As an employee of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is certainly within Dr. Mark Schiffman’s job description to write articles promoting human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. After all, his employer owns patents on HPV vaccine production technologies and receives licensing fees from the sales of HPV vaccines.
The HPV vaccine, Gardasil, based largely on technology developed at NIH and produced by Merck & Co., was approved by the FDA in June 2006. As early as Feb 2007, an article was published in The NIH Record, titled, From Lab to Market: The HPV Vaccine proclaiming, “Perhaps no other recent product on the market demonstrates successful health care technology transfer better than the HPV vaccine.” What a great commercial success!
The NIH, funded by taxpayers, also maintains a forum for scientific discourse, called PubMed Commons which hopefully “will leverage the social power of the internet to encourage constructive criticism and high quality discussions of scientific issues that will both enhance understanding and provide new avenues of collaboration within the community”.
In December 2016, Dr. Schiffman and a few industry-paid consultants published an article titled “Carcinogenic human papillomavirus infection.”
January 19, 2017, the eminent pathologist Dr. Sin Hang Lee commented via PubMed Commons stating:
Schiffman and colleagues finally admitted in the end of the abstract that implementation of HPV vaccination and screening globally remains a challenge. However, the authors did not present the whole truth required for a balanced analysis.
It took nearly a month for Dr. Mark Schiffman to respond to Dr. Lee’s public comment with reassurances that the efficacy and safety profile of Gardasil had been well established.
Five days later, Dr. Lee responded to Dr. Schiffman saying:
Dr. Schiffman’s responses to my initial comment on the Primer needs rebuttal to point out its misleading and obfuscating statements.
Almost immediately, the discussion was effectively shut down by the removal of Dr. Lee’s comments. Does this not seem like a gross violation of the public trust in an organization such as NIH which has promised to ‘encourage constructive criticism and high quality discussions of scientific issues’?
Is it not a serious conflict of interest for NIH moderators to remove Dr. Sin Hang Lee’s dissenting comments from a site that is supposed to be promoting high quality scientific discussions?
The full text of the comment, response and rebuttal was downloaded before removal by one of the readers and can be read here.
Dr. Lee said he is discussing a very serious scientific medical issue. He did not find any inappropriate language in his comments or rebuttals.
Therefore, on behalf of thousands of families around the world dealing with serious new medical conditions after Gardasil administration, the SaneVax team requests that NIH moderators restore the original comment, response and rebuttal to the PubMed Commons’ website. It is in the public’s best interest that Dr. Schiffman and Dr. Lee continue their scientific debate.
Alternatively, the NIH moderators must publicly publish valid reasons for the removal of Dr. Lee’s comments.
In the words of Winston Churchill:
In science you don’t need to be polite, you merely have to be right.
Open, honest debate is the only way to restore public confidence. Censorship will not work.