Issues of Dr. Classen's Crediblity:

Following is a review of some of Dr. Classen's claims made online, on his website, and in print..  An initial listing of some of the more blatantly problematic areas is listed below. 


ClassenClaim #1. 
Classen makes the claim: "The incidence of IDDM in the US, Allegheny county registry (Dokheel, 1993), dropped 50% during the pertussis vaccine scare, 1975-1979, and rose again following the scare" (4)
EXAMINATION:
An examination of the Dokheel reference shows no such conclusion.  Dokheel instead notes that : "Ecological analyses indicated an association between chicken pox infection and IDDM" (5)

An examination of the full-text Dokheel reference reveals that:
a.  Dokheel never even mentions pertussis vaccine!
b.  Dokheel documents an age-adjusted incidence for IDDM in Allegheny
      county of 11.5 for 1965-1969, 14.1 for 1970-1974, 13.1 for1975-1979,
      and 13.9 for 1980-1984. (Table 2, p. 1608)
c.   Dokheel further states: "No association was seen between the measles,
      mumps, and rubella time series and the IDDM time series.   During this
      period of time, a precipitous decline in measles and mumps occurred
      that was attributable to vaccination and had no strong relationship
      to IDDM.
      This implies that vaccinations for these infectious did not produce a rise in
      the number of cases.  However, there appears to be a relationship
      between reported cases of chicken pox and the changing pattern
      of IDDM in Allegheny County." (p.1609) (emph added)

Classen's claims are not supported by the very reference he cites!

ClassenClaim #2
Classen attempts to prove that the presence of aluminum adjuvant in pertussis vaccines is a cause of IDDM and states: 
    "Additional work with aluminum (Ramiya, Lan, Wasserfallet al.1997)
     shows that antigens absorbed with alum have an greater affect on
     diabetes in NOD mice than plain antigens." (4)
EXAMINATION:
Examination of the Ramiya reference showed the following:
   "
We have previously shown that immunization with insulin, insulin B
    chain and B chain epitope (p9-23), but not insulin A chain, in
    incomplete Freund's adjuvant (IFA) and in alum (with B chain)
    delayed/prevented diabetes onset in NOD mice."  (6)(emp added)
    And further:
    "We also provide further evidence that B chain, upon increased
    adsorption to alum, could improve on its protective capacity in
    NOD mice. " (6) (emp added)

The evidence is clear:  Dr. Classen has attempted an unconscionable misrepresentation of the Ramiya reference.  Ramiya unequivocally found that the presence of aluminum in NOD mice had a PROTECTIVE effect against the onset of IDDM, the exact opposite of the inference Classen attempted to make!

ClassenClaim #3
Dr. Classen attempts to attribute the rise in IDDM in Finland to Hib vaccine:
    " The widespread use of the Hemophilus influenza vaccine in 1986 was
    followed by a 62% rise (16 cases/100,000 children to
    29.2 cases/100,000) in the incidence of diabetes in the 0-4 age
    group between the years 1980-1982 and 1990-1992
    (Tuomilehto, Virtala, Karvonenet al.1995;
    Classen,DC & Classen, 1997). " (7)
EXAMINATION:
Again an examination of the pertinent Tuomilehto reference reveals something quite different:
    "The overall incidence of IDDM between 1987 and 1992 was 36 per
    100,000/year. During 1965-1992 the increase was almost linear. The
     regression-based change in incidence was 2.8% per year."   
    And also: "During the last decades the increase in incidence has been
    almost linear with occasional peaks." (8) (emp added)

Tuomilehto is quite clear:  there have been NO sudden increases in the incidence of IDDM that corresponds with the introduction of Hib vaccines.   Instead the increases in the IDDM incidence have been nearly linear over several decades.

ClassenClaim #4
Classen makes the assertion:
    
"The incidence of IDDM also rose 33% in the UK starting in 1994
     (Gardner, Bingley, Sawtellet al.1997) following the introduction of the
     HiB vaccine in the UK in October, 1992 (Brewster, 1993)." (7)
EXAMINATION
The Gardner reference examined
     ". . .all patients with insulin dependent diabetes diagnosed before
      age 15 years between 1985 and 1996." (NOT starting in 1994!)(9)
The results:
     "Overall incidence of diabetes in children aged 0-15 was 18.6
      cases/100000/year and showed an annual increase of
      4% from 1985 to 1996.  This was mainly due to a rapid increase
      in children aged 0-4 years, in whom there was an annual increase
      of 11%.."(9)

Comment: Gardner notes ". . . the incidence of insulin dependent diabetes in children aged under 5 has been increaseing for the past 30 years".   Gardner establishes that this increase has also been linear, and the increased incidence was occurring long before the introduction of the Hib vaccine.  In fact Fig 1 p. 715 details a -drop- in case incidence from 24 in 1992 to 15/100,000 in 1994 in the 5-9 age group. 
The introduction of the Hib vaccine produced no increase above the linear line already established.  Gardner specifically notes that early infection with rubella and Coxsackie virus during gestation and early exposure to cow's milk products are risk factors for IDDM.
Classen appears to have misunderstood the Gardner reference.

Clasen False Claim #5
Dr. Classen makes the assertion:
     "The Center for Disease Control, CDC, published data which
     supports a link between timing of immunization and the development
     of diabetes(Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety Vol 6 Suppl. 2,
     S60; 1998). The data from the CDC's preliminary study supports
     published data that immunization starting after 2 months is associated
     with an increased risk of diabetes." (10)

A detailed search of the CDC site failed to produce the above reference.  What the CDC does say very explicity is this:

Q. Is there an association between hepatitis B vaccine and serious side effects?

A. Serious side effects reported after receiving hepatitis B vaccine are very uncommon (Andre,1989; CDC, 1991 a; Greenberg, 1993; Niu, 1996). While reported, there is no confirmed scientific evidence that hepatitis B vaccine causes chronic illness, including multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, or autoimmune disorders. There is no risk of HBV infection from the vaccine. (emp added)

Large-scale hepatitis B immunization programs in Taiwan, Alaska, and New Zealand have observed no association between vaccination and the occurrence of serious adverse events.

Furthermore, surveillance of adverse events in the United States after hepatitis B vaccination have not shown a clear association between hepatitis B vaccine and the occurrence of serious adverse events including Guillain-Barre' syndrome, transverse myelitis, optic neuritis, and seizures (Shaw, 1988; CDC, 1991 a; Niu, 1996; Niu 1998 CDC, unpublished data).

Classen Claim #6
Classen asserts:

"Rises in the incidence of IDDM have occurred following massive immunization programs with live viral vaccines including measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. One example is a rise in IDDM in children under 10 years old in 1983 in Finland (Tuomilehto, Virtala, Karvonenet al.1995) following an MMR vaccination program of these children starting in November of 1982 (Hyoty, Hiltunen, Reunanenet al.1993)." (12)

EXAMINATION:
The Tuomilehto reference is the same one Classen used earlier (above) to 'prove' that Hib vaccine was the cause of the rise in IDDM in Finnish children.  Classen can't have it both ways! 
Again, the Tuomilehto tracks the incidence of IDDM in Finland from 1965 to 1992, and the annual incidence was nearly linear with no sudden increase corresponding to any MMR immunization programs.(8)

Hyoty, et al., examined the plateau in the rising incidence of type 1 diabetes after introduction of the mumps-measles-rubella vaccine in Finland.  Their conclusions are again, quite clear:

"A nationwide mumps-measles-rubella vaccination was introduced in
1982 in Finland to children aged 1.5 to 6 years and since then mumps
has virtually disappeared in the country. We investigated whether this
rapid epidemiological change had any impact on antibody activity against
mumps virus in Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetic children or on the
incidence of Type 1 diabetes in Finland...
The results suggest that the elimination of natural mumps by mumps-measles-rubella vaccination may have decreased the risk for Type 1 diabetes in Finland; a possible causal relationship is substantiated by the observed concomitant decrease in mumps antibody levels in diabetic children."
". . . so far the eradication of mumps by MMR vaccination has not caused major changes in the epidemiology of Type 1 diabetes in children in Finland. (13) (emp added)

Comment: Hyoto makes clear - the elimination of natural mumps by use of the MMR vaccine
                   may have decreased the risk for Type 1 diabetes. 

Classen Claim #7
Classen claimed in 1996 to be affiliated with the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
This is a remarkable claim considering that J. B. Classen did not have a license to practice medicine until 1997! (14)
Phone calls,   in 1996 and again in 1999, to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center Physician Referral Service revealed that John B. Classen is not, and has never been, associated with them! 
NOTE:  There is a John N. Classen, a specialist in vascular surgery, on staff at GBMC.  Could it be that John B. Classen is attempting to plagiarize the  reputation of another doctor with a similar name?

REFERENCES: (These are clickable web links)

4.   Classen website claim
5.   Dokheel reference
6.   Ramiya reference
7.   Classen website claim
8.   Tuomilehto reference
9.   Gardner reference
10. Classen website claim
12. Classen website claim
13. Hyoty reference
14. Per phone calls to the Maryland Board of Physician Quality Assurance.

 

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