Government suppression of Vaccine-Autism Research

 

The IACC (InterAgency Autism Coordinating Committee) is a committee under the auspices of NIH consisting of HHS (Department of Health & Human Services) federal employees and members of the public charged with developing the overall plan for spending research funds under the Combating Autism Act of 2006.  HHS is the overall federal department that contains several divisions including ones with the following duties:

  • CDC: Creating and promoting the expansion of vaccination schedule
  • FDA:  Approving the safety of vaccines
  • HRSA: Managing the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), including appointment of the “Special Masters” who serve as the judge and render the decision (there is no jury)
  • HRSA: Paying the compensation from the vaccine-injury fund when a child wins a vaccine-injury case
  • NIH: Funding basic scientific research, including into autism and vaccine-injury

On December 12, 2008, the IACC voted to recommend research into the study of the link between autism and vaccines {estimated budget: $6,000,000}.  But in a surprise move during the next IACC meeting on January 14, 2009, Tom Insel (chair of IACC and the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, a component of NIH) singled out this vaccine safety research provision from the overall strategic research plan and put it back up for a revote.   In a surprising moment of candor, Dr. Insel cited HHS conflicts of interests on vaccine-autism research due to the over 5,000 autism lawsuits pending against HHS.  In other words: if the NIH investigated a vaccine-autism link, it might place the HRSA at risk of losing cases in VICP which would indicate that the CDC’s aggressive expansion of the vaccination schedule has contributed to the autism epidemic.  HHS members, a majority of the committee, voted down this provision in the revote.

NIMH Director Dr. Thomas Insel at a January 2009 Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) meeting: “I’m concerned about the optics … of having HRSA vote on issues related to autism and vaccines when they have a large court case, the optics of having people who have, could be perceived to have, um, or to represent those with a financial investment in this issue. It takes it out of the realm of a scientific question, a research question, and it raises the possibility that some could see whatever comments we make as being biased by nonscientific issues, and I understand that’s a risk in lots of things that we do, this one really feels, since this is a court case that is soon going to become public, and I think it’s fairly close to a large omnibus effort, um, I think that this one really does represent some jeopardy for this process, for this committee, almost any way in which it comes out. If we say, yes we think it’s important to look at this, and to provide additional information, it implies that we believe that there is a relationship between autism and vaccines, and it suggests, um, that, um, in some way this runs opposite to what HHS may define through the HRSA process.” (from the minutes of the meeting)

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