Tag: big pharma

Money and Motivation of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

We often hear the argument that anyone who supports the ideas that vaccines work and that they are safe and necessary must be a shill for Big Pharma. And that pediatricians, even though they are among the lowest paid doctors, are making tons of money from vaccines and even getting bonuses to get kids vaccinated.

Of course, none of these myths and conspiracy theories are true.

Money and Motivation of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

But guess what motivates many of the folks in the anti-vaccine movement?

“Vaccines are a holocaust of poison on our children’s brains and immune systems.”

Claire Dwoskin

For some, it is the idea that vaccines damaged their child.

And then there’s the money.

CNN did a report several years ago on how a few groups were funding researchers and organizations that put out much of the material that scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

It wasn’t a surprise though. Many others had been saying the same things for years about:

  • the Dwoskin Family Foundation and CMSRI
  • Barry Segal and Focus for Health
  • JB Handley and Generation Rescue

But anti-vaccine experts aren’t just motivated by the money they directly get from those with deep pockets.

Selling supplements is big business for integrative, holistic, and anti-vaccine folks.
Selling supplements is big business for integrative, holistic, and anti-vaccine folks.

They have discovered many ways to turn the anti-vaccine movement into a money making industry.

Paul Thomas doesn't mention that he gets a big cut of the sales for a "free" summit that costs $197 as he promotes his anti-vaccine lecture.
Paul Thomas doesn’t mention that he gets a big cut of the sales for a “free” summit that costs $197 as he promotes his anti-vaccine lecture.

Many of these folks also get money by:

  • selling anti-vaccine books, e-books, videos, seminars, and movies
  • getting paid to speak at anti-vaccine conferences and summits, often for chiropractors or folks like Gwyneth Paltrow, pushing her GOOP
  • selling supplements and vitamins in a “wellness” store, either online or in their offices, that they claim can detox you from vaccines, protect you from toxins, and even prevent autism
  • ads on their websites and Facebook pages
  • appearing as “experts” in court, as they push the idea that everything is a vaccine injury
  • soliciting donations

Those who are health care providers can also establish integrative or holistic medical practices that don’t accept insurance and only see patients that can pay cash. In addition to selling supplements, these providers offer unproven and disproven alternative therapies, like homeopathy, integrative testing, IV therapy, and cranio-sacral therapy.

Does your holistic pediatrician accept insurance?
Does your holistic pediatrician accept insurance?

But only if you have plenty of cash handy.

Kelly Brogan, MD, for example, who believes in a paleo approach to vaccines and thinks we should co-exist with viruses and bacteria, charges up to $4,497 for your first appointment! But if that’s too much for you, for only $997, you can start living a “happy, healthier life” with her 44 day online program.

“We coexist with bacteria and viruses to a level of enmeshment that makes the perception of ‘vaccine-preventable infections’ a laughable notion.”

Kelly Brogan, MD on Where do Vaccines Fit into a Paleo Lifestyle?

And now, some doctors are even making money by selling vaccine exemptions!

Oliver argued that Sears likes to have it both ways, seeming to support science-based medicine while once in a while saying things like “vaccines don’t cause autism except when they do.”

The line inspired Oliver to fire back with this: “Don’t worry, opportunist quacks writing books that fan the flames of people’s unfounded fears don’t cause a legitimate public health hazard, except when they do.”

John Oliver takes a shot at the anti-vaccine movement and the ‘opportunistic quacks’ behind it

Mostly they just sell fear though.

But that’s all they need to get their foot in the door and keep some parents from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

What to Know About the Money and Motivation of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Although they cry Big Pharma at the drop of a hat, it should be clear that folks in the anti-vaccine movement are often motivated by money.

More on the Money and Motivation of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Science Has Been Wrong Before

Frances Kelsey, MD, while working at the FDA, refused to approve thalidomide, sparing many US children the tragic birth defects the drug caused in other countries.
Frances Kelsey, MD, while working at the FDA, refused to approve thalidomide, sparing many US children the tragic birth defects the drug caused in other countries.

Doctors sometimes get things wrong.

Anti-vaccine folks like to bring that up as an argument.

They like it a lot.

And if doctors were wrong before, like about treating people with leeches, smoking cigarettes, or prescribing thalidomide, then why can’t they be wrong about vaccines?

Science Was Wrong Before Fallacy

It’s not just doctors though.

Science, in general, sometimes does get things wrong.

After all, we used to think that the earth was flat (some people still do), that we could figure out how to turn mercury into gold (alchemy), and that the earth was the center of the universe.

But scientists kept working on these issues, came up with new ways to think about them, confirmed them using the scientific method, and put things right.

“It’s not so much about being right or wrong, it’s about how you deal with the evidence that is available, and how you resolve uncertainty. Good scientists and doctors seek out new evidence when there is uncertainty, using good quality methods to answer important questions. Then, when the results are in, they don’t put their hands over their ears and eyes: they look at the new evidence, and change their minds if the evidence warrants a change.

What distinguishes quackery is not so much the kind of intervention being used, but rather, a disregard for those simple, fair principles. And to be clear, plenty of doctors and scientists are slapdash with respect to those principles, but it’s a matter of degree. Doctors can be slow off the mark to change, sometimes. There might be a degree of politics, especially in what questions get researched. But it’s unusual to find a doctor screaming outright in your face that night is day and black is white, when the evidence is right there; in the realm of quackery, that level of fruitcakery is much more common. ”

Ben Goldacre, MD

Of course, doctors and scientists aren’t always going to be right.

But whenever someone brings up thalidomide (but fails to mention that it was a pediatrician who first noticed it was causing birth defects or that Frances Oldham Kelsey, M.D., while working at the FDA, made sure that it was never even approved in the US), maybe mention all of the things doctors and scientists have gotten right – antibiotics, chemotherapy, food safety, fortification of foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies, seat belts and car seats, and of course, vaccines.

And when they bring up how doctors were wrong about smoking cigarettes, lead paint, or radiation exposure, bring up that:

  • John Lockhart Gibson was a doctor in Australia who noticed an association between lead paint and lead poisoning in 1904 and led a campaign to have most lead paint banned from inside homes in Australia in 1920 and later, with Sir Thomas Morrison Legge, by members of the League of Nations in 1922. And Dr. Alice Hamilton warned about lead paint and leaded gasoline as early as 1925, in a meeting with the Surgeon General, even if it would take many decades for other researchers to overcome the powerful effects of the industry backed research of Robert Kehoe and Dr. Joseph Aub. While lead in paint wasn’t banned in the US until the 1970s, the amount of paint in lead was reduced in the 1950s. And thanks to a pediatrician, Herbert Needleman, lead in gasoline was eventually banned too.
  • the first research that linked smoking and cancer came out in the 1950s and the the Surgeon General report warning about smoking followed in 1964
  • while scientists once thought that radiation wasn’t harmful and that X-ray machines could even be used as a way to get the best fitting shoes (the shoe fitting fluoroscope), there were many efforts to encourage safe use of medical radiology during the Golden Age of Radiology, from 1915 to 1940.

Doctors were also wrong about the dangers of sitting too close to the TV (the roots of that warning is probably about radiation from the first TVs though, which was kind of real), that stress was the main cause of stomach ulcers (it’s H. pylori bacteria instead), and that you should avoid peanut butter and other foods when you start your baby on solids.

Dr. Spock even recommended that mothers put their babies to sleep on their stomachs, which defies everything we now know about reducing a babies risk SIDS (safe to sleep)!

“As well as being a flawed argument, it also shows ignorance of how science works. Yes, science has been wrong, but the scientific method is self-correcting. And it is always scientists who have unearthed new evidence who do the correcting, never people who ignore the scientific method.”

Skeptico

Unlike most in the anti-vaccine community, when given new evidence, in all of these situations, most doctors changed their minds and the way they practice medicine.

And it was science and doctors who figured out they were wrong.

Contrast that with all of the times that the alternative medicine community have been wrong – secretin shots for autism, Lupron injections (chemical castration) for autism, laetrile for cancer, and shark cartilage for cancer, etc. Even though there was no science to support their initial use and they were proven to be ineffective, and in some cases dangerous, some still push their use. Just like they push the use of chelation as a treatment for autism.

Again, more often than not, science gets it right.

Just like when another doctor in Australia, Norman McAlister Gregg, discovered the link between rubella infections and congenital rubella infections way back in 1941. We soon had a vaccine which helped put an end to decades of rubella epidemics, miscarriages, neonatal deaths, and babies being born with severe birth defects, and yet, many in the anti-vaccine community still get it wrong about the need for the MMR vaccine.

What about the idea that science will always be wrong because their studies are biased and influenced by money and not by real science? That seemed to be how the cigarette and lead industries kept going for so long, and there are likely some effects of that in some nutrition guidelines, but that is all before medical journals required researchers to disclose any conflicts of interest they might have. So, whatever conspiracy folks might think, Big Pharma isn’t hiding the cure for cancer and isn’t using chemtrails to control people so they buy more vaccines and prescription drugs.

And the idea that science might eventually be proven wrong about a link between vaccines and autism? There is already overwhelming evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism.

The ‘science’ behind the anti-vaccine movement is also clear and it explains why they have been getting things wrong for over two hundred years.

What To Know About The Science Was Wrong Before Fallacy

Using the argument that science or medicine was wrong before, common among anti-vaccine folks, is a logical fallacy and a good way to lose a debate with someone who knows what they are really talking about.

More On The Science Was Wrong Before Fallacy

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