelial cells can also occur, especially in the case of viral infections. Endothelial cell perturbation [disturbance] is a common feature of viral infection and can alter hemostasis in both a direct and indirect manner. Endothelial cells can be directly infected by a number of viruses (e.g., herpes simplex virus, adenovirus, parainfluenzavirus, poliovirus, echovirus, measles virus, mumps virus, cytomegalovirus, human T-cell lymphoma virus type I, and HIV. In particular, viral infection of endothelial cells has been demonstrated in hemorrhagic fevers (e.g., Dengue virus, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, Hantaan virus, and Lassa virus)."[6]

Even though vaccinia, the virus that is the active component of the smallpox vaccine, is not specifically mentioned in this list, it should be. The link between vaccinia and hypercoagulability is the reason why cardiologists admit that the connection between the vaccine and cardiovascular side effects is "biologically plausible."

Smallpox vaccination causes a low-grade infection and initiates the hypercoagulability cascade.[7] Researchers have documented that a similar type of hypercoagulability is induced by the anthrax vaccine.[8]

It took many years for conventional medicine to identify the bacteria, H.pyoli as the culprit in gastric ulcer disease. I wonder how many years it will be before viral infections are routinely considered the cause of cardiovascular disease.

Even if conclusive evidence existed that viruses were responsible, the lack of a pharmaceutical answer to the problem would diminish their role. Some investigators have been studying the connection between Chlamydia and cardiovascular disease, but this hypothesis is being discarded.

In fact, a very recent study concluded that treating two groups of patients with the antibiotic azithromycin (Zithromax) for two weeks and three months respectively had "no effect" on the brachial artery response to nitroglycerin.[9] It is difficult to imagine how an antibiotic could affect a microbe buried beneath a layer of fibrin.

The CDC is deeply disturbed over highly publicized anxiety surrounding the smallpox vaccine. Once the complications from this vaccine are exposed, we are only one, small precarious step away from questioning the unspoken impact that all vaccines have on health.

After all, the vast majority of vaccines are viral vaccines--including measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox and oral polio. Even more, they are "live virus" vaccines, just like the smallpox vaccine.

It is my personal opinion that the impact of the viral load caused by vaccines has been overwhelmingly underestimated and is creating hypercoagulability problems in people of all ages. The virus-hypercoagulability connection will eventually prove to be the "missing link" in connecting a myriad of health problems to our one-size-fits-all mass vaccination policies.

It is good that the CDC is taking a cautionary stance regarding the smallpox vaccine and those with a history of cardiovascular disease. Many others have already been medically exempted from the vaccine.

It is estimated that at least 10 percent, or more than 28 million people in the United States, have eczema.[10] There are 184,000 organ recipients,[11] 850,000 individuals with diagnosed and undiagnosed HIV infection or AIDS,[12] and 8.5 million people with cancer.[13] The presence of these health conditions constitutes a reason for avoiding the vaccine.

An even more extensive list of people at risk is the untold millions who are taking immunosuppressive drugs such as corticosteroids. Prednisone and Medrol, given to both adults and children, are prescribed for dozens of conditions including but not limited to: asthma, emphysema, allergies, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, herniated spinal discs, acute muscular pain syndromes, and all types of rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases. All of these patients would be at risk for serious complications from contact with a smallpox vaccinated individual.

And now those with a history of cardiovascular disease are being excluded from receiving the smallpox vaccine. Nearly 61 million Americans (almost one-fourth of the population) live with cardiovascular disease, and coronary heart disease is a leading cause of premature, permanent disability in the U.S. workforce.[14]

When adding up the number of Americans who should not receive this vaccine, it comes to more than 98.5 million people. Who is left? Perhaps the rush to spend $780 million to develop this vaccine will turn out to be the industry’s ultimate boondoggle.

(Sherri J. Tenpenny, D.O. is a nationally renowned and respected vaccine expert. In August 2002, I hosted a timely and important teleconference featuring Dr. Tenpenny to discuss the real dangers of vaccines and how you can legally avoid them. "The Danger of Vaccines, and How You Can Legally Avoid Them" audio tape, a professionally recorded 90-minute cassette available in my "Recommended Products" section, presents that full conference.)

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12. kodi on June 30, 2005 4:15 PM writes...

Whoa. "So much for etiquette" is right. I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but really, WBurke, what rule of etiquette do you think you're obeying, here?

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13. Daniel Newby on June 30, 2005 5:32 PM writes...

The rule that says ignorance of the local language is not a problem IF. YOU. JUST. SPEAK. LOUDLY. AND. SLOWLY.   :-<

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14. daen on June 30, 2005 6:13 PM writes...

WBurke, you are a strange and sad little man, and I pity you.

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15. dr on June 30, 2005 7:23 PM writes...

Editor? Please? I come here to the Comments to read, and sometimes participate, in reasoned discussions between people with a clue. I'd hate for this place to be wrecked, like Usenet and so many others, by the idiots. There's not enough time in the universe to answer them all, and the idiots won't be listening anyway. Just delete the junk, as a service to your readers, and stop apologizing.

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16. Derek Lowe on June 30, 2005 8:48 PM writes...

Mr. Burke, you've been warned. I'm not going to allow you to emit pages of pasted-in text. Post a link and get off the stage, please.

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17. Jason on June 30, 2005 9:37 PM writes...

I think WBurke should be granted leniency because, appallingly, the barbarians are already at the gates, i.e., are part of the discussion. Let me explain with my urgent personal example.

I have a PhD in math and have published on drug discovery. Currently I work at a huge software company in Redmond, WA. But I speak for myself.

To get my "love handles" removed by a company-approved plastic surgeon, I paid my 4K bill in advance and in full, and am given Arnica 30x of all f-ing things to take after the upcoming surgery.

My operation is on July 19. How does one respond to such tripe? By picking a fight with the surgeon? I'd like WBurke's opinion as well as all of yours.

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18. Derek Lowe on June 30, 2005 10:28 PM writes...

Good God, you need to pick a fight with someone. What kind of plastic surgeon wries you up for homeopathic dishwater post-surgery?

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19. Jason on June 30, 2005 11:49 PM writes...

Thanks Derek, I'm glad I'm not the only one rolling my eyes. In fairness, he uses real things too. I have prescriptions for Vicodin, Keflex, and Scopolamine. Anesthesia will be 2,6 diisopropyl phenol (Propofol) and F2H-C-O-CClH-CF3 (Isoflurane). Fine. But Arnica Montana 30x, Bromelain and Quercitin? What's up with that???

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20. WBurke on July 1, 2005 12:06 AM writes...


I'd encourage you not to do the surgery, go to and get some free advice about dieting and to start you off in a simple easy way to shed some of the pounds, eliminate soft drinks and fast foods from your diet. That alone should enable you to shed some 20 pounds or so over as little as a few months if you put some exercise into it.

I never understood why people would go under the knife and put themselves at risk (are you aware of the fact that 88,000 people per year die in hospitals from infections alone? My mother was one of those in 1999 and the CDC doesn't even note them on their Leading Causes of Death?)

Whatever route you choose - best of luck to you. Considering the state of health care in the US, you'll need all the luck you can get.

As for you Derek, I'd expect nothing less than censorship from an industry shill like yourself. You "science" guys have about as much common sense as the apes you think you came from. You didn't say anything about the information that skunks your position that vaccines led to the decline in specific diseases, why not?

'Cause you got nut'n DL!

In keeping with your requirements, here you go:

How the Mercury in Vaccines Can Kill Your Baby -

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21. daen on July 1, 2005 5:31 AM writes...

WBurke, you're under some illusion that Derek is providing a public service, and if he decides that you're for the kibosh, then it's censorship. You're wrong. Derek is doing you a favour by allowing you to air your views, even though he doesn't agree with them. Don't abuse his goodwill. Does a newspaper editor have to publish every letter he receives? Of course not, but if he wants to allow the debate to be fair and balanced, he will allow a selection, probably proportional to the number of letters representing each position, to be published. This is what Derek is trying to achieve (but with an increasing degree of exasperation, I feel). But how about this : why don't you get your own blog instead of using someone else's traffic to promote your views? If what you have to say has any merit, then people will come to read it. As a regular reader of "Pipeline" I would be happier if you a) stick to posting links which I can easily ignore, or b) contribute something that I consider worthwhile, or c) push off. We are not your target audience. "Pipeline" is not the appropriate vehicle for venting your spleen and promoting other people's dodgy ideologies, and if you can't stop doing that then you really ought to voluntarily remove yourself, or you will in all likeliness be removed.

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22. Harry on July 1, 2005 9:32 AM writes...

Mr Burke's rants have an unbelievably high noise-to-signal ratio. I notice he has never even attempted to answer a question directly, merely cutting and pasting quotes taken out of context and (in the few I bothered to check) having little bearing on the subject under discussion.

The small amount of amusement provided by the evisceration of his screeds by Derek and some commenters has long since palled.

I commend Derek for his patience in dealing with this loon. Disenvowelment is probably too mild a remedy, in my view.

In closing- I'll merely repeat a saying I heard long ago (I have no idea who authored it, or I'd happily give credit): "There's no point in arguing with an idiot- he'll bring you down to his level, and then beat you with experience".

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23. Derek Lowe on July 1, 2005 9:46 AM writes...

Back in Arkansas, we would say: "Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it."

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24. WBurke on July 1, 2005 12:08 PM writes...

Words to the wise which describes the reason you all are so enveloped within your own minds - legends in your own minds, unable to err and quite possibly beyond help - one of the great revelations of prophecy from the New Testament is revealed in Romans 1 and the following verses which I will leave you all with to ponder, discuss or ignore as you so choose:

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Inventing ways of doing evil - drug pushers aka pharmaceutical companies.

May God have mercy on you all and open your eyes before He demands your accounting for all that you've done.

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25. UsedToBeAChemist on July 1, 2005 2:09 PM writes...

I have always wondered why, of all possible things, do they use an organo-mercury preservative in vaccines? Is it really the only/best option? I would have blown my coffee out my nose if I was in the meeting where that was first suggested...

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26. UsedToBeAChemist on July 1, 2005 2:14 PM writes...

Oh year, WBurke, go take a long walk on a short pier.

I don't know what kind of emotional gratification you get from bellowing and convincing everyone you are a fool, but I am sure there are better ways to fell good about yourself.

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27. Jim Hu on July 2, 2005 2:21 AM writes...


I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that a lot of other preservatives are incompatible with being injected, or with retaining the activity of the vaccines. I remember first hearing about thiomerosal as an additive to contact lens solutions, where I'm guessing that irritants are also a problem.

From what I can tell, thiomerosal hasn't been replaced by better, less suspect preservatives. It's been replaced by single-dose vaccine packaging and required refrigeration, which have higher cost and are problematic in the third world.

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