Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Misconceptions about the new combination vaccine

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 19 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:411

Rapid Response:

Thimerosal - a case of non-disclosure in The Lancet

Helen Bedford and David Elliman continue to reassure us of the safety
of thimerosal/thiomersal. Remarkably the first (western) clinical study
into the safety of thimerosal was published in the Lancet only two years
ago: Pichichero et al 'Mercury concentrations and metabolism in infants
receiving thiomersal: a descriptive study' [1]. No disclosure of competing
interests were made. In an earlier article for American Family Physician
Professor Pichichero made the following declaration:

"The author has received research grants and/or honoraria from the
following pharmaceutical companies:Abbott Laboratories, Inc.;Bristol Myers
Squibb Company; Eli Lilly and Company; Merck&Co.; Pasteur Merieux
Connaught; Pfizer Labs; Roche Laboratories; Roussel-Uclaf; Schering
Corperation; Smith Kline Beecham Pharmaceuticals; Upjohn Company; Wyeth-
Lederle." [2]

Eli Lilly and Company are, of course, the manufaturers of thimerosal
and several of the other companies use it in their products. It would
surely greatly have effected the credibility of this study if this had
been known when the article was published, and the fact that it was not
made known effects it even further.

[1] 2002, 360: 1737-41.

[2] Pichichero M E, 'Acute otitis media Part I. Improving diagnostic
accuracy, American Family Physician April 1, 2000: 61: 2051-6.

Competing interests:
Parent of an autistic child

Competing interests: No competing interests

20 August 2004
John Stone
London N22