Wilbur H. Chen must be removed immediately from the Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP) because of blatant financial conflicts of interest

In 2020, Dr. Chen accepted $437,250 from vaccine makers with business before this key federal regulatory body

Wilbur H. Chen, M.D. is a professor of Medicine at the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. He is also a member of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — a key federal regulatory committee that reviews vaccine safety. And, it turns out, Dr. Chen accepts large sums of money from two vaccine makers whose products are subject to regulatory review by ACIP. This is a clear financial conflict of interest that must be addressed immediately by removing Dr. Chen from ACIP. 

A search of the government website Open Payments reveals that Dr. Chen accepted $437,250.70 from Emergent BioSolutions and GlaxoSmithKline in 2020.

GlaxoSmithKline is one of the four largest vaccine makers in the world. GSK makes the incredibly toxic Hep B vaccine (Engerix-B), the troubled HPV vaccine (Cervarix), a meningococcal vaccine that is loaded with aluminum (Bexsero), and various flu vaccines amongst others. GSK is also working on a COVID-19 vaccine that is now in Phase 3 clinical trials. All of GSK’s products must go before the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, that Dr. Chen sits on, in order to be approved.

Emergent BioSolutions is a contract manufacturer that makes vaccines for others including the J&J COVID-19 vaccine that has been linked with blood clots and a bleeding disorder. Emergent BioSolutions has an abysmal safety record. Even though federal regulators are generally like Mr. Magoo when it comes to spotting safety problems, the issues at Emergent’s plant in Baltimore were so egregious that earlier this year the FDA shut down the plant and ordered J&J to take it over and run it themselves. The FDA also ordered that 75 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured at that plant be destroyed because of contamination. All of the vaccines manufactured at the Emergent BioSolutions plant must first be approved by the ACIP where Dr. Chen is a member.

This is completely unacceptable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 27,550 pediatricians employed in the United States, so there were plenty of other people to choose from. There is absolutely no reason for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to utilize a person with such extensive financial conflicts of interest.

The CDC must be above reproach in order to have any credibility with the general public. Sadly the CDC appears to do whatever it can get away with — a classic example of the fox guarding the henhouse. The fact that these decisions involve the health of our children makes the corruption all the more appalling.

Please contact the following four officials (as well your elected representatives) to let them know that you are troubled by Dr. Wilbur H. Chen’s extensive financial conflicts of interest and please ask that he be removed from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices before it meets on Tuesday Nov. 2.

Rochelle Walensky
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Roybal Building 21, Rm 12000
1600 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30333
phone: (404) 639-7000
Aux7@cdc.gov

Xavier Becerra
Secretary, Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
c/o Sean McCluskie
sean.mccluskie@hhs.gov

Captain Amanda Cohn
Chief Medical Officer
National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30333 MS C-09
phone: (404) 639-6039
fax: (404) 315-4679
acohn@cdc.gov
anc0@cdc.gov

Grace Lee, M.D.
Chair, ACIP

Center for Academic Medicine
Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Mail Code: 5660
453 Quarry Road
Stanford, CA 94304
United States of America
phone: (650) 497-0618
phone: (650) 498-6227
fax: (650) 725-8040
gmlee@stanford.edu

It is beyond alarming that the Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices has failed to properly monitor financial conflicts of interest amongst its members. All prior ACIP votes involving Dr. Chen should be reviewed by an independent outside review board to see if they must be thrown out because of this blatant corruption. The CDC should also examine and release publicly all financial conflict of interest statements from all remaining ACIP members to determine if there are additional problems before Tuesday.

In the comment below please let me know how you are going in contacting these officials and if you get any (non-automatic) replies. 🙌


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