Monday, November 18, 2013

Anti-Vaxxer Appointed to FDA Vaccine Committee

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently appointed Stephanie Christner, Doctor of Osteopathy, to the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC). Dr. Christner is serving as the voting consumer representative on the twelve-member committee. FDA has charged this committee with reviewing and evaluating vaccine safety and effectiveness. The committee also reviews appropriate use of vaccines and biological products intended for public use, including clinical trial and other data submitted by drug companies seeking licensure of new vaccines.

Vaccine Watch and many other organizations are concerned by the FDA’s choice of Dr. Christner because she is an active advocate against vaccines. She currently serves as a board member for the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), which is an anti-vaccine organization that regularly spreads vaccine misinformation. In 2010 she co-founded a company that specializes in allergy, GMO and preservative-free foods. She also has a clinical practice in psychiatry and neurofeedback.

In 2009, Dr. Christener’s infant daughter died and she blamed vaccines. Vaccine Watch and others are sympathetic in the matchless and devastating loss of a child. However, she appears unmovable in her belief that vaccines caused the death of the child, despite a lack of data to support her belief. Dr. Christener described her ordeal in the anti-vaccination film “The Greater Good;” a movie that has been thoroughly dismantled for being deceptive and misleading. “The Greater Good” is an anti-vaccine propaganda piece and passed on blatant misinformation.

The FDA states that it recruits qualified experts with minimal conflicts of interest but they made a mistake in appointing Dr. Christner to the VRBPAC committee. The FDA further states:

            Members and the chair are selected by the Commissioner or the designee
            from among authorities knowledgeable in the fields of immunology,
molecular biology, rDNA, virology, bacteriology, epidemiology or biostatistics, allergy, preventative medicine, infectious diseases, pediatrics,
microbiology and biochemistry.

Dr. Christner’s appointment to the VRBPAC committee has given false legitimacy to the anti-vaccination position and the long-term effects could be detrimental. As we struggle against the outbreak of preventable disease and blatant propaganda against vaccines, FDA should be even more scrupulous in ensuring the objectivity of their appointees.

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