Holy Hormones Journal: Although this article was published in 2005 – 10 years ago, it uncovered damning information from a Merck memo (remember when I used to call this pharma giant – “Murky Merck?” Well, it seems I was close to the truth on many different levels. Not just about the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, not just about the synthetic contraceptive device called Implanon – that is inserted into teens girls and women’s arms as a from of sterilization with the constant drip-drop of a chemical cocktail into the bloodstream.
What I will now call them is “Murky Mercury Merck” – because they knew that thimerosal in vaccines is harmful. They knew, they denied it and now they are in federal court over their MMR vaccine.
And even this Times Staff Writer got it wrong when he stated that mercury has been removed from vaccines. What he does not know and what many do not know is that mercury has been found in the proprietary formulas of vaccines (which do not have to be disclosed.) And we do know that mercury is in the flu vaccine and is highly recommended for pregnant women.
I think this memo throws out the recent industry sponsored “pseudo-studies” that vaccines are not linked to autism.
Look how long we have been involved in this issue – and note how many millions more children have been damaged.
A memo from Merck & Co. shows that, nearly a decade before the first public disclosure, senior executives were concerned that infants were getting an elevated dose of mercury in vaccinations containing a widely used sterilizing agent.
The March 1991 memo, obtained by The Times, said that 6-month-old children who received their shots on schedule would get a mercury dose up to 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish.
“When viewed in this way, the mercury load appears rather large,” said the memo from Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman, an internationally renowned vaccinologist. It was written to the president of Merck’s vaccine division.
The memo was prepared at a time when U.S. health authorities were aggressively expanding their immunization schedule by adding five new shots for children in their first six months. Many of these shots, as well as some previously included on the vaccine schedule, contained thimerosal, an antibacterial compound that is nearly 50% ethyl mercury, a neurotoxin.
Federal health officials disclosed for the first time in 1999 that many infants were being exposed to mercury above health guidelines through routine vaccinations. The announcement followed a review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that was described at the time as a first effort to assess the cumulative mercury dose.
But the Merck memo shows that at least one major manufacturer was aware of the concern much earlier.
“The key issue is whether thimerosal, in the amount given with the vaccine, does or does not constitute a safety hazard,” the memo said. “However, perception of hazard may be equally important.”
Merck officials would not discuss the contents of the memo, citing pending litigation.
Separately, the drug giant is trying to fend off a legal onslaught over Vioxx, the popular painkiller it introduced in 1999. The company, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., faces hundreds of lawsuits claiming that the drug caused heart problems and that Merck concealed the risks. Merck, which in September pulled Vioxx off the market, has denied the allegations.
The legacy of thimerosal, meanwhile, also is causing problems for Merck and other drug companies.
More than 4,200 claims have been filed in a special federal tribunal, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, by parents asserting that their children suffered autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders from mercury in vaccines. A handful of similar claims are awaiting trial in civil courts. The plaintiffs cite various scientific studies that they say prove the dangers of thimerosal, including at the levels found in vaccines.
Thimerosal has been largely removed from pediatric vaccines in recent years in what health officials have described as a precautionary measure. (This has been accomplished as drug makers have voluntarily switched from multi-dose vials of vaccine, which require a chemical preservative like thimerosal, to single-dose containers.)
In September, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation prohibiting vaccines with more than trace amounts of thimerosal from being given to babies and pregnant women. Iowa has a similar ban.
For their part, Merck and other vaccine makers, along with many government health officials and scientists, say there is no credible evidence of harm from the amounts of mercury once widely present in kids’ shots. They cite a report in May by a committee of the national Institute of Medicine concluding that the evidence “favors rejection of a causal relationship” between vaccines and autism.
The seven-page Merck memo was provided to The Times by James A. Moody, a Washington lawyer who works with parent groups on vaccine safety issues. He said he obtained it from a whistle-blower whom he would not name.
The memo provides the “first hard evidence that the companies knew — or at least Merck knew — that the children were getting significantly more mercury” than the generally accepted dose, the lawyer said.