Paul Offit explains the money side of the rotavirus vaccine he worked on
Posted Sep 14 2009 10:12pm
Misinformationists love a vacuum. Unfortunately, Dr. Paul Offit left them a big opening by not disclosing how much his hospital, the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), paid him as his share of the royalties from the sale of the rights to his rotavirus vaccine invention.
Dr. Offit invented a rotavirus vaccine, together with CHOP faculty members Dr. Stanley Plotkin and Dr. Fred Clark. This vaccine was commercialized as RotaTeq. CHOP is reported to have been paid $182M, with a net income of $153M.
From that, Doctors Offit, Plotkin and Clark would have been paid an inventor’s share.
In my opinion, it was sufficient for Dr. Offit to acknowledge that it was a significant amount of money.
Mr. Mark Blaxill and Mr. Dan Olmsted of the Age of Autism blog felt differently. They felt it necessary to put an number to Dr. Offit’s royalty payment from CHOP.
Dr. Offit and CHOP declined to respond to their request for information on this subject.
As a point of interest: CHOP didn’t respond to my request, made at that time, either.
In this information vacuum, Misters Blaxill and Olmsted used public information from a scattering of sources to estimate that Dr. Offit was payed between $29M and $55M.
They were off by about a factor of 10. As noted in a recent post, I showed how one could easily make an accurate estimate of the royalty payment from that sale, and it was about $6M. Misters Olmsted and Blaxill, who spent a considerable amount of time scouring information from the University of Arkansas to the University of California missed the easily obtainable public information on the CHOP website.
Before I wrote that piece, I contacted Misters Blaxill and Olmsted with the correct information, even including a statement that Dr. Offit had acknowledged that the estimate I came up with was accurate. I was informed that a public statement was necessary by Dr. Offit.
I found this odd because on Sept. 9, a statement by Dr. Offit was reported.
In an email correspondence with David Brown August 18, 2009, Dr. Paul Offit writes:
CHOP sold its patent for $182 million. This information was made publicly available and was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer at the time. The inventors, Fred Clark, Stan Plotkin, and me split 10 percent of that three ways. This means that we each received about $6 million. It was a ridiculous amont of money and certainly far more than any of us needs, but it is also a far cry from what has been claimed.
But the part that hurts the most is the continued claim that we did this for the money. I don’t know any scientist who does it for the money (you certainly don’t make much in salary). You do it because it’s fun and because you think you can contribute. And the reward for creating a vaccine was also never financial. The reward was watching this vaccine dramatically reduce the incidence of rotavirus hospitalizations in the US and now getting to watch the vaccine enter the developing world in countries like Mali, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ghana, and Nicaragua. That’s why we did it.
It hurts to watch people slander me the way they do. They just don’t know me. Or any of us that work so hard to get a technology like the rotavirus vaccine to the countries where it will save the most lives.
Reprinted with permission from David Brown and Dr. Paul Offit.