Autism-vaccine study was 'fraud' says journal (Update)

Jan 05, 2011

A 1998 study that linked childhood autism to a vaccine was branded an "elaborate fraud" by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Thursday, but its lead author said he was the victim of a smear campaign by drug manufacturers.

In an interview late Wednesday with CNN, Andrew Wakefield denied inventing data and blasted a reporter who apparently uncovered the falsifications as a "hit man" doing the bidding of a powerful pharmaceutical industry.

"It's a ruthless pragmatic attempt to crush any investigation into valid vaccine safety concerns," Wakefield said.

He insisted the "truth" was in his book about the scandal: "The book is not a lie, the study is not a lie...I did not make up the diagnoses of autism."


Follow up: Autism study doctor says victim of smears
Blamed for a disastrous boycott of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in Britain, the study was retracted by The Lancet last year and Wakefield was disgraced on the grounds of conflict of financial interest and unethical treatment of some children involved in the research.

Wakefield, then a consultant in experimental gastro-enterology at London's Royal Free Hospital, and his team suggested they had found a "new syndrome" of autism and bowel disease among 12 children.

They linked it to the MMR vaccine, which they said had been administered to eight of the youngsters shortly before the symptoms emerged.

But other scientists swiftly cautioned the study was only among a tiny group, without a comparative "control" sample, and the dating of when symptoms surfaced was based on parental recall, which is notoriously unreliable.

Experts said the study's results have never been replicated.

When asked why 10 of his co-authors retracted the interpretations of the study, Wakefield said: " I'm afraid the pressure has been put on them to do so."

"People get very, very frightened. You're dealing with some very powerful interests here."

The BMJ charged that hundreds of thousands of children in Britain are now unshielded against these three diseases. In 2008, measles was declared endemic, or present in the wider population much like chicken pox, in England and Wales.

None of the 12 cases, as reported in the study, tallied fully with the children's official medical records, the journal said.

Some diagnoses had been misrepresented and dates faked in order to draw a convenient link with the MMR jab, it said.

Of nine children described by Wakefield as having "regressive autism," only one clearly had this condition and three were not even diagnosed with autism at all, it said.

The findings had been skewed in advance, as the patients had been recruited via campaigners opposed to the MMR vaccine, the journal added.

And, said the BMJ, Wakefield had been confidentially paid hundreds of thousands of pounds (dollars, euros) through a law firm under plans to launch "class action" litigation against the vaccine.

Wakefield, who still retains a vocal band of supporters, reportedly left Britain to work in the United States.

Wakefield has previously accused Britain's General Medical Council (GMC) of seeking to "discredit and silence" him and shield the British government from responsibility in what he calls a "scandal."

The Lancet told AFP it would not comment on the BMJ accusations.

Autism is the term for an array of conditions ranging from poor social interaction to repetitive behaviours and entrenched silence. The condition is rare, predominantly affecting boys, although its causes are fiercely debated.

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User comments : 17

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lexington
3 / 5 (6) Jan 05, 2011
Is this really news?
Nik_2213
5 / 5 (9) Jan 05, 2011
Given the number of children left vulnerable by his ghastly hoax, I would suggest some dozen charges of conspiracy and attempted murder...

But, sadly, *nothing* will now persuade his 'True Believers, not even when their unprotected children succumb to M, M and/or R...
Elha
1.1 / 5 (21) Jan 05, 2011
Considering the ingredients, the risk of causing damage by vaccination seems rather obvious to me.
Thus far I have yet to see solid scientific evidence proving that, e.g. mercury or thimerosal and other dubious vaccine content, might do any living creature whatsoever any good.
Vaccination is not equivalent to immunization.
Elha
1 / 5 (18) Jan 05, 2011
Vaccines Did Not Save Us – 2 Centuries of Official Statistics
childhealthsafety[dot]wordpress[dot]com/graphs/
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (6) Jan 05, 2011
Poor Jenny McCarthy. She spent all that time being an anti vaccine advocate and now she'll finally look silly. (Sarcasm)
thermodynamics
4.8 / 5 (19) Jan 05, 2011
Elha: I have no idea who you are, where you live, or what your educational background is, but your dangerous, unscientific, and ignorant claims put you in the same category of the others who continue to put children at risk. I can see you are ignorant of statistics or you would see through the poorly represented graphs you show as "evidence." I have traveled extensively in developing countries where health workers have to contend with "witchcraft" and "magical interventions" that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands every year. You need to actually study the germ theory of disease and read a statistics book before you propose killing more children by pushing discredited fraudulent methods put forward by hucksters making hundreds of thousands of dollars from quackery. You should be ashamed of yourself for endangering others by your blatant ignorance.
Elha
1 / 5 (16) Jan 06, 2011
thermodynamics:
Previously I wrote that, I have yet to see solid scientific evidence which may justify vaccination.
I found none within your comment.

Shino
5 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2011
Elha: Bonhoeffer J, Heininger U (2007). "Adverse events following immunization: perception and evidence". Curr Opin Infect Dis 20 (3): 237–46.
AkiBola
1 / 5 (7) Jan 06, 2011
There is not enough information here to determine if Big Drug corporations are trashing this individual or it is shoddy and possibly fraudulent research. I don't see a smoking gun like we had with perp Phil "hide the decline" Jones of Climategate.
thales
5 / 5 (12) Jan 06, 2011
Elha - you want the truth? YOU WANT THE TRUTH? Here you go.

cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/6mishome.htm
ormondotvos
5 / 5 (3) Jan 06, 2011
Humans make themselves sick, their children sick, and their government sick. Science is at its BEST when it applies statistic and analysis to epidemic disease.

Having autism might be as bad as measles, mumps and rubella, but a hell of a lot of kids are going to be sick with those three because of this scare. That's pretty much solid fact. The incidence of autism isn't fact. It's really as easy as one thousand is bigger than one, by a lot. Only a terrified nitwit would skip MMR, but we seem to be building a lot of them these days.
dirk_bruere
1 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2011
And quietly reported elsewhere is the fact that autism is linked with giving young children paracetamol (acetaminophen) for fever (but not aspirin or ibuprofen). Add that to the fact that the MMR vaccine causes fever in a significant percentage of children.
Shootist
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 08, 2011
thermodynamics:
Previously I wrote that, I have yet to see solid scientific evidence which may justify vaccination.
I found none within your comment.



When was the last time you met someone with TB, Smallpox or Polio?

Tell me. Was it Unicorn Farts and Moon Beams that have (nearly) wiped these horrors from the planet? Or was it vaccines?
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2011
Shootist:

First for clarification I want to be clear that your comment shou directed at Elha who says: "thermodynamics:
Previously I wrote that, I have yet to see solid scientific evidence which may justify vaccination.
I found none within your comment"

Now that we are in agreement that I am not the one who was playing with "musical farts or other malware. " I will relate some of interaction:

You asked: "When was the last time you met someone with TB, Smallpox or Polio? I will go into that with the continuation of the effort in the continuation.

Continued:
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2011
Continued again(I tried this once before and it went away).

I will try to capture what I said before.

First, I don't know when you were born, but Polio was terrifying to us. I was at a camp where a boy came down with polio and we all had to have gama-globulin (6 shots, once a day, alternating the side of the butt). The boy contracted polio and could not walk without crutches. Children in my school went from difficulty walking to iron-lungs. Every school was like that. The gama-globulin was marginally effective.

As for TB we took recent government offered transportation to locations in Indonesia (by order of the state department). We got a notification from the State Department that we would have regular health tests while we were there "at no additional cost." None of the US bus riders caught the TB but the driver died.

Now, I am not sure why you are asking about our recent interaction with these diseases - but if you were trying to say they are not here - you are wrong
ebjh
not rated yet Jan 10, 2011
Out of interest where is the data showing an increase in autism between say 1900-2000 as I don't recall this being a problem before the introduction of both the MMR and paracetamol. Has anyone done genetic testing to see if the children have weaknesses to these or something else we've introduced since the second world war. I've heard comments from parents about their kids having changes to their life after the MMR was introduced. Also why can't we go back to the old three jabs? To me there is a lot more to this story than just the vaccinations.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2011
Out of interest where is the data showing an increase in autism between say 1900-2000 as I don't recall this being a problem before the introduction of both the MMR and paracetamol.
Can you find us a diagnosis of autism from before the 1900's?

Autism is not well understood and the potential causative link is refuted by comparison between countries that immunize and countries that don't having a similar percentage of incidences of autism.