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Eli Lilly Knew of Thimerosal Dangers for Decades

Jun 18, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP In 2005, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. published a lengthy examination of the history of Eli Lilly´s deadly mercury compound, Thimerosal, in vaccines and its decades-long history of suppressed data about dangers to those receiving it. The piece described the outcome of a secret, highly-secluded 2000 meeting—The Simpsonwood Conference—involving a group of government scientists and health officials convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

Internal Eli Lilly documents revealed by the Kennedy paper show the company knew immediately that its product—Thimerosal—could cause damage, even death, in animals and humans.  Lilly tested Thimerosal in 1930, giving it to 22 terminal meningitis patients; within weeks, all 22 patients died.  This test was not included in Lilly’s report “declaring thimerosal safe.”  In 1935, researchers at vaccine manufacturer, Pittman-Moore, warned Lilly that its claims about Thimerosal´s safety "did not check with ours."  In a study Pittman conducted with dogs injected with thimerosal-based vaccines, half of the dogs fell ill prompting researchers to “declare the preservative ‘unsatisfactory as a serum intended for use on dogs.’”

The mounting case against Thimerosal did not stop in the 1930s.  During WWII, the Department of Defense used Thimerosal in vaccines on soldiers but required Lilly to label it "poison."  In 1967, a study in Applied Microbiology found Thimerosal killed mice when added to vaccines.  In 1972, Lilly´s found Thimerosal to be "toxic to tissue cells" in concentrations as low as one part per million (PPM), 100 times weaker than the in a typical vaccine.  Despite all of this ongoing and emerging data, Lilly “continued to promote Thimerosal as ‘nontoxic,’” even including Thimerosal in topical disinfectants.  In 1977, ten babies at a Toronto hospital died when an antiseptic preserved with Thimerosal was dabbed on their umbilical cords.  In 1982, the FDA proposed a ban on over-the-counter products containing Thimerosal.  In 1991 the FDA considered banning Thimerosal from animal vaccines.

Horribly, in 1991, the CDC recommended “infants be injected with a series of mercury-laced vaccines:  Newborns would be vaccinated for hepatitis B within 24 hours of birth; two-month-old infants would be immunized for haemophilus influenzae B and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis.”  The same year, Dr. Maurice Hilleman, a Merck vaccine program luminary, warned Merck that six-month-olds administered Thimerosal-laced shots would “suffer dangerous exposure to mercury” and recommended Thimerosal be discontinued, "especially when used on infants and children," noting the industry knew of nontoxic alternatives. "The best way to go," he added, "is to switch to dispensing the actual vaccines without adding preservatives."

Thimerosal enables big pharm to package vaccines in multi-dose vials costing half as much as smaller, single-dose vials, cutting costs for international agency distribution to impoverished areas.  Money prompted Merck to ignore Hilleman.  Government officials pushed Thimerosal-laced vaccines and by 1999, children received an unbelievable 22 immunizations by the time they reached first grade.  Before 1989, American preschoolers received eleven vaccinations:  polio, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis and measles-mumps-rubella.

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