Big Pharma working to discredit scientist’s vaccine-autism connection
A medical expert working for the government found a causal link between vaccines and autism, but federal lawmakers influenced by the powerful pharmaceutical lobby helped bury that info.
In an episode of award-winning journalist Sharyl Attkisson’s program Full Measure, she breaks down how a scientist relied on by the government to debunk vaccine-autism claims was silenced after reporting there was indeed a link between the neurological disease and vaccines.
Watch the bombshell episode complete with transcript below (emphasis ours):
Today we investigate one of the biggest medical controversies of our time: vaccines. There’s little dispute about this much– vaccines save many lives, and rarely, they injure or kill. A special federal vaccine court has paid out billions for injuries from brain damage to death. But not for the form of brain injury we call autism. Now—we have remarkable new information: a respected pro-vaccine medical expert used by the federal government to debunk the vaccine-autism link, says vaccines can cause autism after all. He claims he told that to government officials long ago, but they kept it secret.
Yates Hazlehurst was born February 11, 2000. Everything was normal, according to his medical records, until he suffered a severe reaction to vaccinations. Rolf Hazlehurst is Yates’ dad.
Rolf Hazlehurst: And at first, I didn’t believe it. I did not think that, I did not believe that vaccines could cause autism. I didn’t believe it.
But there’s a hard reality for Yates. The trademark brain disease, pain and inability to communicate that’s common with severe autism.
In 2007, Yates’ father sued over his son’s injuries in the little known Federal Vaccine court. It was one of more than 5000 vaccine autism claims.
Congress created vaccine court in 1988, in consultation with the pharmaceutical industry. In the special court, vaccine makers don’t defend their products—the federal government does it for them, using lawyers from the Justice Department. Money for victims comes from us, not the pharmaceutical industry, through patient fees added onto every vaccine given.
Denise Vowell: Our hearings are all closed to the public. And that’s statutory.
In 2007, Yates’ case and nearly all the other vaccine autism claims lost. The decision was based largely on the expert opinion of this man, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a world-renowned pediatric neurologist shown here at a lecture.
Dr. Zimmerman was the government’s top expert witness and had testified that vaccines didn’t cause autism. The debate was declared over.
But now Dr. Zimmerman has provided remarkable new information. He claims that during the vaccine hearings all those years ago, he privately told government lawyers that vaccines can, and did cause autism in some children. That turnabout from the government’s own chief medical expert stood to change everything about the vaccine-autism debate. If the public were to find out.
Hazlehurst: And he has come forward and explained how he told the United States government vaccines can cause autism in a certain subset of children and United States government, the Department of Justice suppressed his true opinions.
Hazlehurst discovered that later when Dr. Zimmerman evaluated Yates as a teenager. That’s when he partnered with vaccine safety advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Junior—who has a voice condition.
Kennedy: This was one of the most consequential frauds, arguably in human history.
Kennedy was instrumental in convincing Dr. Zimmerman to document his remarkable claim of the government covering up his true expert opinion on vaccines and autism.
Dr. Zimmerman declined our interview request and referred us to his sworn affidavit. It says: On June 15, 2007, he took aside the Department of Justice—or DOJ lawyers he worked for defending vaccines in vaccine court. He told them that he’d discovered “exceptions in which vaccinations could cause autism.” “I explained that in a subset of children, vaccine induced fever and immune stimulation did cause regressive brain disease with features of autism spectrum disorder.”
Kennedy: This panicked the two DOJ attorneys and they immediately fired Zimmerman. That was on a Friday and over the weekend they called Zimmerman and said his services would no longer be needed. They wanted to silence him.
Days after the Department of Justice lawyers fired Dr. Zimmerman as their expert witness, he alleges, they went on to misrepresent his opinion to continue to debunk autism claims. Records show that on June 18, 2007, a DOJ attorney Dr. Zimmerman spoke to told vaccine court, “We know [Dr. Zimmerman’s] views on the issue…There is no scientific basis for a connection” between vaccines and autism. Dr. Zimmerman now calls that “highly misleading.”
The former DOJ lawyer didn’t return our calls and emails. Kennedy has filed a fraud complaint with the Justice Department Inspector General, who told us they don’t “comment on investigations or potential investigations.”
Meantime, CDC—which promotes vaccines and monitors vaccine safety– never disclosed that the government’s own one-time medical expert concluded vaccines can cause autism – and to this day public health officials deny that’s the case.
Dr. Anne Schuchat: “Based on dozens of studies and everything I know as a physician and a scientist, there’s no link between autism and vaccines.”
CDC declined our interview request. In addition to filing a fraud complaint, Kennedy has delivered Dr. Zimmerman’s affidavit to leaders on Capitol Hill. But there he claims, is another key part of this story: roadblocks set up by the pharmaceutical industry—or PhRMA.
Kennedy: But everybody takes money from PhRMA so they’ve all been corrupted. And it’s almost impossible to get anything done on Capitol Hill.