Parents claim sons poisoned by mercury in suits

By Steve Gonzalez | Jul 12, 2005

Barry Julian

Author David Kirby

Joe and Michelle Panek filed two separate seven-count suits each seeking damages in excess of $350,000 alleging their sons Nicholas and Brandon suffer from the effects of mercury poisoning after receiving infant immunizations.

According to the suits filed in Madison County Circuit Court July 11, Abbot Labs, Dow Chemical, Eli Lilly, and Sigma-Aldrich and Merck & Co. are named as defendants in the suit along with nine other pharmaceutical companies who allegedly added a mercury-laden preservative, Thimerosal, to the their products.

The Paneks are represented by Barry Julian and Richard Saville of Alton.

According to the suit, by following an immunization schedule during the first 18 months of life, infants are exposed to 237.5 micrograms of mercury from Thimerosal.

The Paneks allege that level of exposure exceeds federal exposure guidelines by 30 times the permissible limit.

In the 1980s the FDA issued a regulation requiring the removal of Thimerosal from all over-the-counter products due to safety concerns. On Dec. 14, 1998, the FDA published a notice in the federal register requesting that drug manufacturers provide data on mercury content in their products.

Thimerosal is used as a preservative to kill off bacteria and fungus.

The Paneks allege their sons were subject to very high doses of mercury contained in Thimerosal. Without adequate warnings, the Paneks also claim the defendants added the preservative so they could market and sell their products in multi-dose packages as opposed to single-dose packages--even though substitute preservatives were available.

Brandon and Nicholas suffer from the toxic neurological effects of mercury poisoning, according to the suit.

In addition to economic compensation, the Paneks request proper and adequate punitive damages as a result of the defendants’ actual willful and wanton misconduct in utter indifference to and in conscious, reckless and wanton disregard for their children’s safety.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) no harmful effects have been reported from Thimerosal at doses used in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site.

However, in July 1999, the Public Health Service (PHS) agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure.

With the exception of some influenza (flu) vaccines, none of the vaccines used in the U.S. to protect preschool children against 12 infectious diseases contain thimerosal as a preservative.

David Kirby a professional journalist for over 15 years recently published a book called Evidence of Harm, Mercury in Vaccines and the autism Epidemic, A medical controversy.

The book is a “look back” at issues related to Thimerosal and vaccines – and is primarily written from the perspective of people who believe there is an association between vaccines and autism.
According to the CDC, they are in the process of reviewing Mr. Kirby’s book in detail, but the general issues raised in the book have already been extensively examined, including by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in the past few years.

As the IOM concluded in a recent report, the vast majority of studies, which have involved hundreds of thousands of children in a number of countries, have failed to find any association between exposure to thimerosal in vaccines and autism; that is, they have failed to find any evidence of harm.

In a study published in 2003 by the Journal of Pediatrics a team of Danish doctors counted all the diagnoses of autism in the country from 1971 to 2000. They found no decrease after 1992, when Denmark became the first country in the world to ban the preservative, thimerosal.

Rather, autism diagnoses continued to skyrocket on the same trajectory that began in the late 1980's, rising from less than one case per 10,000 Danish youngsters in 1990 to more than three a decade later.

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