Shortly after the birth of their baby, Justin Kanew and his wife watched the film Vaxxed. He wrote:
We learned about CDC head Julie Gerberding going to work for Merck as head of immunizations after helping to cover up the MMR-autism link, and cashing out for millions.
First of all, as has been shown numerous times by numerous authors, there is no MMR-autism link. This is a figment of Andrew Wakefield's imagination, aided and abetted by Brian Hooker's inept analysis of a CDC data set.
As to Julie Gerberding MD, MPH: She served as the director of the CDC from 2002 to 2009. Now here's the deal. The position of CDC Director is appointed by the President of the United States; the Director serves at the President's pleasure. Gerberding was appointed by George W. Bush in 2002. Obama wanted his own team. I am sure that beginning with Obama's election, Gerberding knew that she would be replaced.
What were her next career choices? In 2009, she was 54. Back to medicine? Unlikely. Academia? Possible, but why not go into the pharmaceutical industry, where her combination of medical knowledge and institutional leadership would be highly valued, not just in terms of salary but in the ability to lead a company?
So Gerberding was appointed to head Merck's vaccine division in late 2009. Four years later, she was promoted to a new position, executive vice president for strategic communications. Part of Gerberding's compensation is stock options. On May 8, 2015, Gerberding sold 38,368 shares of Merck stock at a reported $2,340,000; the same day, she exercised options to purchase an additional 46,208 shares for a cost of $1,618,000.
Was any of this improper? No.
And while we are thinking about compensation, we might consider Andrew Wakefield.
UK physician Michael Fitzpatrick reported on Wakefield's take in the 1990s from the Legal Aid Board in a January 12, 2007 article, The anti-MMR gravy train derailed:
To any observer not familiar with the world of law, what is striking is the sheer scale of the payments received by the witnesses in this case, which contrasts sharply with standard incomes in the medical and scientific world. To enable a rough comparison, in the UK in the 1990s, the basic income of a mid-career researcher at a university or medical school would have been around £50,000 to £60,000 a year; ...
Dr Wakefield received a total of more than £400,000 for his contribution to the case (equivalent to several times his annual income in the 1990s). He claims that he charged at the rates recommended by the British Medical Association for such work (between £47 and £100 per hour) (8). If he worked full time at this rate, his receipts would cover between two and four years exclusively devoted to the case. (Indeed, he indicates that his final award from the LSC was £100,000 less than he claimed.) Yet he was employed by the Royal Free up to December 2001, when he was reported to have taken up a post at Dr Jeff Bradstreet’s treatment centre in Florida (he has since moved on to another private clinic in Texas). According to Dr Wakefield, he donated the income he received from the litigation to support the foundation of a research unit dedicated to bowel problems in autistic children, first (unsuccessfully) at the Royal Free and later in the USA. According to Deer, the accounts of these organisations reveal that he was a recipient of funds from them rather than a donor.
In 2009, Matt Carey examined the 2008 tax returns from Wakefield's employer, Thoughtful House. Wakefield's compensation was $270,000.
Next up: the facts on the United States's National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.