Part J - Political Initiatives
61. UK All Party Parliamentary Group On Autism (APPGA), Westminster
An All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism has been formed at Westminster. It is
currently looking at diagnosis, education, care and causation issues. The Chair is Dr.
Stephen Ladyman MP (Labour, Thanet South). Vice-Chairs are Lord Clement-Jones (LibDem),
Stephen Hesford MP (Labour), and Tim Loughton MP (Conservative). The Treasurer is Brian
Cotter MP (Labour).
62. Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh
- The Health Committee of the Scottish Parliament appointed a Reporter, Mary Scanlon
MSP, in Autumn 2000, to examine the issues surrounding the MMR/autism link and to report
back to the Committee
- The Scottish National Party and Tommy Sheridan MSP of the Scottish Socialist Party have
called for the re-introduction of single (monvalent) vaccines in Scotland
63. UK Liberal Democrats
- In February 2002, Nick Harvey MP, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, stated in
correspondence to David Thrower that "We do not doubt the integrity with which
(Dr. Wakefield) approaches his work, which is still at an interim stage, we note that Dr.
Wakefields opinions are not currently shared by the vast majority (of the medical
establishment). However, there are also a number of parents who are convinced that the MMR
vaccine has been the cause of their children developing autism......Liberal
Democrats......respect the right of parents to choose to have the vaccinations
administered separately, this being preferable to children slipping through the net
64. UK Conservatives
- The Conservative health spokesman, Dr. Liam Fox, has expressed his support for MMR
but has also expressed his view that the provision of single vaccines would be preferable
to children being unimmunised at all, and would reflect the wishes of parents for being
offered a choice.
- A Conservative MP, Ms. Julie Kirkbride, has promoted a Private Members Bill to
bring about the re-introduction of single vaccines.
65. US House of Representatives
- In April 2000, Rep. Dan Burton, Chairman of the US House of Representatives Committee on
Government Reform, initiated a series of hearings into the relationship between
vaccination and autism.
- Burton concluded that "conflict of interest rules employed by the Food and Drug
Administration and the Centre for Disease Control have been weak, enforcement has been
lax, and committee members with substantial ties to pharmaceutical companies have been
given waivers to participate in committee meetings".
- The Committee on Government Reform found that the majority of members of both the FDA
and CDC committees had financial ties to vaccine manufacturers or held patents on vaccines
- The Committee Chairman, Rep. Dan Burton, said: "For the public to have
confidence in the decisions made by their government, they must be assured that those
decisions are not being affected by conflict of interest. It has become clear over the
course of this investigation that the FDAs Vaccines & Related Biological
Products Advisory Committee and the CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunisation
Practices are dominated by individuals with close working relationships with the vaccine
producers. This was never the intent of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires
that a diversity of views be represented on advisory committees" (my
- Parents giving evidence to the Committee on Government Reform told repeatedly-similar
stories of how their child had developed normally, then received triple vaccines (MMR or
DPT) and had gradually become autistic.
- A number of researchers in the field gave detailed evidence on autism incidence and its
steep climb to near-epidemic (for a supposedly-rare condition) proportions
- The cause of autism could not be explained away by genetics, because genetics do not
cause epidemics within only two decades - the two decades that multiple vaccines have
- The US agencies defending MMR made poor presentations. Some acknowledged financial links
with vaccine manufacturers. Others said they were "looking into" the MMR/autism
connection, but their stance suggested an entrenched hostility to the concept of any link.
Overall, these agency representatives displayed indifference and an unconvincing grasp of
the facts. (Note: an entire industry of "looking into it" has developed, both in
the US and the UK (in the US, this has reported to have consumed $100m in two decades of
lack of progress). Controversial areas of research are avoided, in favour of more abstract
genetic-background research. Key leads are not followed up, so progress is understandably
very poor. At every turn, the researchers try to prove that MMR and DPT are not involved.
Obvious approaches, such as comparing significant-size cohorts of triple-vaccine-immunised
and unimmunised children - the most promising line of any scientific exploration - are not
- Further hearings by the Committee are planned.
Other relevant points:
- There has been strong criticism of the US regulatory mechanisms for drugs and adverse
drug reactions by the Committee on Government Reform, and by others. The consumer group
Public Citizen found that only 13% of 88 follow-up studies required as a condition for the
licensing of drugs launched in the early 1990s were actually completed. Public
Citizens Health research Group said that the neglect of follow-up studies could mean
that side effects are going undetected.
- A "USA Today" investigation of FDA advisory committees between 1/1/98 and
30/6/00 found that at 55% of meetings, half or more of the FDA advisors present had
conflicts of interest. At some meetings, over 90% of advisors present had conflicts of
- Federal law generally prohibits the FDA from using experts with financial conflicts of
interest, but this has been side-stepped by using waivers. The FDA issued more than 800
waivers between 1998 and late 2000. Some 300 advisors serve on 18 advisory committees.
Part K - Recent & Coming
MMR and Late-Onset Autism -(Autistic Enterocolitis) - A
Briefing Note by David Thrower