Monday, January 10, 2011

Vaccine Scare Doctor Exposed as Fraud

Andrew Wakefield, the shamed doctor behind the discredited vaccine scares, is at last being shown to be a complete fraud. His paper claiming a link between MMR vaccines and autism was already retracted for sloppy methods and undisclosed conflict of interest; his license to practice medicine was already revoked for ethical breaches; his results, which examined exactly 12 children, have not only never been replicated, but have been disconfirmed repeatedly. At last, though, new investigations have shown that his study apparently actually faked data:

A new examination found, by comparing the reported diagnoses in the paper to hospital records, that Wakefield and colleagues altered facts about patients in their study.
The analysis, by British journalist Brian Deer, found that despite the claim in Wakefield's paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children's parents.

Deer previously found motives as well: two years before the study, Wakefield was hired to discredit MMR vaccines by a lawyer who hoped to create a class action lawsuit against drug companies. Wakefield was paid an undisclosed $750,000 over time to do so. In addition, Wakefield filed a patent for his own version of a vaccine many months before his study, through which he stood to gain if the other MMR vaccines were attacked. (A brief summary with details can be found here.)

Infants have died because of this man. Measles is on the rise and children are sick because he took advantage of the worst fears of parents to get rich. He should rot in prison.


Liz Ditz said...

I'm keeping a list of positive responses to the BMJ (Yes Wakefield is a fraud, and here are the implications...) and negative responses (Wakefield's research IS TOO valid and vaccines cause autism anyway) at A roundup of responses to the BJM & Wakefield's research was motivated by fraud.

I've added your post.

Some observations
1. The positive responses come from a broad range of sites -- politically left and right; people who are skeptics/ people who have heretofore (to my knowledge) never commented on vaccines or autism before, and so on. The negative responses are from a predictable set of sites and people.
2. The news coverage in the US has (perhaps inadvertently) perpetrated the idea that all parents of children with autism believe in the vaccine causation myth. It is a complete falsehood. Many parents of children with autism and adults with autism robustly reject the myth.
3. Kev Leitch, whose daughter has intense autism, has a moving post on how Wakefield's actions have damaged everyone affected by autism

JewishGadfly said...

Hi Liz,

Thanks for the comment. Interesting stuff--I liked the post by Leitch.