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January 26, 2012 - 6:05pm

Doctor who reportedly diagnosed 'conversion disorder' received substantial payments from pharma companies

posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Two pharmaceutical companies that make HPV vaccine have hired Dr. Laszlo Mechtler in the past as a speaker, paying him more than $150,000 in fees in 2009 through 2011, according to a ProPublica database.

Mechtler is the neurologist who reportedly diagnosed 11 teenage girls in Le Roy who have been displaying tics and verbal outbursts with "conversion disorder."

State public health officials relied, at least in part, on Mechtler's diagnosis to rule out vaccines for the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus as a cause.

The HPV vaccines are known as Gardasil and Cervarix, manufactured by Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline.

While tics and verbal outbursts are not listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website as a possible side effect of either drug, the drugs have been known to cause serious health issues. According to WebMD, the vaccines have been tied to rare cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, neurological disoder that causes weakness.

Several observers of the Le Roy situation have suggested HPV vaccine as a possible cause, but at a public meeting in Le Roy Jan. 11, Dr. Gregory Young said HPV had been ruled out as a cause.

In a search of Google for "tics gardasil cervarix," pretty much all the results tie the outbreak in Le Roy to the drugs, but actual evidence of the drugs being tied to such an outcome is hard to find.

Mechtler was later interviewed by NBC and identified himself as the doctor who examined 11 of the girls and diagnosed them with conversion disorder, even going so far in another interview to blame 9/11 terror alerts for causing stress in the girls.

According to Propublica -- a nonprofit investigative journalism organization -- Mechtler received the following payments from Glaxo and Merck:

  • $62,400 in speaking fees in 2009 from Merck
  • $75,200 in speaking fees in 2010 from Glaxo
  • $19,819 for research from Glaxo in 2010
  • Another $10,000 from Glaxo in 2011
Doug Yeomans
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Aspirin has been known to cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome...just sayin. This all sounds like a witch hunt to me.

Rachael Scott
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This article should be re-titled "The dangers of ignorant online reporting"..

mark dickes
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the drug companies cover things up all the time its all about profits!!!! Also there have been questions about the hpv vaccine from day one!

Doug Yeomans
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Where's your proof or are you just repeating what you've heard on late night radio?

Howard B. Owens
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Rachael, based on what? What factual error can you point to? Or should we just consider your comment an ignorant online comment?

Intelligent people don't just make broad brush statements. They offer facts and evidence to back their assertions.

And why the the qualifier of "online reporting." Why not just "reporting." Reporting is reporting whether it appears online, over the airwaves or in print.

Jessica Richardson
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Creditable business men don't generally call criticizers unintelligent or ignorant.

Doug Yeomans
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It seems as though the masses love to be told what they want to hear. I've found that presenting something factual or asking for facts to back up a statement made by someone else are often met with hostility and ignorant retorts. I often hear dueling banjos in the background.

matt riggi
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So where are your facts supporting the "drama queen" diagnosis?

Doug Yeomans
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I rest my case. When people can't tell the difference between opinions and facts, it's futile to try and argue any points otherwise.

matt riggi
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I see. So when Howard presented the facts of the case last week, your "drama queen " comment shouldn't be considered "hostile" or "ignorant" because you're opinion is better than everyone else's?

Gerald Robinson
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Here's a link to a story about Erin Brockovich investigating. If the link doesn't come through i googled "gizmodo.com" and it was one of the first stories.

http://gizmodo.com/5879750/erin-brockovich-cyanide-industry-solvent-may-...

matt riggi
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Interesting article on Erin Brockovich. I'm surprised nobody has commented on the 9/11 theory. I understand one possibility may be stress, but blaming it on terrorists?...seems a little far fetched to me! Ever since these girls went national with their story, there have been a ton of theories. Most are probably BS, but I think their plan worked. Hopefully someone can get to the bottom of this and help these kids.

Howard B. Owens
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Jessica, re-read my comment and point out the EXACT words where I called any person "ignorant."

Kyle Couchman
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Hey Matt, lets no blur the line between forum comments and reported news stories. I know that Howard pisses alot of you off because he can differntiate between his "job" of reporting, and his "commentary" on the forum. They are two different things and should be treated as such.

As for Jessica's comment I'm sure ALL of us have worked for credible business men in the past. I know I have heard every single one of them call someone with a differing viewpoint the term unintelligent, uninformed, or ignorant. Want to know why, because the fact is there ARE alot of unintelligent, ignorant people in the world (as well as Batavia) and guess what, when you throw emotional or dramatic circumstances in the mix alot of intelligent, non ignorant people can drift over to making unintelligent and ingnorant comments. Fact of life Jessica and you using it as an argument isn't really valid.

As for this subject I am on the fence, I see Howard and Doug's points, but there has been alot of things that dont seem to set well. My argument is why after we had been told diagnosis had been made most of the parents were still in the dark. After all the HIPPA talk about privacy why did this supposed Dr. Mechtler go on TV and suddenly out the diagnosis, which seem to me the time when most of the concerned parents found out what the doctors thought they had. I also saw that no environmental studies were done like the school said there was. Which someone said they had proof of. Then the school counters that they weren't comprehensive, which means what? Just alot of BS seems to be going back and forth and the reluctance of officials in dealing with victims just raises just a few red flags and eyebrows.

So I will wait, watch and see, it wouldnt be the first time our Govt and it agencies have lied, covered up facts and generally tried to brush a serious event under the rug hoping it would go away.

matt riggi
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kyle- what in particular are you referring to?

Kyle Couchman
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Read your comments and figure it out Matt

Howard B. Owens
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Regarding HIPPA, Dr. Mechtler, in my opinion, has not violated HIPPA because he did not talk about any of his specific patients, just in general terms about a group of patients. And HIPPA isn't really what prevented Dr. Young from discussing the diagnosis. He just choose not to and hid behind HIPPA as an excuse not to discuss the diagnosis.

Howard B. Owens
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Kyle, I'm confused as to you reference to Matt myself.

Also, Matt, read the comments on the previous article that mentioned 9/11 ... a few criticisms of Mechtler's quote in those comments.

matt riggi
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I know what I wrote, and if I had it figured out I wouldn't have asked you to explain...I don't see it, Kyle. Where have I implied that Howard has pissed me off, and where have I confused reporting with forum posts?

matt riggi
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Ah, didn't see those, Howard. Thanks.

Kyle Couchman
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Ok maybe my pain meds are befuddling me. I percieved Matt blurring the line in this comment....

"I see. So when Howard presented the facts of the case last week, your "drama queen " comment shouldn't be considered "hostile" or "ignorant" because you're opinion is better than everyone else's?"

He used Howards name, but seemed to be adressing Doug without naming him. Jessica's comment about crrdible business men seemed to be directed at Howard so Matt's use of hostile and ignorant seemed to be blurring the line where we are talking bout the story facts vs the opinions made by readers.

On the HIPPA thing Howard, either one or the other is right, however since your story stated that the official hiding behind HIPPA during the meeting in Leroy said he hates when officials hide behind beaureaucratic rules to be evasive then he feels forced to do it made the impression that disclosure wasn't an option. Then also is the fact that they cant tell a group directly effected by the events here but they can go on national tv and disclose it also seems fishy as well.

Howard B. Owens
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Kyle, I've found officials in my career hide behind HIPPA a lot when HIPPA wouldn't prevent disclosure of the information I'm seeking.

I've also found government bureaucrats who misuse the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) the same way, requiring FOIL requests for documents that should be public without question and then sticking to the letter of the law to delay release of information.

The point is, the way these two actions are related is that there are officials around who will look for any excuse to delay or avoid releasing information.

Judith Kinsley ...
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I understood that Matt was addressing Doug. Probably due to the fact I remember very clearly the "drama queen" comment. Could we maybe discuss the original article and the inference that the good doctor had a conflict of interest when diagnosing these girls due to the fact he accepted thousands of dollars to defend a vaccine that could have possibly been the cause of their issue to begin with. Not to say it was which is really the core problem here. There is no evidence of anything and other than this ethically- challenged doctors opinion, the entire issue has been murky. Not enough tests of any kind have been done. Out of concern for these kids and my own daughter who attends the school, that is not acceptable. Had this issue not received the national recognition that it has, due to the willingness of the girls to publicize, we would still not have made any progress towards the truth.

Kyle Couchman
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LOL gotta love all the acronym foxholes that the Govt makes for itself.

But as I pointed out this whole thing is fishy......either that or I'm jonesing for April 1st and everything seems fishy til then LOL

matt riggi
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well said, Judith!

mark dickes
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lol!

Doug Yeomans
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Matt, I don't even know how to respond other than to say that I think you're confused. I don't know when I ever disputed anything that Howard said. I'm pretty sure you're misunderstanding some things I said. I know what I said and what I meant. If you want what I said to mean something else, so be it

I said it sounded like a case of mass hysteria right from the beginning and then more than one doctor (not just the doctor in question) actually gave a diagnosis of conversion disorder. When I said it sounded like a case of mass hysteria, it was just me stating my opinion, nothing more. Somehow from me saying that, I was asked where I got my medical degree.

Mark Dickes made the comment: "the drug companies cover things up all the time its all about profits!!!! Also there have been questions about the hpv vaccine from day one!"

I asked him for proof and you had a cow about that. So, which way do you want it?

Bea McManis
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Doug, I think the offensive statement was calling the students 'drama queens'.
You discounted that they are suffering and didn't conjure up this event at a pajama party.

matt riggi
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Doug, I never claimed you disputed anything with Howard. "As soon as the attention queens tire of the drama, the symptoms will vanish." -Doug Yeomans...."Watch a video of kids who really have Tourette syndrome and tell me those girls aren't just acting silly." -Doug Yeomans. Mark Dickes gave his opinion on drug companies and you asked for proof. Well, you gave your opinion on the "attention queens" so where's your proof? You then stated.. "I've found that presenting something factual or asking for facts to back up a statement made by someone else are often met with hostility and ignorant retorts." Kind of ironic, don't you think? Howard posts reports about these girls, and you don't find your comments ignorant or hostile? I mean, I laid it out very simple. What don't you understand? I watched the girl on the today show and I didn't find anything "silly" about her condition. For you to come on here and make comments like that, about a kid, shows the level of immaturity and lack of compassion you possess. I thought it was rude and disrespectful to these girls and their families, so I chimed in with my opinion, one I don't expect you to agree with. Just giving my two cents...

Doug Yeomans
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Okay, fair enough. Calling them attention queens was callous and immature. I don't think that one comment makes me have a lack of compassion, though.

I don't disagree with your opinion at all. Saying that they were acting silly wasn't meant to be disrespectful. I understand how it could be taken that way, though. The diagnosis WAS conversion disorder, after all. (proof) Calling them names like "drama queens" was out of line and for that I apologize.

Time will tell how this whole "tic" thing plays out.

Beth Kinsley
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One comment? Did you forget the other comment that you edited where you called them fucking nuts? Maybe you should apologize for that one too. Just because you had sense enough to edit it doesn't mean that you didn't write it in the first place.

Doug Yeomans
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Okay, now that you've exposed me as the worst person in Batavia, are you satisfied now, Beth?

Yes, I did have sense enough to edit it. Is that terrible of me? What else do you have? LAY IT ON ME!

Judith Kinsley ...
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I really don't think you need her help to expose what type of person you are Doug. Your words say it all. I am curious as to what would motivate a grown man to attack these poor girls. Enlighten me.

Howard B. Owens
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Geez, Doug apologized. Is it really necessary to keep beating him over the head with it? How is that a good thing?

Future comments berating Doug should only come from people who have never ever said something they later regretted.

matt riggi
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As I said Doug, just my opinion. Obviously nothing personal. I don't know any of these girls who are effected. I know when news of this first broke, their were a lot of skeptical opinions being thrown around town. I believe everyone here, no matter what your opinion is, knows that the most important thing is for these girls to get better.

Judith Kinsley ...
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Had it been the one comment and an apology that would have been lovely. It wasn't. The Fucking Nuts comment came after. And to once again minimize the issue with the aspirin comment:

"Aspirin has been known to cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome...just sayin. This all sounds like a witch hunt to me."

shows a total lack of compassion for what these girls are going through. And they have taken it from all sides already. And no Howard, I have never and would never continue a course of action that was specifically taken to bash another person. For an illness or otherwise. High school bully stuff that I don't tolerate. If you allow it, fine. Your site. But I'm not going to be quiet about it.

Kyle Couchman
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Judith you need to step back as well. Everyone has a right to voice an opinion. No matter how much you disagree with it. And I can certainly see and sympathize with Doug's takes on the situation with how officials seemed to treat this situation. Also noting that Doug's comments came before the Today show appearances.

I guess its ok to continue to bash Doug after an apology is made isnt it Judith even though you state...

"I have never and would never continue a course of action that was specifically taken to bash another person. For an illness or otherwise."

Maybe you should live those words, otherwise it seems you are holding on to a double standard of conduct Judith.

Kyle Couchman
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By the way Doug I think you mixed your references. There is no link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and asprin. What I think you were thinking of was Reye's Syndrome and asprin.... Just sayin ;)

Doug Yeomans
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DOH! You're right.

Judith Kinsley ...
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Hardly bashing him Kyle. Most definitely stating the differences between us. Works for me!

Phil Ricci
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Well if that's the case Howard, then I'd like to say....damn. I guess I should have said she didn't look fat....but I was only five after all!

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