15 Jan (ANH.ORG) – Would you be surprised to learn that vaccine makers are among their corporate donors? And that their recommendations influence the FDA? In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), together with the US Public Health Service, jointly recommended that thimerosal, a vaccine preservative that contains mercury, should be removed from vaccines. In response, the FDA removed thimerosal, or limited it to trace amounts, in all vaccines except flu shots. Now the AAP has reversed itself and says it wants the mercury left in. In January, the UN Environmental Program will be working on a global treaty to reduce health hazards by banning certain products and processes that release mercury into the environment, and thimerosal in vaccines is one of those products under discussion.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that thimerosal should be left in vaccines and should not be banned. They argue that the mercury compound helps control the growth of bacteria and fungi in multi-dose vaccines (though not necessary for single-dose vaccines). In the developing world, multi-dose vaccines are a mainstay because single-dose vials would cost far more and require new networks of cold storage facilities and additional capacity for waste disposal, according to the WHO statement.
In a direct reversal from their previous position, AAP has endorsed WHO’s report. This could shift the FDA’s stance on the issue, and might even bring back thimerosal into other US vaccines. Nor is this the first time the AAP has done something that strikes us as hard to explain without looking at their donors. The group previously said that boys should receive the HPV vaccine, which is dangerous and offers few benefits for boys relative to the risks; advocated that children receive cholesterol screenings, which could lead to big business for the drug companies selling statin drugs even though statins are the last thing growing bodies need; and recommended sports drinks for kids that are full of sugar and questionable additives, and expensive for consumers but that are very lucrative for the sellers. We worry that all these decisions were influenced, not by the needs of children, but by the funding needs of the organization.
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Tags: AAP, Abbott, American Academy of Pediatrics, FDA, Mead Johnson, Merck, Nestle, pediatrics Insurance Consultants, Pfizer, Sanofi Pasteur, Thimerosal, US Public Health Service, WHO, World Health Organization