October 29, 2006

BizzyBlog Vic Wulsin Dealbreaker 1 — Serious Breach of Medical Ethics

This sentence in the Enquirer’s endorsement yesterday of incumbent Jean Schmidt for Second District Congressperson demands a response, and forces me to roll out a BizzyBlog Dealbreaker on Vic Wulsin earlier than I had planned:

It is a very, very close call, but we endorse Schmidt for re-election over Wulsin, an esteemed expert in public health and epidemiology who has done noble work in the fight against AIDS.

The Enquirer’s editorial board was out, of, its, mind on this one. Its endorsement, despite Jean Schmidt’s shortcomings, should have been anything but a “very close call” — hence the need to roll out BizzyBlog Dealbreaker 1.

The noble work Wulsin appears to have done against AIDS is largely negated by her ignoble association with, and failures (despite her denials and attempts at after-the-fact housecleaning) to adequately distance herself from Henry Heimlich’s malariotherapy experimentation.

This post could turn into a book — and for the Dean of Cincinnati, a left-of-center blogger who has nevertheless done heroic work at The Cincinnati Beacon investigating this matter while the rest of the local Democratic establishment has had blinders on, it almost has. I will link to much of his work after the body of this post.

The quick version of the support for BizzyBlog Wulsin Dealbreaker 1 is expressed in this bulletin from The National Council on Health Care Fraud (HT Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, who has additional comments; paragraph breaks added by me for readability; also be sure to read the the material added at 5 PM that follows the WTF excerpt):

Congressional candidate tied to improper human experiments. Victoria Wells Wulson, M.D., who is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, has been linked to unethical human experiments in which live malaria parasites were injected into humans as a treatment for HIV infections. The experiments were conducted in Africa by Henry Heimlich, M.D. (popularizer of the “Heimlich Maneuver” for treating choking). In 2004, Heimlich engaged Wulsin to review his work on “malariotherapy” and write a business plan for promoting it.

Wulsin concluded that “the preponderance of evidence indicates that neither malaria nor Immunotherapy will cure HIV/AIDS” and that the Heimlich Institute had been too secretive about its work. Despite claims by Heimlich that that no active work on malariotherapy was being done, Wulsin’s report shows that it was.

When it became clear that the report would be made public by others, she released it but added an executive summary in which she claimed that her involvement with the Heimlich Institute was “strictly limited” to a research review. However, the original report indicates that she had access to experimental data, knew that something was radically wrong, and was aware of ethical violations that she should have reported to appropriate governmental authorities.

The report also indicates that an “American sponsor” was collaborating with Heimlich, but Wulsin has refused to reveal the sponsor’s name.


5PM UPDATE: Dean encouraged me to look through his material for a succinct statemnt of Wulsin’s ethical lapses, and here it is, from a Cincinnati Beacon post containing Dr. Robert Baratz’s comments:

As previously reported on these pages, in the mid 1990s Heimlich was told in no uncertain terms that his ideas about “Malariotherapy” were unsupported by science by various government health officials, scientists and others. Instead of collecting data in animal and similar experiments to prove his speculations, Heimlich continued to work clandestinely on humans.

….. Heimlich has contended that his work was endorsed and approved by Institutional Review Boards for Human Experimentation (IRB’s). No quite so. The IRB which allegedly approved Heimlich’s work was told to suspend operations in 2000 and shut down a year later. Heimlich’s work was singled out as non-conforming to rules and regulations. Claims were later made that the work was “foreign” (done in China) and not subject to US FDA scrutiny. Initial denials were made of involvement of US institutions, or work on US soil. Not so again.

….. Enter Victoria Wells Wulsin, MD, epidemiologist, and present congressional candidate, who began work in the second half of 2004 for the Heimlich Institute. As reported here Dr. Wulsin was courted as a potential successor to Dr. Heimlich for the leadership of the Heimlich Institute. She was apparently paid tens of thousands of dollars as a consultant to write a report on “Malariotherapy” for the “board” of the Institute. Mind you this was after all of the reports and correspondence on “Malariotherapy” with the CDC, FDA, and others. This was after all of the press on this subject in the LA Times, NY Times, UCLA Bruin, and other newspapers, including the Cincinnati Enquirer.

….. Space and focus does not permit a full analysis of the flaws of the Wulsin report. What I see is an uncritical naive review, leaving out much of the science on this subject, especially the science that shows that co-infection with HIV and Malaria can make things significantly worse.

….. What I found most peculiar and troubling about Dr. Wulsin’s report for the Heimlich Institute was her apparent endorsement of what they were doing, continuing the “Malariotherapy” experiments.

Dr. Wulsin now seeks the office of congresswoman, representing the citizens of Ohio. While we all can make small errors of judgment and may disagree from time to time, Wulsin’s activities at the Heimlich Institute go beyond simple mistakes. She knew exactly what she was doing, worked for a period of months, had access to records and resources, and was paid for it. How she was paid should be the subject of further investigation. In my opinion, her failure to stop the “Malariotherapy” by exposing it is reprehensible. If she claims she didn’t know then she is inept.

I don’t know how much more damning you can get and still be civil.


(resume original post)

To me, the nature of the experiments (“malaria parasite injections” to, in theory, fight cancer, Lyme disease, and HIV/AIDS) invokes memories of the horrid Tuskegee Syphillis Study experiments decades ago. Informed consent was not given by Tuskegee study participants/victims. It is clear from this review at Citizens for Responsible Care and Research (CICARE) that informed consent was not given by participants in at least some of Heimlich’s work.

Quackwatch further notes that “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other governmental bodies have disclaimed this bizarre and scientifically unsupportable method.”

Wulsin, in her report, on Page 16, appears to have specifically disagreed (although she is making a general statement of principles, she would have stopped her report at that point (PDF) and said “it’s not possible to do this and be ethical” if she thought remaining ethical would be impossible):

Studies of Immunotherapy are ethically justifiable as long as three conditions are met.

  1. Patients must be informed of – and understand – the relative costs and benefits to Immunotherapy and its alternatives.
  2. Research protocols must be approved by local (operating) and donor (managing) institutional review boards. These authorizations should be readily available for examination by any critics, patients, potential collaborators, or others.
  3. Research protocols should be designed prior to operations. “Fishing expeditions” for possible benefits are no longer warranted. Specific outcomes should be investigated. Any deviations from research protocols must be accounted for.

Folks, the CDC and others rightly believe that this kind of human experimentation needs to be relegated to the House of Horrors — not given at least tacit sanction, as it was, by an MD who at some point may have been on the take.

As a congressperson in a technically advanced age, Vic Wulsin will be in a position to not only vote on legislation authorizing “advances” in medical science that are questionably ethical, but she will be able to throw the persuasive weight of her medical credentials behind any effort to do so.

(Now, pay attention closely here, because deciding that Vic Wulsin’s ethical breaches constitute a Dealbreaker has NOTHING to do with whether you, dear reader, are prolife, but they have EVERYTHING to do with whether Vic Wulsin is prolife.)

All of this aside, Vic Wulsin could have a failsafe position in all of this if she were unequivocally prolife. Her past dalliance with Dr. Heimlich could be excused as a big, but not fatal, mistake, as she had no hands-on involvement in experiments. She could in theory, say she’s sorry and promise to sin no more. But Vic Wulsin is anything but prolife, and is in fact pro-abort, pro-embryonic stem cell research, and perhaps even pro-cloning (she refused to answer a Cincinnati Right to Life questionnaire which could have cleared up these matters). This means that there is no reason — none — to believe that she would be willing to put the moral brakes on allowing taxpayer dollars to be used for “promising” but unethical medical studies and protocols that might be stampeded though Congress in the name of “the greater good,” or to make such studies a law-enforcement matter if they were attempted in the private sector.

Based on all of the above, Vic Wulsin has earned BizzyBlog Dealbreaker 1: Serious Lapses in Medical Ethics.

(Recall that a BizzyBlog Dealbreaker is “something that completely justifies a person not voting for you, regardless of your party or your stands on the issues.”)

Therefore, discussion of “the issues” in the 2nd District is OVER.

2nd District voters are left with choosing either the remaining candidate on the ballot, one of the two write-in candidates, or abstaining.


Source Material:

  • Oct. 20 — (Cincinnati Beacon, guest column by Dr. Robert Baratz) Black Box Warning: Wulsin’s Claims of Innocence
  • Various Dates — (Cincinnati Beacon) Wiki entry for Victoria Wulsin
  • PDF of Wulsin’s report with Executive Summary


UPDATE, Oct. 30: A search on “malariotherapy” at OH-02 reveals just two entries (here and here) from seven months ago. I would suggest that what has been learned since that time, and what appears to have been Wulsin’s evasive approach, would have received some coverage “at the front lines of democracy” by now.


1 Comment

  1. [...] And BizzyBlog today: [...]

    Pingback by NixGuy.com » Wulsin Dealbreakers. — October 29, 2006 @ 8:33 pm

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