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Congressman Wants Recall of MMR Vaccine, Citing Autism Risk
Date: Mon, 7 May 2001 20:04:07 -0700

Despite IOM Report, Congressman Wants Recall of MMR Vaccine, Citing Autism Risk

WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) Apr 27 - The chair of the House Government Reform Committee today (April 26, 2001) blasted federal science and health officials for not recalling MMR vaccine that he says may be causing autism, and for allowing some lots of DTaP vaccine that contain thimerosal to be distributed.

An Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel earlier this week issued a report concluding that there is no causal connection between the measles, mumps rubella vaccine and an increased risk of autism in children (see Reuters Health report, April 23).

Still, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) confronted officials from the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health over the vaccine.

The congressman also expressed outrage that the FDA is allowing two lots of DTaP vaccine containing thimerosal - a preservative in which mercury is an active ingredient - to go to market before a mercury-free vaccine is produced. "If there's any doubt whatsoever...and you're taking mercury out as a precautionary measure, then why in the heck don't you get that stuff off the market?" he asked.

The FDA has said that future lots of the vaccine will contain no thimerosal, or only trace amounts, as a precaution geared toward reducing overall mercury exposure in children. The NIH has just begun a 2-year study looking at blood and urine mercury levels in children who receive the vaccine.

Dr. Karen Midthun, who directs the FDA's office of vaccine research and review, told the committee that the agency lacks the authority to force a recall of vaccines unless it can verify that the product represents a clear and imminent threat to public safety. "The preponderance of the evidence finds no causal relationship between vaccines and autism," she said.

Dr. Midthun and others told the committee that the benefits of childhood vaccines in preventing infectious diseases far outweigh the chance that the immunizations increase the risk of autism. They said that pulling available MMR doses from the market would cause shortages of available vaccine and would also increase public concern about the safety of immunizations.

Burton called attention to his grandson, who he says developed autism shortly after receiving recommended vaccination shots.

[Remember?? Congressman Burton stated that his grandson received 9 antigens in one day and developed autism, he feels, as a direct result of these injections. He calculated that his grandson received in excess of 41 times the amount of mercury that can cause harm in ONE day --and mercury accumulates in the body... IC]

"If you [at the federal health agencies] think this issue is going to go away, you guys are blowing smoke. If the health agencies don't deal with this and deal with it quickly, you're going to have a big problem over there," he said.