FDA appoints anti-vaxxer to Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee
I would apologize for my extended absence but I’m sure you’ve been busy with your own life and haven’t even noticed. I felt that I had to write today, because it seems that common sense has been tossed out the window once again. Why? Because the Food and Drug Administration has seen fit to appoint an anti-vaccine advocate, Dr. Stephanie Christner, as the Consumer Representative for the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC).
Dr. Christner may appear to have the qualifications (described further below) for membership on VRBPAC, as she is a D.O. However, there are other issues that may outweigh her ability to objectively review and evaluate the safety, effectiveness, and appropriate use of vaccinations. As covered by Orac in the past, Dr. Christner tragically lost her infant daughter in 2008. As also covered by Orac, Dr. Christner blames the death of her daughter on vaccines. I have a great deal of empathy for Dr. Christner, as losing a child is simply matchless in terms of devastation. However, I do have some concerns in that she appears to be unmovable in her view that her daughter died as a result of vaccinations, despite a dearth any supporting data for this belief.
Dr. Christner described her horrifying ordeal in the antivaccination film “The Greater Good”. This particular movie has been justifiably and thoroughly dismantled, piece by piece, as a misleading and frankly deceptive bit of anti-vax propaganda. She is also a current board member of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), a well-known anti-vaccine organization that cloaks itself in claims that it is merely trying to promote “well-informed vaccine decision-making”. Unfortunately, both the organization and its leader are quite adept at passing on blatant misinformation.
Dr. Christner’s affiliations with this film and with NVIC strongly suggest that she is a poor choice for VRBPAC, which, according to its website:
“reviews and evaluates data concerning the safety, effectiveness, and appropriate use of vaccines and related biological products which are intended for use in the prevention, treatment, or diagnosis of human diseases, and, as required, any other product for which the Food and Drug Administration has regulatory responsibility”.
The page also states that the FDA is currently engaged in
“ongoing efforts to recruit qualified experts with minimal conflicts of interest who are interested in serving on FDA advisory committees”.
So how does one become a member of this committee, you may be wondering? Well, no need to cogitate further:
Members and the chair are selected by the Commissioner or designee from among authorities knowledgeable in the fields of immunology, molecular biology, rDNA, virology, bacteriology, epidemiology or biostatistics, allergy, preventive medicine, infectious diseases, pediatrics, microbiology, and biochemistry.
Reader, am I the only one left scratching my head about the selection of Dr. Christner for this position? It appears to me that this appointment gives a false legitimacy to the anti-vaccination position, and while the potential long-term effects can only be speculated upon, I’m not seeing kittens and unicorns. If I were on the board, I would resign in protest.