Monday, June 01, 2009
by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Dr. Paul Offit of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) received at least $29 million from his share of royalties for Merck’s Rotateq vaccine after using his position with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that childhood vaccination with the vaccine became compulsory.
According to a report on the Web site “Age of Autism,” a review of CHOP’s royalties schedules reveals that Offit likely received between $29 million and $55 million for his work developing the Rotateq vaccine for rotavirus, which causes diarrhea in infants. Because the vaccine is jointly owned by CHOP and by the Wistar Institute but Offit is the only inventor listed on the patent from CHOP, he received 100 percent of inventor’s rights payments from CHOP.
“Clearly, based on the distribution of income rights outlined in [CHOP’s policies], Paul Offit had a greater personal interest in Rotateq’s commercial success than any other single individual in the world,” article authors Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill write. “And more than other individual in the world, he found himself in a position to directly influence that success.”
Between 1998 and 2003, Offit sat on the U.S. government’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). His involvement with development of Rotateq began before and ended after these dates.
While a member of the ACIP, Offit consistently voted in favor of making vaccination against rotavirus part of the compulsory U.S. childhood immunization schedule. He also voted to rescind recommendation of Wyeth’s competing vaccine RotaShield, while aggressively advocating for the idea that other rotavirus vaccines would be less dangerous.
“Unlike most other patented products, the market for mandated childhood vaccines is created not by consumer demand, but by the recommendation of an appointed body called the ACIP,” Olmsted and Blaxill write. “In a single vote, ACIP can create a commercial market for a new vaccine that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars in a matter of months.”
In the case of Rotateq, its addition to the vaccine schedule led to an increase in yearly revenue of $655 million over the course of two years.
Sources for this story include: www.ageofautism.com.