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Look Who's Paying OR Why the Insurance Companies Might Want to Consider Investing in Vaccine Safety Research by Sandy Gottstein

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How to get unbiased, well-designed research conducted, research untainted by conflict of interest – that’s the big bugaboo in the vaccine arena.  Ever since I got involved in this issue in the 1980’s, it has been my clarion call

Of course, it’s not unusual for business to pay for its own research, nor is it necessarily bad.  R&D - that's the name of the game.   

And the vaccine manufacturers have certainly stepped up to the plate - in fact, they're pretty much the only game in town, when it comes to vaccine safety and effectiveness research..

But when the lives and health of consumers are on the line, even worse, when a company or industry stands to make more money if its product is causing damage, recognized or not (as can be the case with drugs and vaccines), then what might be the solution?  

The government has traditionally played an important research role.  This has clearly been the case with automobile safety, where the government does its own crash-testing and where it would be considered unreasonable to leave such studies to the automakers themselves. 

Yet that is precisely what is happening with vaccine safety studies. 

Unfortunately, however, ever since passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, the government has been more of a partner, even protector, of the vaccine manufacturers, than their watchdog.  Thus, the ability, even willingness, of government to fund independent, valid research on vaccinations is highly suspect. 

What about regulation?  While certainly part of the answer, as the Congressional hearings and other investigations have shown, government agency employees and advisory committee members can be financially conflicted and/or part of the "revolving door" between government and industry.  As a result, trusting and relying upon advisory committees, the CDC, and the FDA to monitor vaccine safety seems, at best, naïve . 

Is there any group out there, then, with the money to pay for such research, and the incentive to do so?  Is there any group that has a reason to uncover the facts? 

If those of us who are concerned about vaccines are right, it is insurers, those who are covering the costs associated with the alarming increase in chronic diseases (including among children, who as of 1992 comprised almost 8% of the population with disability!) and behavioral disorders, who should have just that incentive.  These increases, which involve a variety of conditions ranging from autism to autoimmune disorders to cancer – in our minds there is reason to believe vaccinations are at least partially involved.  And if we are right, it is the health insurers who are paying  for much of the cost associated with vaccinating  – they just don’t know it yet. 

But as is the case with automobiles, where the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts its own safety-testing, so could medical/health insurers do the same. 

Unlike health insurers, though, auto insurers, can easily see that it is they who are paying for the consequences of poorly designed vehicles and thus have made it their business to improve safety standards.   

What if insurers had, instead of mangled cars and bodies as evidence, however, just the bodies? 

Because vaccine damage, to whatever extent it is occurring, is not obvious, it will be necessary to design studies capable of determining what, if any, role vaccines actually play in the growing chronic disease incidence. 

Whatever the cause, however, those who pay for the damage can expect no real help from those who play a role in causing it.  Maybe it’s time for them to realize it.

Sandy Gottstein

Date: 8-23-2002