10,000 Physicians to Ask for Resignation of CDC Director

By The Physicians Consortium

23 July 2001

At a press conference scheduled for Tuesday, July 24, in Washington DC, a coalition of physician members of Congress and medical groups representing 10,000 doctors will ask for the resignation of Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Physicians Consortium is part of this coalition.

This action by an unprecedented number of physicians, according to coalition spokesperson Hal Wallis, an OB/GYN from Texas, comes as a result of a benchmark study on condom effectiveness, released last Friday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The study, based on a review of all pertinent clinical research on condom effectiveness, reported that condoms only protect against the spread of HIV/AIDS and gonorrhea among men. For all other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), condoms provide no clinically documented defense against infection.

"While we are grateful for any reduction in HIV/AIDS cases due to condoms, the issues here are how long the CDC has had this knowledge and how it is handling the knowledge now that the study has been released," Wallis said. According to Wallis, the CDC is failing on both counts.

The physicians claim that the CDC has known for years about the lack of clinical proof for condom effectiveness, but has not released this information to the public. "This has all of the earmarks of a good old-fashioned medical cover-up," said Dr. John R. Diggs, Jr., a Physicians Consortium spokesman from Massachusetts.

The coalition includes Congressman Dave Weldon, MD, former Congressman Tom Coburn, MD, the Physicians Consortium, and the Catholic Medical Association.

In a statement to be released on Tuesday, the coalition will claim that, "This campaign of misinformation has contributed to the STD epidemic in America and the suffering and even death of many of our patients."

In a letter sent to President Bush today, the Physicians Consortium asked for the resignation of CDC Director, Dr. Jeffrey Koplan. The Consortium told Bush that, "Only with fresh and bold leadership at the CDC, dedicated to primary prevention as opposed to social ideology, can we as a country start moving toward genuine sexual health." The same appeal for Koplan's resignation will be made by the broader group of doctors at Tuesday's news conference.

While the coalition is deeply concerned about the withholding of vital information from the public, it is shocked by the CDC's response to the release of the study.

"Even now the CDC is using an unproven, theoretical model and laboratory tests to claim condom effectiveness," Wallis said. "The CDC just refuses to acknowledge the loud voice of clinical, empirical and epidemiological research. It is looking for every possible excuse to avoid admitting that its 'safe-sex' public health policy has failed," Wallis added.

To Dr. Alieta Eck from New Jersey, a planned speaker at the press conference, the issue runs far deeper than her medical practice. "When I think about how the CDC has been and is now dealing with medical facts, my first concern is for my sons and daughters," Eck said. "It is a very sad day when, as a mother, I cannot trust the federal government and its most reputable health agency to provide them with the facts they need in order to make the best decisions."

CONTACT: Michelle Powers, +1-703-684-8352, or cell: +1-703-447-0505, for The Physicians Consortium