I sent the
following letter to the National Autistic Society at the end of March 2007.
To The Director, National Autistic Society
National Autistic Society,
I see that a drug company which makes MMR vaccine
is one of your financial supporters (and has been since 2003). I understand that
the company has, for example, paid for mailing to over 4,000 GP surgeries with
information about autism.
Since there is a huge debate ongoing about
whether or not autism is caused by the MMR vaccine I would be interested to hear
the society's explanation for accepting this funding.
Do you not feel
that by accepting money from GlaxoSmithKline you are abandoning your
independence, your reputation and your value to autistic patients and their
I ask these questions as a medical author as well as a registered
Dr Vernon Coleman
On the 16th April I received a reply from
Benet Middleton, the society's Direcctor of Communications.
the society said:
`The question of who to accept funding from is
often a difficult issue for all charities, not just the NAS. On the one hand we
have to be aware of the issues you raise around reputation and independence and
on the other we have to ensure that we generate the income required to provide
the support, advice, advocacy and awareness raising that are so vitally
`Our Board of Trustees adopted a stance that we would not work
with any company that acted illegally or acted in contravention to our
charitable objectives, in part to reflect that everyone has their own personal
ethics and views and it would be impossible to act on all of these. However, in
addition we will not enter into partnerships that will have a detrimental effect
on people with autism or our reputation.'
`In this case we have accepted
money from GSK for a number of small projects, including a GP mailing to raise
awareness of autism last year. None of these projects have had any link to
anything we have said on the MMR vaccine and GSK have never raised this topic
with us. Furthermore, the overall funding to date amounts to such a tiny
percentage of our income that it could not possibly influence our position on
this topic when stacked up against the support we receive from people living
Here is my reply:
The National Autistic Society isn't alone.
Many large and
successful charities and organisations set up to help people with specific
health problems, accept money from drug companies. It is no surprise that drug
companies usually fund organisations which deal with problems appropriate to
their products. But, not being entirely stupid, the drug companies never bring
up the important issues in any direct way. The fact is, however, that they know
that a charity which takes money from a drug company will be compromised and
that whatever the charity says will be tainted. Do you honestly believe that the
National Autistic Society can now ever produce any worthwhile contribution to
the debate on the link between vaccination and autism?
Many people (me
included) believe that many or even most cases of autism are a result of brain
damage caused by vaccination. For the National Autistic Society to accept money
from a drug company which produces a vaccine which has been linked to autism in
this way seems to me to be extraordinarily immoral.
The Society seems to
be claiming that it hasn't accepted very much money from GlaxoSmithKline and
that it is not, therefore, compromised by this association.
So, how much
money will GlaxoSmithKline have to give before the National Autistic Society is
compromised by the association? How many other drug companies contribute to the
(I note, incidentally, that in your letter you refer not to
GlaxoSmithKline (the name of the drug company) but simply to GSK - as though not
printing out the full name of the company will somehow make the link less
Personally, I feel that a hooker who charges £5 for sex is
no less a hooker than a hooker who charges £1,000.
will appear on my website and in a forthcoming book.
Dr Vernon Coleman
Copyright Vernon Coleman 2007