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I am never really surprised at the antics of the anti-vaccination liars, but sometimes they do cause me to make a reflexive blink. In September, 2004, the Immunisation Awareness Society in New Zealand were running the following public notice on their web site. Meningococcal disease was a serious problem in parts of the country at the time and these liars were saying that vaccination was pointless because the disease is caused by the analgesic drug acetaminophen or paracetamol. They made the mistake of using someone's trademark and got jumped on. Next time they repeat the lie, and be assured that someone of their ilk will repeat it, they will be sure to use the generic name.
PAMOL® AND MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE
CORRECTION OF PREVIOUS INFORMATION ON THIS WEBSITE
In earlier versions of our website and this PDF file the IAS made reference to the medication, "Pamol®". At no time did IAS intend to imply or state that Pamol® causes meningococcal disease. IAS unequivocally states that neither Pamol® nor other medications containing paracetamol cause meningococcal disease. IAS has withdrawn any and all references to Pamol® in this and all other material and/or publications for which it is responsible.
In an attempt to provide parents with information and options, IAS may be guilty of an over-zealous approach in its wording, visuals and examples. IAS apologises for any misleading or deceptive representations that it may have been responsible for. IAS unreservedly withdraws and apologies for any statement that may have been interpreted as direct advice to consumers not to use Pamol in the treatment of their babies’ and childrens’ ailments.
Paracetamol Liars Part I (2/10/2004)
Two weeks ago I mentioned that a group of anti-vaccination liars in New Zealand had been lying about paracetamol causing meningococcal disease, and that they had been caught out using someone's brand name to do it. Someone was not happy with what I said. My responses are in italics.
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 23:38:53 +1200
From: Juderon <email@example.com>
I've had a request to analyse the debate on paracetamol use and meningococcal meningitis in NZ and guess what?
"New Zealand madness (18/9/2004)
I am never really surprised at the antics of the anti-vaccination liars, but sometimes they do cause me to make a reflexive blink. The Immunisation Awareness Society in New Zealand are currently running the following public notice on their web site. Meningococcal disease is a serious problem in parts of the country and these liars were saying that vaccination was pointless because the disease is caused by the analgesic drug acetaminophen or paracetamol. They made the mistake of using someone's trademark and got jumped on. Next time they repeat the lie, and be assured that someone of their ilk will repeat it, they will be sure to use the generic name.
Firstly, I was not commenting on "the debate", as there is no debate to comment on. Paracetamol has nothing to do with meningococcal disease except in the decayed minds of anti-vaccination liars and their ilk. I was commenting on lies told by liars. Secondly, I realise that in alt-world near enough is good enough, but the words above were exactly what I said, not "something like".
Are you able to point me to where the IAS said that meningococcal disease was caused by paracetamol? This is important, as I must have missed it in my research of the topic.
As the IAS have changed their web site to remove the claim, no, I can't show you where they said this. I can, however, show you where they apologise for saying it. Also, if you have time for some more research, you might like to find out what Oscar Wilde said about sarcasm and wit.
I can find medical statements that paracetamol use is linked to meningococcal disease and that causality can't be ruled out.
So, it's you who is saying it? Many, perhaps most, of the children with the disease have been breast fed. Causality can't be ruled out.
Can you forward that statement to your pharma gurus and ask them to provide evidence that that is not the case?
Can you ask you local nursing mothers' support group to provide evidence that breast feeding is not the cause?
Of course, you are absolutely correct to note that they made the mistake of using a proprietary name when they should have used the generic term.
So you agree that they should have just said that paracetamol caused the disease, rather than using a brand name?
You might be interested in two press statements I point out this past week... I'll send them under separate cover.
I await your response. If you can provide the evidence that the IAS said that vaccination "was pointless because the disease is caused by the analgesic drug acetaminophen or paracetamol." or words to that effect, I'll provide you with some humble pie that you can distribute to your fellow ratbags... If not, I would expect a gentlemen to apologise for what, I think the IAS said was, "an over-zealous approach in its wording, visuals and examples."
As I said above, it cannot be proved now because the IAS have changed the web site and the PDF file. They admit to these changes themselves. All I can point to is their statement that says that when they said it they didn't really mean it.
You might like to look at this week's update to The Millenium Project, where I examine the paracetamol claims of IAS in a bit more detail
Paracetamol Liars Part II (2/10/2004)
I am never surprised when I find anti-vaccination liars telling lies about vaccination. That is what they do. What does surprise me, however, is how sloppy they sometimes are in their lying, and how easy it is for people with even limited resources to prove that the lies are lies. I know that they assume that nobody will ever check, but sometimes people do.
For some time a New Zealand anti-vaccination organisation, the Immunisation Awareness Society (www.ias.org.nz), has been running a scare campaign against medications containing acetaminophen or paracetamol by linking their use to the spread of meningococcal disease, which is a severe medical problem in New Zealand at the moment. The objective of IAS is to deter parents from having their children vaccinated, and the tactic they are using in this case is to suggest that the disease is relatively harmless but can be made worse by the use of antipyretic drugs which reduce the fever associated with the disease. To support this, IAS have produced a report titled "Paracetamol – it’s (sic) role in fever, illness and recovery" which can be found at www.ias.org.nz/paracetamol.pdf. (You can see a copy here)
I have had long experience with the opponents of real medicine and I am always suspicious when they start citing the medical literature. Almost universally, the citations fall into one or more of the following categories:
The intention is to impress people who might not have scientific training, and even if they did, might not be able to locate the cited research. Put another way, the intention is to deceive.
I have access to the library at one of Australia largest teaching hospitals, so I set out to check the references in the IAS report. As I expected, many fell into the various classes mentioned above, but I was able to locate at least one paper. In the IAS report it says "And last but not least, if you want to turn chickenpox into fulminant necrotising fasciitis – go ahead – and give tylenol/paracetamol" and a reference is given to a paper in the April 1999 edition of Pediatrics. In the abstract of that paper, the authors say:
Conclusion. Ibuprofen use was associated with NF in the setting of primary varicella. Additional studies are needed to establish whether ibuprofen use has a causal role in the development of NF and its complications during varicella.
I didn't have to read beyond the first page of this paper to find that it clearly shows that the research had nothing to do with the product Tylenol or its active ingredient, but was concerned about a possible effect of ibuprofen, a different chemical altogether. Citing this paper was not a mistake, or confusion about any possible connection between ibuprofen and paracetamol, or ignorance of chemistry. It was a blatant lie, and the author hoped that nobody would check. Someone did. (The author, Hilary Butler, recently called me an "emotive lunatic" in a message to the British Medical Journal web site. I don't hold this against her, because she was defending the right of people to shake babies to death at the time and my parents taught me to be tolerant of the mentally ill.) I am not surprised that people who would lie about the dangers of vaccination would lie about something else, but there is a particular irony to this case of deception. There is glaring hypocrisy when people who support the claim that chickenpox is always a harmless disease use one of the nastier sequelae of that disease to frighten parents away from vaccinating their children. If all hypocrisy and lies were to be removed from the publications of the anti-vaccination movement, however, there would be nothing left.
The IAS have been in trouble before for using a brand name instead of a generic name for a medication. There is a "correction" appearing on the front page of the IAS web site, as well as on some of the PDF files of reports contained in the site, which dissociates the brand name "Pamol" from any suggestion that it might actually cause meningococcal disease. I assume from this that such an inference could be drawn from statements which had previously appeared on the site and in IAS publications, and that the lawyers representing Parke-Davis/Warner Lambert have forced the retraction to protect the reputation of the brand. However, the site still contains a statement, not backed by any scientific research, that the product branded "Tylenol" can directly cause children to suffer from a particularly disgusting and distressing condition. I thought that it would be appropriate to write a letter to the lawyers who manage intellectual property rights and trade marks for Johnson & Johnson in New Zealand to point out the devaluation of the Tylenol brand, and I made the following suggestion:
I urge you to take action to protect your client’s valuable brand name from abuse by people who want to use it to further their perverted agenda to prevent children from receiving protection against dangerous diseases.
I hope that the Immunisation Awareness Society appreciates the efforts I have made to ensure that their publications and scientific claims are all truthful and trustworthy. After all, if they decide to only publish the truth about the dangers of vaccines then their workload will be considerably reduced.
Paracetamol Liars Part III (9/10/2004)
The nonsense continues. Mr Law has sent me some more information, but he doesn't want me to share it. Too bad.
Date: Tue, 05 Oct 2004 15:04:46 +1300
From: Juderon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: IAS Article
The password is iasratbags... for your info only...
I've removed the five references to the Brand in question -- [Paracetamol-x]...
Otherwise it's exactly as per original...
Please advise which parts your accusations relate to...
Risk & Policy Analyst
Paracetamol Liars Part IV (16/10/2004)
Mr Law was not happy with my less than immediate response to his complaint about what I said two weeks ago, so he wrote again. My responses are in italics.
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2004 10:49:28 +1300
From: Juderon <email@example.com>
I see that you haven't posted/interacted with my second email...
I don't work for you, but if you are prepared to give me a credit card number and authorisation so that I can charge you my normal hourly rate I will move responding to you towards the front of the queue. You can download a form from my business web site, which I am sure you can find.
It's fascinating how people like you like trying to 'engage' people with their hands tied behind their back.
You said it, not me. "Engaging" with you is like fighting someone with their hands tied behind their back.
The fact that you do not have the IAS originals off the website is no excuse for honest criticism. I sent you them in good faith... the fact that you choose to lie by omission is your choice... it only brings your cause into even more contempt.
I do have the IAS files, and I had read them before I started commenting on them. When an anti-vaccination organisation produces a paper (password required - "iasratbags") titled "Meningococcal Meningitis - making an informed decision about the new MeNZB vaccine" which contains the words "Find out about the risks and benefits of the vaccine, and the real risks of the disease (based on facts not the hype and fear)" and then goes on to list paracetamol under the heading "Risk Factors", followed by a statement that says "Giving paracetamol increases the risk of meningococcal meningitis", one can fairly assume that the anti-vaccination organisation is telling people that they don't have to worry about a minor disease which kills quickly because they can reduce the risk by not taking paracetamol. Put another way, this pack of liars is saying that both paracetamol and the vaccine are more dangerous than the disease. They might not use those exact words, but the meaning is clear to anyone who recognises facts.
For the record, Tylenol is not a brand that's sold in NZ...
Johnson & Johnson think enough of the brand name to pay to have the trademark registered in New Zealand and to pay some lawyers to guard the name for them. It doesn't matter whether it is sold or not; it only matters that someone owns the name and that that name has value.
Paracetamol Liars Part V (23/10/2004)
Mr Law is at it again. He doesn't give up easily.
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2004 21:51:12 +1300
Subject: Fwd: Ratbag
Gidday again Peter
It never ceases to amaze me how you manipulate the facts... can't even get the dates right on your emails... this one was not the 5-10-2004...
You've posted my email of the 12th over the header of the email of the 5th...
That's falsifying an email...
Actually, it's what is called "a mistake", which I made while copying and pasting from my mail program to FrontPage. Thank you for pointing out the mistake. It has now been fixed.
You clearly do stand on high moral ground.
Can you answer the question of the email dated the 5th?
I did, in my answer to the email of October 12.
For the record, I put the password in to prevent any one from engaging in sculdugery...
Then it only needed a password to prevent changing the file. I do that all the time. It didn't need a password to stop people reading it. If you want some training on how to use Acrobat, please see my business web site for consulting rates.
NZ Nonsense (30/10/2004)
Ron Law, the Nuisance from New Zealand, has accused me of much perfidy for a mistake in copying information from one place to another. As what was copied was the date on an email and the date was not material to the matter under discussion, I can only assume that he is clutching at straws. Again. He sent me some graphs which demonstrate something or other, but as the discussion was about a particular case of lying by some anti-vaccination liars and his graphs had nothing to do with the lie except to blow smoke around it, I am not sure why I have them.
I am not sure what prompted this next email, but I love a challenge.
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2004 22:41:15 +1300
From: Juderon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Peter, all I can say is you are a man of no honour!
I find your modus operandi despicable...
Try posting the attached on your website... bet you don't!!
Risk & Policy Analyst
Bet I will!! As regular readers will know, I am not shy about publishing anything, especially if it has nothing to do with anything that I have said. You can read the complete saga here. Links to the seven pdf files are below. None of them have anything to do with the lies from IAS about how giving your kids medicine can increase the risk of disease. But I expected nothing more, so there is no harm in posting the files.
Good news! Spread it! (10/11/2012)
I hadn't heard much lately about the despicable Immunisation Awareness Society in New Zealand. At one time they were spreading lies about paracetamol causing diseases and this gives you an idea of how unhinged they were. Of course they spread the usual lies about vaccination with the only "awareness" they are interested in being something like "Don't do it! Your children will die".
They rose to the top of the swamp in September, when the NZ Charities Registration Board looked at the charitable status of the IAS and decided that it was time to end the farce. You can read the full statement here, but this is the important part:
Now, if the authorities in Australia will just do the same to the Australian Vaccination Network ...
I was thinking about the cancellation of charity status for the NZ Immunisation Awareness Society, and I decided that they would probably appreciate a Kind and Gentle email as they would have been feeling a bit down.
You could have no idea how happy I was to read that your charity registration has been cancelled
We don't hear much about you here in Australia, and checking my records shows that the last time I had anything to do with you it was when you were lying about paracetamol in 2004. You can read what I had to say about you then at http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/comment/ias.htm
I must send congratulations to Darcy, Ben and Grant. Perhaps they can help us get the charity registration of your Australian counterpart cancelled too. Charities are supposed to do good in the world not contribute to the deaths and illness of children, the inevitable result of your insane opposition to vaccines.
Just to cheer you up, there has been an outbreak of measles near my place. I'm sure this brings a smile to your face, even if it just brings fear to the faces of the children's parents. But what would you care about that? They aren't your children.
(Darcy was the person who submitted the report to the authorities that resulted in the charity status cancellation. Ben and Grant helped out with support on their blogs. Their actions made the IAS cry.)