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She smears

April 25th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Serious overreach

America’s oldest anti-vaccine group has fired back at the AAP following its criticism of an anti-vaccine ad placement on the Times Square jumbotron.

The misleadingly-named National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) accuses the AAP of “bullying parents instead of being partners in preventing vaccine reactions.” The group was responding to an April 13 letter the AAP wrote to CBS asking the network to remove a 20-second anti-vaccine message on the CBS Jumbotron in Times Square.

Anti-vaccine activist Fisher

NVIC claims the AAP provided the letter to bloggers, who “orchestrated an online smear campaign to discredit NVIC.”

Barbara Loe Fisher rarely lets facts intrude on her anti-vaccine agenda . NVIC’s latest press release falsely labels Dr. Paul Offit as a “vaccine patent holder.” Offit is co-inventor of Rotateq, a rotavirus vaccine which saves hundreds of thousands of lives.  He stopped receiving royalties on Rotateq nearly two years ago, a fact that is conveniently overlooked by Fisher and other critics.

Fisher sued Offit, Conde Nast Publications, and science writer Amy Wallace for defamation last over a Wired Magazine article about the anti-vaccine movement. The offending paragraph:

Offit is quick-witted, funny, and — despite a generally mild-mannered mien — sometimes so assertive as to seem brash. “Scientists, bound only by reason, are society’s true anarchists,” he has written — and he clearly sees himself as one. “Kaflooey theories” make him crazy, especially if they catch on. Fisher, who has long been the media’s go-to interview for what some in the autism arena call “parents rights,” makes him particularly nuts, as in “You just want to scream.” The reason? “She lies,” he says flatly.

In dismissing the suit some eight months later, the judge wrote:

Under controlling state and federal law in this jurisdiction, the challenged remark by Dr. Offit, about a matter of substantial public concern, is not actionable as defamation because it is neither capable of being understood as stating actual facts nor of being proven true or false. It is, therefore, an expression of opinion that is immune from civil liability under the common law of Virginia, the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Fisher’s press release also blasts the AAP for successfully lobbying Congress for the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. Fisher didn’t mention that her activism was itself instrumental in the passage of that law.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David N. Brown // May 15, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    I think it’s overstepping things to say that the NVIC “falsely labels Dr. Paul Offit as a `vaccine patent holder’.” I don’t know all the “legalese”, but I don’t see how somebody listed as an inventor on a patent could NOT be considered a patent holder. Holding a patent is COMPLETELY separate from making money off of it. Among the many striking oversights by “anti-vaxxers” in hyping Offit’s Rotateq income was considering, as part of the “bigger picture”, what percentage of patents EVER earn money for their owners. I don’t know myself, but I’m sure it is NOT large.

  • 2 Chemmomo // May 19, 2011 at 9:32 am

    David, it’s not “legalese,” it’s jargon. My understanding is that the patent “holder” IS the party who’s making money off of it, since patent rights can be transferred or sold.

    The inventors always remain the inventors, but they don’t necessarily continue to hold the rights to said invention.

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