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Bogus Urine Metals Testing Fails In Vaccine Court

Posted Mar 13 2010 2:14pm

The Thimersoal “test cases” in the OAP relied on bogus urine mercury testing . Among many other common problems the petitioners had in providing any sound scientific support for the notion that mecury can cause autism, that, was at least in part, the apparent conclusion of all three of the special masters.

I just skimmed through the recent decisions by the US Court Of Federal Claims in the Thimerosal “test cases” that were part of the Omnibus Autism Proceeding , and the expert testimony provided by Dr. Brent (respondent) in this regard is pretty clear:

From the Mead Decision

When specifically asked about the urine mercury tests that were performed on William, Dr. Brent said that the tests “showed pretty much exactly what you’d expect for the normal population, that their unprovoked specimens are normal. Yet, when they give chelators, most of [mercury excretion results] are increased.” Id. at 1852-1853. Dr. Brent expressed a concern about the use of data in this way to suggest that a condition exists that, in fact, does not. See id. at 1853. He stated that “it’s data like this that has been used as an excuse to subject these children to chelation therapy where the data supports [a finding] that their urine mercury status is totally normal.” Id. at 1853.

From the King Decision

Moreover, Dr. Brent explained that when the results of mercury testing of Jordan, both provoked and non-provoked, are viewed in their entirety, they are exactly what one would expect from an individual without any mercury-related problem. That is, Jordan’s non-provoked test results were within the normal range for non-provoked testing. (Tr. 1852-53, 4340.) At the same time, while his provoked results were outside the normal range for non-provoked testing, that is not surprising since the provocation/chelation process is designed to specifically provoke an increased excretion of metals. (Tr. 1852-53, 4340-41, 4347.) As Drs. Brent and Fombonne explained, administration of a chelating agent to anyone, autistic or not, mercury-poisoned or not, will always be followed by increased excretion of mercury.118 (Ex. M, p. 74; Tr. 1852, 4340-41, 4343.)

Interestingly, the added scientific clarity of the special masters with regard to bogus urine metals testing is also present to some degree in all three test cases:

Here’s one example from the Mead Decision

Moreover, a subsequent study, as reported in the 2007 Soden article filed as RMRL 458,150 could not confirm the 2003 Bradstreet study results. See Mead Tr. at 1844. The investigators found that “DMSA provoked excretion testing did not produce evidence of an excess chelatable body burden among the autistic [study] participants.” RMRL 458 at 480. The investigators concluded that “[i]n the absence of a novel mechanism of heavy metal toxicity or an alternate therapeutic action of chelators, the data presented provide[d] no justification for chelation therapy for the [study] participants.”

Many will remember the conclusion of Soden et al.

“In the absence a proven novel mode of heavy metal toxicity, the proportion of autistic participants in this study whose DMSA provoked excretion results demonstrate an excess chelatable body burden of As, Cd, Pb, or Hg is zero.”

But perhaps the most interesting of all, is the common thread that the reliance upon the bogus mercury testing seems pretty much acknowledged for what it is by both the special masters and the petitioners’ expert:

From the Dwyer Decision

Doctor Mumper’s willingness to rely on Colin’s mercury test results as evidence of high levels of mercury in his body was particularly troubling. She admitted that his results were not typical of those she saw in other autistic children. She admitted that she knew of no research into normal mercury excretion levels after chelation against which Colin’s one positive mercury test could be measured.741 It appeared that regardless of the results for mercury levels, Dr. Mumper was willing to opine that they reflected mercury’s role in ASD.

From the King Decision

In short, a careful analysis of the record demonstrates that there is no valid basis for Dr. Mumper’s view that the results of mercury excretion testing on Jordan King offer support for a conclusion that thimerosal-containing vaccines played a role in causing Jordan’s autism. To the contrary, the evidence supports a conclusion that Dr. Mumper’s reliance on such mercury tests has no basis in science or logic. Indeed, upon cross-examination even Dr. Mumper acknowledged that there is no particular profile or pattern of post-provocation test results that points to a finding that a child has mercury-induced autism. (Tr. 1555-60, 1568-69.) When pressed, Dr. Mumper could not even suggest an example of any type of result on a post-provocation mercury urine test that would not, in her analysis, support a claim of mercury-induced autism. (Tr. 1558-60.) Dr. Mumper’s analysis in this regard was illogical, and completely unpersuasive.119

Yep, regardless of the results of a scientifically meaningless test, it’s the mercury. Right.

Remember, these were the three Thimerosal “test cases”, presumably chosen by the Petitioner’s Steering Committee (PSC) because they offered the best opportunity to introduce good, and representative scientific evidence for the hypothesized role of thimerosal in the etiology of autism. It looks like they failed miserably, and this doesn’t seem surprising when it’s clear the cases leaned on at least one form of laboratory testing that’s clearly scientifically meaningless.

It won’t be surprising when many of the die-hard anti-vaccine and “alternative” autism medicine brigade ignore the fact that bogus urine toxic metals testing just had a bright light shined on it by the vaccine court. They’ll be likely to claim some form of conspiracy or politics about the cases, despite the fact that the spotlight revealed an apparent decision-making tool of many a “DAN! doctor” to not only be worthless in medicine, but also worthless in court.

On a related note, there has been recent news that a couple of “ DAN! doctors ” are facing a lawsuit in which bogus urine toxic metals testing is called out directly. Aside from numerous other problems they face in the complaint , it should be interesting to see how the defendants (Dr. Dan Rossignol, Dr. Anjum Usman, and Doctors Data, Inc.) explain the potential role of comparing chelator-provoked urine metals levels to a non-provoked reference range. If the three test cases in the OAP are an indication of the state of actual scientific support for such testing, the defendants would seem to have plenty to worry about.

Additional reading:

Mead v. Secretary of Health and Human Services Case No. 03-215V
King v. Secretary of Health and Human Services Case No. 03-584V
Dwyer v. Secretary of Health and Human Services Case No. 03-1202V
Thimerosal-Autism Test Cases Dismissed
Doctors sued over ‘dangerous’ autism treatment
Suing DAN! practitioners for malpractice: It’s about time
How the “Urine Toxic Metals” Test Is Used to Defraud Patients
24-hour provoked urine excretion test for heavy metals in children with autism and typically developing controls, a pilot study

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