09.28.07

ENZI SAYS INVESTIGATION DOES NOT SUPPORT ALLEGATIONS OF MISCONDUCT IN AUTISM RESEARCH

Washington, D.C. – Following an eighteen-month investigation requested byparents of children with autism, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ranking Member ofthe Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today said thatallegations of misconduct in connection with the findings by public health authorities thatthimerosal, a preservative once used in vaccines, does not cause autism cannot beconfirmed. “With up to 1 in 166 children being diagnosed with autism in the United States, itis vital that we improve our understanding of the causes, symptoms, interventions, andsupports and services available for individuals with autism spectrum disorder,” Enziadded. “But for the most part, the allegations brought to the HELP Committee’s attentioncannot be confirmed.” The Committee’s investigators concluded that allegations that autismresearchers were clouded by conflicts of interest, that the CDC interfered in vaccinestudies, and that public health agencies covered up evidence linking vaccines to autism,could not be substantiated. “Our investigation shows that public health officials conducted thorough, sciencebasedstudies on autism and vaccines,” Enzi said. Enzi’s comments came as the Committee released the Executive Summary of thereport, “Thimerosal and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Alleged Misconduct byGovernment Agencies and Private Entities.” A copy of the summary is available at:http://help.senate.gov/Min_press/autism.pdf “While I recognize there are active scientific debates regarding a possibleconnection between thimerosal in childhood vaccines and autism, Congress is not in aposition to substitute its judgment for that of scientists,” Enzi said. “Therefore, myinvestigation focused not on the possible link between thimerosal and autism, but on theallegations of misconduct by government officials and private entities in connection withthe thimerosal controversy.” Beginning in 2005, the HELP Committee, then under Enzi’s Chairmanship,conducted an 18-month investigation into allegations of misconduct on the part ofindividuals and US government officials related to the use of the preservative thimerosalin childhood vaccines and its possible contribution to an increase in rates of autism. Overthe course of the investigation, Enzi’s staff interviewed more than 80 individuals andexamined tens of thousands of pages of documents. His staff spoke with a number ofparents of children with autism about their concerns and their experiences, as well asindividuals from the scientific community. Last year, Congress passed into law the Combating Autism Act, P.L. 109-416. .The act , which passed both the Senate and House unanimously, authorizes $945 milliondollars over five years for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to helpcombat autism through research, screening, intervention and education. It will expandresearch at National Institutes of Health (NIH) with regard to the possible causes andpotential interventions for people living with autism, increase autism awareness throughCenters of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and coordinate health, education, anddisability programs for persons diagnosed with ASD and other developmentaldisabilities. “We are taking steps to help ensure that there are effective programs in place tomeet the diverse needs of persons with autism and their families, and that these programswork in close coordination with one another,” Enzi said. ####

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