While Americans want to trust that health officials are acting in the best interests of the public, one has to wonder if that is actually the case given some of the actions of some leaders, not to mention the huge payoffs at stake if they can jump from government to private industry or simply dance between the two. Now of course there is nothing illegal about moving from a federal agency to the private sector but the monkey business involving the 3 leaders we highlight in this video may make you stop to think.
For starters, Dr. Julie Gerberding headed CDC from 2000-2008. She famously said in an interview on CNN,
“So if a child was immunized, got a fever, had other complications from the vaccines. And if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism.”1
So according to Dr. Gerberding, vaccines can cause fevers and complications that lead to the symptoms of autism, but they don’t cause autism. That may be the best example of semantics we have ever heard. If that is not bad enough, a CDC whistleblower, senior scientist William Thompson, has come forward alleging a host of fraud at CDC to conceal the MMR vaccine link to autism – all under Dr. Gerberding’s leadership.2 Gerberding even allegedly had Thompson removed from an upcoming meeting in which he intended to discuss the MMR vaccine-autism connection publicly, we guess so he wouldn’t spill the beans.3,4
Merck is the maker of the MMR vaccine and wouldn’t you know, Gerberding left CDC after her time was up and went to Merck where she now acts as president of Merck Vaccines globally.5
Next up is Dr. Elias Zerhouni, former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Zerhouni’s time as director was severely marred by landmark investigative reporting of widespread corruption and conflicts of interest among NIH scientists as well as an ongoing Congressional investigation into these issues.6,7
Just four months after he announced his departure from NIH he was advising vaccine maker and pharma giant Sanofi’s CEO and within a few more months he was named head of Sanofi’s R&D. His speedy transition from NIH to the corporate world makes Dr. Gerberding’s year-long transition look like a snail’s pace.
But what if you could have one foot in both ponds – what if you could sit on CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) while you were a consultant to a vaccine/pharma giant? Wouldn’t that be the best of both worlds?
Well that is exactly what vaccine proponent and expert Dr. Paul Offit has done. He sat on CDC’s ACIP while he was being paid by Merck to develop a rotavirus vaccine called Rotateq. He voted in support of rotavirus vaccines and less than a year after he joined ACIP, rotavirus vaccines were added to CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule. Not only that, when Rotashield, the first rotavirus vaccine to market, was found to cause a dangerous bowel obstruction in babies called intussusception that killed some babies, Dr. Offit was allowed to participate in the discussions. Dr. Offit argued Rotashield’s problem could be unique to Rotashield implying that his rotavirus vaccine in development would not suffer the same side effects.
All told, Dr. Offit voted to establish a market for his own vaccine and earned tens of millions in the process.8 Dr. Offit walked away with an estimated $29-$55 million for his part in developing Rotateq which he argued would be different from the first rotavirus vaccine.
Unfortunately that is not the case and more than 200 babies have died of intussusception after Rotateq.9 Rotateq remains on the market and part of CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule.
While there is clearly nothing wrong with inventing products or being successful in business, it seems the line between influencing policy and profiting from that policy has become increasingly non-existent in recent years and these three individuals are a great illustration of that sad reality.