Posted by: Ticktock | February 8, 2009

Discredited Dr. Wakefield Further Discredited

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from friends that the reasons they are worried about vaccines are the combo shots, such as the MMR.  Why?  They don’t really know, but they heard it was too much for the immune system.

This wild speculation and fear can be traced back to one irresponsible scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his study on twelve patients.  Wakefield had England in a tizzy because his study showed that autism could be traced to problems in the gut due to the MMR vaccine.  Or could it?

Other scientists attempted to replicate Wakefield’s study, but they came up with opposite results. The Cochrane Review listed over 31 quality studies that showed no link between autism, bowel problems, and the MMR vaccine.  And yet, there are scores of parents who not only believe that the MMR vaccine is the root cause of autism, but they also believe Jenny McCarthy’s lie that a strict gluten-free (etc.) diet cured her son.

Why would Wakefield lie like that?  What could have been his motive?  Glad you asked.  On closer inspection, it seems that Wakefield may have had some conflicts of interest that likely tainted his results, like perhaps the fact that he was paid 400,000 pounds by lawyers who specifically wanted to sue the company that made the MMR vaccine.  Yeah, that’s a huge conflict of interest – ya think?

Wakefield has been laughed out of the scientific community, but his legacy lives on.  This man has been completely discredited – he was abandoned by most of the co-authors of his failed study; and yet, despite Wakefield’s fall from grace, measles rates are soaring in England.  That’s right.  Dr. Andrew Wakefield is responsible for lowering the rate of measles vaccination in Great Britain to 80%, far short of the level needed for a safe herd immunity.  How bad is it?  There are 24 times as many cases of measles this year than the 56 cases reported in 1998 when Wakefield’s paper was published.

Yeah, Dr. Wakefield’s kind of an ass, and today we find out that his already sullied reputation continues to go down the tubes.  Investigative reporters in England have been comparing the details of Wakefield’s analysis on the twelve children in his study with the info from their original hospital reports.  It seems that he fibbed a bit, fudged some facts, you know, he made shit up.

Moral of the story?  It only takes one liar, with a big mouth and bad facts, to change the world, for better, or in this case, for worse.


Responses

  1. Nice piece.

    You missed the bit about Wakefield having filed an application for a patent on a single measles vaccine before he started the research for which he was paid all that money to find a link between the MMR jab and autism. As the report of the study – which stated categorically that a link had not been found – was going to press in the Lancet, Wakefield called a press conference stating that he expected to prove the link within a few months and recommending that parents eschew the triple vaccine in favour of single vaccines instead.

    The man should be in jail.

  2. [...] Parenting contemplates the impact that a lie can have when it resonates with parents’ fears: Discredited: Dr. Wakefield Further Discredited. Wakefield has been laughed out of the scientific community, but his legacy lives on. This man has [...]

  3. This makes me so very angry.

  4. [...] For more, read Bad Astronomy, Pharyngula, Respectful Insolence, and Science-Based Parenting. [...]

  5. [...] From Science-Based Parenting, a blog by Skeptic Dad: I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from friends that the reasons they are worried about vaccines are the combo shots, such as the MMR.  Why?  They don’t really know, but they heard it was too much for the immune system. [...]

  6. For more details, see David Gorski at Science-Based Medicine and Steven Salzberg at Genomics, Evolution, and Pseudoscience.

    If you want to be depressed:

    The anti-vaccine activists (Dan Olmsted, Kim Stagliano, Kent Heckenlively, David Kirby, Mark Blaxill, Anne Dachel, J. B. Handley et al.) at Age of Autism have been valiantly on the job, defending Wakefield despite acres of facts and oceans of evidence.

    ——

    http://tinyurl.com/abwea7

    March 27, 2008

    MAJOR AUTISM GROUPS SUPPORT DR. ANDREW WAKEFIELD

    BY THE EDITORS

    The British Medical Establishment’s battle to discredit Andy Wakefield runs into its first major obstacle this week — Andy Wakefield himself. He begins testimony in his own defense in the proceeding — we think Inquisition is a much better word — to pull his medical license after he published a study raising questions (questions, mind you!) about whether the MMR shot led to a GI disorder and regressive autism. He had the temerity to suggest that while we figure it out, it might make sense to separate the measles, mumps and rubella shots. For this outrage, he’s already been driven out of England — thankfully, to the USA. We’ll bring you full coverage and news about how you can support him starting with the letter (below) from several major US autism groups. In addition, you can visit http://www.cryshame.com to learn more.

    Wakefield and Colleagues Should Be Knighted, Not Persecuted

    ———
    http://tinyurl.com/b8r6gg

    October 12, 2008

    Wakefield on Jenny, the MMR and the Fight of His Life

    Editor’s Note: England’s Sunday Express has a great article on Andy Wakefield today with quotes that ought to put the fight back into anyone whose energy is flagging right about now (hey, it happens!). He talks about Jenny McCarthy’s courage, his upcoming book and his motivation for persevering. “My sole purpose is to help these children and get to grips with the root of the problem, which is what I am doing,” he said. “Despite having discovered an apparently new disease my colleagues and I are being vilified purely because of the vaccine association. This link has threatened Government policy and drug-company profit. What we’re witnessing over the triple jab is a propaganda campaign based on who has the biggest budget. I have none while the budget of the UK Government and its allies is limitless.” Yes, but Andy has allies, too, including Age of Autism and its thousands of readers. — Dan Olmsted

    ———–

    http://tinyurl.com/9bdm45:

    December 22, 2008

    Smoke and Mirrors: Dr Richard Horton and the Wakefield Affair

    Managing Editor’s Note: The Wakefield family crest bears the latin “Arudua vinco” which translates to “I conquer difficulties.” We can’t thank Dr. Wakefield enough for his dedication to our children.

    By John Stone

    ——-

    http://tinyurl.com/8xvljy

    December 31, 2008

    Age of Autism Awards 2008 Galileo Award: Dr. Andrew Wakefield

    From the Roman to the Wakefield Inquisition

    By Mark Blaxill

    As the year draws to a close, all of us at the Age of Autism are very pleased to honor Dr. Andrew Wakefield. As we’ve reported here many times during the past year, Dr. Wakefield has been the subject of a remarkable and unprecedented campaign to discredit his work and character, most notably in a show trial that is still underway in London, in hearings of the General Medical Council. In the face of extraordinary attempts to silence him, Wakefield has stood up to these attacks with grace and determination and has continued his research and clinical work on behalf of children and families suffering from autism. That makes him our first Age of Autism Galileo Award recipient.

    ——
    http://tinyurl.com/bq586s

    February 06, 2009
    The Wakefield Affair and Meadow Syndrome at the GMC: an Open Letter to the President

    Big ben By John Stone

    The GMC hearing against Andrew Wakefield, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch has finished hearing evidence. All that remains are for panel to hear final summaries next month, and to give its final adjudication sometime in the early summer. It is apparently not possible to address representations to the panel so this letter is addressed to GMC president, Sir Graeme Catto.

    ——-
    http://tinyurl.com/azm32t

    February 08, 2009

    British Bulldog Attacks Dr. Wakefield Again

    Brit bulldog UK journalist Brian Deer continues to attack Dr. Andrew Wakefield in his latest piece.

  7. I’ve done another round-up post — who is saying what about the Deer articles on Wakefield in the London Times. I’ve included your post.

    11 years on, Wakefield Manufactured Data showing MMR-Autism Link?

  8. It turns our Brian Deer made it up:-
    Sunday Times Journalist Made Up Wakefield MMR Data Fixing Allegation:
    http://tinyurl.com/djbtzq

    And he was helping the US Justice Dept sink 4500 US kids claims for vaccine damage compensation – what kind of normal journalist does that? Ans: none.
    US Federal Court, US Justice Dept & The Sunday Times – More Questions Than Answers
    http://tinyurl.com/ac5xkt

    • I don’t see the proof yet, but I will be happy to retract my post if it turns out that you are correct.

  9. Anti-vaxers are clutching at straws trying to suggest that Brian Deer is motivated by some deep personal hatred for Andrew Wakefield, rather than just being a journalist who did a good job in exposing Wakefield for all the lies he told about his funding, about the conflict of interest, about the negative lab results he kept quiet about etc etc. The suggestion that he “made it up” is plain silly. If he didn’t have evidence, he wouldn’t have a story. Whether the evidence is sufficient to satisfy the GMC remains to be seen but, remember, Wakefield has already come (almost) clean about some of the things he lied or kept quiet about at the beginning. That he is a liar has been established beyond reasonable doubt.

    Now they’re really scraping the barrel with their allegation that Deer initiated the complaint about Wakefield to the GMC. Even if he had, it doesn’t change any of the facts that have emerged about Wakefield exposing him as a liar. But anyway, only those who are directly affected by medical negligence are entitled to complain to the GMC. The GMC have made it clear they approached Deer for whatever he had on Wakefield after Deer’s original report was published. The suggestion that, having supplied the GMC with information they asked for, he should no longer be able to report on the story, is simply a diversion.

  10. Re Maria’s comments February 20, 2009 at 12:28 pm.

    All rhetoric. Check out the links provided:-
    http://tinyurl.com/djbtzq

    Deer’s story just does not hold water that Wakefield “fixed the data”. There is no way 12 other authors for 10 years did not notice especially when they retracted the “intepretation” – barely one sentence – in the Lancet paper of a possible link to MMR. All of the rest of the paper stands and three of the authors did not retract. Two are on record as refusing to – Wakefield and neurologist Dr Peter Harvey. It was all done to place the baying wolves at the time to get them off their backs.

    And Deer is a journalist and knows the importance of substantiation but cannot substantiate his denials of his being the original complainant and of pursuing the whole thing against Wakefield. There is an Court judgement in proceedings in which he was a party that he made the complaints to the GMC and even citing his letters.

    And what was he doing also interfering with the US cases:-
    http://tinyurl.com/ac5xkt

    He should be required to disclose his financial statements for the past 10 years so he can prove he is squeaky clean on who is paying him.

    • Why does it take twelve authors to write a study about twelve kids? Do they need an author per kid?

  11. Hey, Cliffy… why are you spamming blogs claiming that Mr. Deer made it up?

    You say “And what was he doing also interfering with the US cases:-”… except, that it was the testimony from Chadwick and Bustin that showed Wakefield’s paper was fraudulent, AND the several studies that cannot replicate the study, and the lack of real evidence linking the MMR to autism during its almost 40 years of use.

  12. Thanks “Chris”. It helps make others look polite and reasonable when you try to be rude and personal. Keep it up fella – we’ll get along just fine.

    Looks like someone has not been watching the news:-
    “MMR/Autism Cases Win In US Vaccine Court”
    http://tinyurl.com/ahprxd

    “Brian Deer’s Boss Joins MMR Manufacturer Glaxo’s Board”
    http://tinyurl.com/b266r8

    Looks like Deer is a cheap way to keep the old Glaxo profits up.

    The testimony from Chadwick and Bustin was not tested – it came at the last minute courtesy of Deer who admits he gave the documents to the DoJ when that is of course contempt of court – but Deer does not mind – he has Glsxo and News International behind him.

    Check out the facts – permission has to be applied for to the English Court and the complex technical report of Bustin is dropped into the proceedings on short notice with no chance of countering it.

    Bustin’s analysis has been criticised but who will have the time to get an expert into court at that kind of notice – analyse the report, check out the data, produce a report in reply. Answer – no one. And Deer’s hatchet job meant no experts would be willing to come forward.

    And which experts do you rely on for your information – let me see – Oh, its Brian Deer the gastroenterologist, Brain Deer the neurologist, Brian Deer the histopathologist, Brian Deer the psychologist, Brian Deer the psychiatrist, Brian Deer the journalist who cannot get an expert to give an expert view so makes it up.

    And the Sunday Times let him do it. Haven’t you seen the news, James Murdoch, Deer’s overall boss of News International is a member of MMR manufacturer Glaxo’s board. That’s along with Crispin Davis whose brother took the legal aid off the British MMR kids.

    All sad for you but regrettably true.

    • I missed it. When was Chris rude and personal? Is “Cliffy” some kind of insult?

      Please go somewhere else to spread your fake antivaccine victories. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Jenny McCarthy are teaming up to announce a win in vaccine court, but it’s a calculated manipulation of facts that only serve to highlight their desperation. And your desperation. http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=1917

      I don’t know anything about Brian Deer’s boss, and I couldn’t care less. You can poison the well all day long, but it won’t change anything. I get my facts from Steven Novella, a neurologist, David Gorski, a surgical oncologist, and Paul Offit, an epidemiologist and pediatrician. You seem to get your facts from Jenny McCarthy, a former playboy model known for picking her nose, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a lawyer with a famous Dad.

      How is any of your info “sad” for me? How absurd!

  13. Hi Ticktock.

    The rude personal stuff is really great. Keep it going. You say:-

    “I missed it. When was Chris rude and personal?”

    That’s because you say things like “a former playboy model known for picking her nose, and …. a lawyer with a famous Dad.” and do not realise that is being rude and personal. Outstanding.

    The folks you get your information from are all zealotic campaigners. David Gorski writes the ORAC blog – short on fact, long on bile. Dr Paul Profit for Offit is a pharma renta-quote who makes millions of dollars from vaccine patents and Steven Novella is part of the Quackwatch crowd – you know – the folks who mix with Steven Barrett – the “failed Psychiatrist,” and a “failed MD.”. There is plenty to read about him here:-
    “What kind of man would drop out of the medical profession and dedicate his life to STOPPING advancement in the health sciences?”
    http://tinyurl.com/asuqq4

  14. So was Chris rude and personal, or not?

    In what way are Jenny McCarthy, RFK Jr, or David Kirby qualified to assess the safety and efficacy of a medical treatment? These are the folks who are rudely trying to end decades of medical progress in the name of speculation and fear, so forgive me if I’ve lost patience for them.

    I know that David Gorski writes the Orac blog because I read it: I also know that it isn’t “short on fact”. Dr. Paul Offit is a pediatrician, who happens to be an expert on vaccines. The profits from his book “False Prophets” went to autism research, not to pharma. Dr. Steven Novella runs with the science-based crowd, you mean. That’s my crowd, too.

  15. “The folks you get your information from are all zealotic campaigners.”

    My irony meter has just blown up. I’ll be billing childhealthsafety for a new one.

  16. The real issue is whether anyone can believe anything Brian Deer says after his denials of being the complainant in the UK General Medical Council proceedings

    There is a binding legal Court judgement on Brian Deer stating he is the complainant and citing the exact dates of his letters. End of.

    It is Brian Deer who needs to produce the letters if he wants to have credibility. And he has not – because they show he is the complainant – and the judge has found that as a fact on the evidence of the letters.

    No letters – nothing Brian Deer says can be believed.

    For the fake allegation of data fixing against Wakefield in Deer’s story to be true

    “meant that for 10 years, a single-handed action by Wakefield had to have gone completely unnoticed by the other 12 authors on the well-known paper.”

    “The Times also did not mention as part of the story that an investigation into Wakefield was in triggered by a complaint from Brian Deer himself, meaning that his article was a report on the hearing into his own complaint.”

    See:
    “The Malicious Smearing of a Crusading Doctor”
    http://tinyurl.com/as54wd

    and
    “Sunday Times Journalist Made Up Wakefield MMR Data Fixing Allegation”
    http://tinyurl.com/djbtzq

    And Deer still expects everyone to believe no one noticed. And this is after 10 of the authors retracted the sentence of the Lancet paper – the sentence suggesting an interpretation of a possible environmental cause of autism [ie. the MMR vaccine], to get the heat off them from the Government – and three did not retract.

    None of the rest was retracted – and they did not notice? Not likely.

    The rest of the Lancet paper still stands in The Lancet as a peer reviewed paper and has been replicated in other scientific studies.

    And look at Deer’s articles – unlike professional journalists the world over where are all the experts making the claims he is supposed to be reporting in his stories – they are not there – on Deer’s own admission the world is asked to take Brian Deer’s word for it – from Brian Deer the expert gastroenterologist, Brian Deer the expert neurologist, Brian Deer the autism expert, Brian Deer the expert psychologist, Brian Deer the expert psychiatrist, Brian Deer the expert histopathologist, Brian Deer the patent expert etc etc etc.

    All this from someone with a Batchelor of Arts in Philosophy from Warwick University and no scientific or medical qualifications.

    See:
    “Sunday Times Journalist Admits Wakefield MMR “Data Fixing” Allegation Is Unqualified Speculation”
    http://tinyurl.com/cvak4f

    I hear bells – must be the other legs of everyone in the world all being pulled all at the same time.

    Thanks again for the personal abusive and patronising post – makes the other guy look the more reasonable dontcha think. Yep.

    • Sh… you’re giving away your super secret strategy. Keep killing us with kindness and perpetuating your persecution complex. It’s working well for you.

  17. Oh for pity’s sake. What exactly is the purpose of a smear campaign that can be demolished in thirty seconds by anyone who checks it out?

    The GMC doesn’t need a complaint to be submitted before it can investigate a matter of public interest. This investigation took place after discussions between the GMC and the Minister for Health. As soon as Brian Deer was accused (by whichever member it was of the Infectious Disease Promotion League) of being the original complainant against Wakefield, he produced a letter showing quite clearly that he was approached by the GMC for information after his first article and that his role was that of informant rather than complainant. The letter is available for all to see here:

    http://briandeer.com/wakefield/deer-ffw-letter.pdf

    Now let’s have a link to this “binding legal Court judgement on Brian Deer stating he is the complainant”.

    Even if he had specifically submitted a complaint to the GMC – and who could blame him? – it makes no difference to the fact that Wakefield told a pack of lies. The whole ‘Deer as complainant’ crap is just a red herring whose purpose is to divert attention away from Wakefield’s charlatanry.

    As for his co-signatories not noticing…that’s Wakefield’s defence? Either there is a disparity between what the medical records show and what Wakefield said in his report, or there isn’t. The evidence is before the GMC; they will decide. Whether Wakefield’s co-signatories knew and kept quiet or didn’t know makes no difference to whether Deer’s allegations are true or not.

    *sigh* I can’t even say ‘nice try’ on this occasion.

  18. Poor, poor Cliffy. He thinks I am rude for calling him “Cliffy”, oh, and pointing out that he is a spammer. I’ll accept being called rude for calling him “Cliffy”, but not for pointing out he was spamming.

    Though, I find that he is pretty rude for making stuff up to smear Brian Deer (doesn’t the UK have pretty nasty libel laws that you as a lawyer should be aware of?). Cliffy, liars are rude by definition.

    And yes, he spammed his fact free stuff all over, and was called on it by others, like here:
    http://holfordwatch.info/2009/02/08/brian-deer-discusses-andrew-wakefield-in-the-sunday-times/comment-page-2/#comment-15022

  19. In case Cliffy does not want to go back to see one of the comments from that link, the website owner of Holfordwatch wrote:

    Admin edit: you seem to have spammed a number of blogs and other venues with similar comments all of which are in a recursive loop back to you as support for your assertions. You have received comprehensive answers yet continue, so it seems that there is little point engaging you.

    However, there seems little reason to accept your assertions over the findings of the Special Masters and the contents of the reports by Professors Bustin, Rima and Simmons.

    You have been told the various counters to your arguments repeatedly. However, once more, that was not solely Bustin’s opinion, the Petitioners’ Steering Committee were given plenty of opportunity plus another 2 hearings during which they might have rebutted Bustin’s report or his testimony – similarly for Rust, Rima and Simmons, yet they did not because it seems they could not.

    You probably welcome the news that the US Govt. has applied for the release of the remaining expert reports etc. from the UK Legal Aid case. Had the Petitioners been more organised, they would have joined with the Respondents years ago to get the documents released so that there wasn’t such a restricted disclosure before Cedillo.

  20. All Brian Deer need do to restore any semblance of credibility is to publish his letters of complaint. He has not done it.

    And look at Deer’s articles – unlike professional journalists the world over where are all the experts making the claims he is supposed to be reporting in his stories – they are not there – on Deer’s own admission the world is asked to take Brian Deer’s word for it – from Brian Deer the expert gastroenterologist, Brian Deer the expert neurologist, Brian Deer the autism expert, Brian Deer the expert psychologist, Brian Deer the expert psychiatrist, Brian Deer the expert histopathologist, Brian Deer the patent expert etc etc etc.

    Bunk. No Deer – no stories in the media – no persecution of Wakefield. End of.

    As for Maria February 27, 2009 at 3:07 pm, saying:-

    “What exactly is the purpose of a smear campaign that can be demolished in thirty seconds by anyone who checks it out?” ….. “The evidence is before the GMC; they will decide.”

    It has taken the GMC five years and they still have not decided it. The Lancet did in 2004. At that time the CEO of The Lancet’s owners was on Glaxo’s board. And this is what The Lancet concluded and it is pretty tame stuff:-
    “Summary
    The first three allegations of alleged research misconduct have been answered by clarifications provided by the senior authors of this work. The wording in the published paper regarding Ethical Practice Committee approval and patient referral was accurate, yet at the same time summarised obviously lengthy and complex institutional and clinical review and referral procedures. In the light of the public controversy surrounding this work and the allegations made to us, one could argue that more explanation could and should have been provided in the original paper. Although, with hindsight, this seems a reasonable criticism, all research papers published by all journals are inevitably concise accounts of often complicated research protocols. We do not judge that there was any intention to conceal information or deceive editors, reviewers, or readers about the ethical justification for this work and the nature of patient referral. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to clarify the scientific record over the matters raised by these serious allegations.

    We regret that aspects of funding for parallel and related work and the existence of ongoing litigation that had been known during clinical evaluation of the children reported in the 1998 Lancet paper were not disclosed to editors. We also regret that the overlap between children in the Lancet paper and in the Legal Aid Board funded pilot project was not revealed to us. We judge that all this information would have been material to our decision-making about the paper’s suitability, credibility, and validity for publication.

    In considering what sanctions The Lancet should apply, the COPE guidelines3 give eight options in a ranked order of severity. Given the public-health importance of MMR vaccination, together with the public interest in this issue, we have decided to pursue a course of full disclosure and transparency concerning these allegations, the authors’ responses, the institution’s judgment, and our evaluation. These statements and a Commentary will be published in The Lancet as soon as possible.

    Richard Horton

    Editor, The Lancet”

  21. Re Chris February 28, 2009 at 7:13.

    Keep it up fella. Nice to have someone helping me here.

  22. The science has been done, the link between vaccines and autism does not exist. It is a dead link… “It’s not pinin’! ‘It’s passed on! This link is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-LINK!! ” (hat-tip to Monty Python and the dead parrot sketch)

  23. Thanks Chris. I think you are trying to tell us you want to agree to differ on this one. That’s fine. There has been an airing of views and we can leave it at that.

  24. I am also noting that you are not discussing the science, but are trying to smear a journalist. This has been noted elsewhere (at Holfordwatch).

    There is no real science linking the MMR vaccine with autism.

  25. [...] studies have been discredited repeatedly, but the anti-vax crowd still hangs on to this fear. It was just reported today that a [...]


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