Dr. Andrew Wakefield has been a lightening rod for attacks by vaccine promoters ever since he published an article (Lancet, 1998) raising the possibility– though not claiming a finding of a causal link–between the onset of children’s chronic intestinal inflammation and pervasive developmental disorder following vaccination with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.Vera Hassner Sharav www.ahrp.org
He wrote, “We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immunisation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.”
During these twelve years Dr. Wakefield has been pilloried for daring to suggest that the MMR vaccine may not be safe.
During the same period, Dr. Wakefield published 32 peer-reviewed articles about children who suffered from both inflammatory bowel disease and severe developmental disorder. (See list of publications)
A complaint filed by a Times of London reporter with the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel (GMC) resulted in a two and a half year investigation, the most expensive ever conducted by the GMC.
On January 28, the GMC issued a damning verdict about the ethical conduct of the three doctors being investigated. Their finding of ethical breaches included:
- unnecessarily exposing children to invasive procedures;
- spinal taps and colonoscopies for research purposes; paying children at his son’s birthday party for blood samples, and;
- undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
However, the GMC panel did NOT pass judgment on the validity of Dr. Wakefield’s research or his findings.
Of note, none of the parents of the 12 children in the study ever complained to the GMC. Indeed, the children’s parents issued a Public Statement in support of Dr. Wakefield, Prof. Murch, and Prof. Walker-Smith: “All of the investigations were carried out without distress to our children, many of whom made great improvements on treatment so that for the first time in years they were finally pain free.”
Neither the major media, nor science journalists seem to have taken notice of the fact that DHHS epidemiologists found a similar link between the measles vaccine and neurological impairment. A 1998 published report by government scientists (Weibel RE, Caserta V, Benor DE, Evans G.) who reviewed claims submitted to the U.S. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program found:
“RESULTS: A total of 48 children, ages 10 to 49 months, met the inclusion criteria after receiving measles vaccine, alone or in combination. Eight children died, and the remainder had mental regression and retardation, chronic seizures, motor and sensory deficits, and movement disorders. The onset of neurologic signs or symptoms occurred with a nonrandom, statistically significant distribution of cases on days 8 and 9. No cases were identified after the administration of monovalent mumps or rubella vaccine.
CONCLUSIONS: This clustering suggests that a causal relationship between measles vaccine and encephalopathy may exist as a rare complication of measles immunization.”
See: Weibel RE, Caserta V, Benor DE, Evans G. Acute encephalopathy followed by permanent brain injury or death were associated with further attenuated measles vaccines: a review of claims submitted to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Pediatrics, 1998 Mar;101(3 Pt 1):383-7 (also this post).
Of note, Dr. Wakefield is not against all vaccines: he has recommended monovalent mumps, rubella and measles vaccines, administered on different dates, as a precaution until more is known. He hypothesized that the three live viruses given together in the MMR vaccine could be the source of potential problems in at least SOME children.
Following the judgment of the GMC Panel on Jan 28, 2010, the Lancet retracted Wakefield et al’s original article, stating: “it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.”
Something doesn’t add up. Pharmaceutical company litigation has revealed that many research papers, published in top journals, are characterized by research fraud and misconduct. These papers have been published by the Lancet and the other prestigious medical journals. Many were ghostwritten and crafted to promote marketing goals, but they were deceptively penned by prominent academics and passed off by medical journals – including The Lancet – as the objective, “peer-reviewed” work of academics. Few, if any, of these fraudulent articles have been retracted. A JAMA review recently estimated that 7.6% of the Lancet’s articles have ghost authors (usually pharmaceutical public relations staff or contractors).
Why, then, are the Lancet editors retracting only Dr. Wakefield’s paper now? The editors cite two reasons: the children were not “consecutively referred” and the studies weren’t approved by the local ethics committee.
AHRP is astonished that, given multiple prior investigations of this paper, it took the Lancet editors 12 years to discover a lack of proper IRB approval.
Indeed, the JAMA review, based on an anonymous survey of authors, reported that the 6 major medical journals have published a significant number of ghostwritten articles in 2008:
“The New England Journal of Medicine had an estimated 10.9 percent rate of ghostwriting, a rate of 7.9 percent in JAMA, 7.6 percent in The Lancet, 7.6 percent in PLoS Medicine, 4.9 percent in The Annals of Internal Medicine, and 2 percent in Nature Medicine. In 1996, a similar study by JAMA editors reported ghost authorship rates of 16.2 percent in The New England Journal of Medicine, 15.3 percent in The Annals of Internal Medicine, and 7.1 percent in JAMA (and this NYT report. [Unclear whether JAMA ghosts comprise 7.9% or 7.1%?]
An article in the current issue of PLos Medicine by Drs. Jeffrey Lacasse and Jonathan Leo, investigates authorship and ghostwriting policies at 50 top US academic medical centers. Only 13 of the centers have policies in place prohibiting ghostwriting. Twenty-six centers had no published policies on authorship. Two centers reported having such policies, but they were not available to the authors.
According to Leo and Lacasse, “The practice of ghostwriting explicitly violates the usual norms of academia. We are not aware of any other academic fields where it is acceptable for professors to allow themselves to be listed as authors on research papers they did not write, or to purposefully conceal the contributions of industry coauthors in order to mislead readers.
A recent New York Times article characterizes medical ghostwriting as “an academic crime akin to plagiarism.”
Why do medical journals fail to retract ghostwritten medical reports that undermine the very integrity of the journals? Isn’t faked authorship more important to root out than lack of “consecutive referral,” whatever that is supposed to mean?
I’ve been asked many times over the last few weeks to share my opinion on the verdict of the U.K’s General Medical Council (GMC) about Dr. Andrew Wakefield and the retraction of his 1998 article, “Ileal-lymphoid- nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children” by the medical journal, Lancet. The many inquiries fall into four basic questions, answered below.
Question #1: What do you know about Dr. Wakefield’s 1998 paper? Do you feel the response of the GMC was appropriate?
- Dr. Wakefield’s paper was SIMPLY a case study of 12 children. Hundreds of case reports are published each year in the medical journals… and are essentially ignored. He didn’t make *any claims* in his original paper that has gotten all the attention.
- His original paper was simply a hypothesis, not a claim, of the connection to Autism. Be sure to read the original paper; it’s only 5 pages long. 
- Wakefield published 32 peer-reviewed papers since 1998. NONE of these were mentioned or retracted. 
- Wakefield’s most recent research incriminates the use of hepatitis B vaccines in newborns. The first phase of this monkey study was published three months ago in the journal Neurotoxicology, focused on the first two weeks of life. Baby monkeys received a single vaccine for Hepatitis B, mimicking the U.S. vaccine schedule, and were compared with matched, unvaccinated monkeys. The vaccinated monkeys, unlike their unvaccinated peers, suffered the loss of many reflexes that are critical for survival. Discrediting Wakefield’s work over a perceived “ethical” issue would serve to discredit this new research, protecting the vaccine industry once again. 
- Dr. Wakefield’s research was never questioned by the GMC. The ruling focused on what was called “unethical behavior” – drawing blood at a children’s party, even though the parents who were present had given their fully informed consent. In fact, in an open letter to the Lancet, the parents of the 12 children in the study rebuke the GMC, politely calling them liars.
- Dr. Wakefield has never been “anti-vaccine.” His work has always been focused on finding an explanation for WHY so many autistic children have terrible bowel disease.
- Dr. Wakefield has always recommended single antigen vaccines. He hypothesized that the three live viruses given together in the MMR vaccine are the source of potential problems in at least SOME children.
Question #2: Do you have concerns over Dr. Wakefield’s failure to disclose financial links to a malpractice attorney and to patents he was working on to develop a single vaccine solution?
Answers: I was rather surprised at the question and my response is, no. I don’t feel one bit concerned about that particular issue. I’m not even sure the accusation is 100 percent true; it could be simply a pharma spin/ smear. There is so much impropriety among the Players in the vaccine business that any singular accusation about Dr. Wakefield’s work toward developing a single-antigen vaccine to make things safer for children TRULY amounts to “the pot calling the kettle black.”
- Dr. Paul Offit, who sat on the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) committee, the committee who approves all the vaccines given to children and adults, holds the patent for the Rotavirus vaccine, (the one that was withdrawn) AND a patent on the current Rotavirus vaccine which is known to cause pneumonia and still some cases of intussusception. It is rumored that he made millions on his vaccine patent and that big pharma bought all his books, so he could make millions more.
- Dr. Sam Katz sat for year on the ACIP committee having been the developer of the MMR vaccine (particularly the attenuated measles vaccine). He simultaneously consulted with all of the vaccine manufacturers.
- Dr. D.A. Henderson, credited with smallpox vaccine eradication, consulted simultaneously with all the vaccine manufacturers for year.
- Dr. Julie Gerberding, after serving eight years as head of the CDC, was recently named President of Merck vaccines. This is one of the most visible and blatant examples of a gross conflict of interest. Just barely past the 365 day mandatory “wait time” imposed on persons who pass from public service into private sector jobs, she was welcomed with open arms. Does anyone think she just might have insider information to share with her new boss, and not just about vaccines?
Question #3: Do you think the Lancet was justified in pulling the paper for pure scientific reasons?
Answer: It was inappropriate for the Lancet to retract his 1998 paper. What did it prove? By focusing on this paper with such fanfare, the general public has been lead to believe that Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet paper, a case report, was the ONLY paper and the ONLY research Wakefield has ever done. They sure paint it that way, don’t they?
- NOT ONE mainstream reporter mentioned the 32 research papers published in peer-reviewed journals since 1998.
- NOT ONE mainstream reporter interviewed Wakefield for “balanced reporting.” What does that say about the story…and the bought-and- owned, generally lazy press?
- AND NOT ONE mainstream reporter dared to report that Wakefield’s observation, finding vaccine-strain measles in the gut of *some* autistic children, has been replicated by other researchers.  
- NO ONE has been told about the science that has been published supporting a connection between vaccines and autism and other disorders, and yet the list grows every day. Researchers studying vaccine-related illness have a hard task; their research is not funded by drug companies. The drug companies and the government don’t want to know the answers.
It is the same reason the CDC refuses do a study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated kids, examining something solidly objective like number of drugs they are on, number of days of school missed due to illness and number of doctor visits between birth and 5 years of age for ear infections and asthma.
This “issue” with Dr. Wakefield is a pharma-driven, media-manipulated power move, meant to embarrass Wakefield so they can negate and call into question his new, incriminating research on the hepatitis B vaccine given at birth. No doubt this “media frenzied heyday” has been orchestrated to squash the efforts of the massively growing, Vaccine Choice/Vaccine Awareness movement. The one-sided accusations in magazines and blogs rambling on about the story even call the retraction, “a blow to the anti-vaccine movement.”
Here’s a common example: Just look at the title. This was published in Popular Mechanics (a vaccine story in Popular Mechanics?) 
At the end of the day, isn’t that the point of all this rhetoric?
The truth about vaccine damage is gaining too much attention. The masses are listening and questioning because they are (rightfully) suspicious of government and they don’t trust CDC, AAP, etc. Vaccination rates are falling, parents are rebelling. They know that something is amiss as they watch their children get sick, and even die, right before their eyes.
Question #4: Are you simply a blinded, “Dr. Andy Groupie”?
Answer: No, I am not. I clearly understand the reason why this has happened. Could he have done things better? Probably. Could he have been more forthcoming about certain events that he has been accused of? Of course.
But consider other scandals that have emerged in the scientific world, such as research that was published using fake stem-cell lines. These studies used fabricated data and were published in prestigious journals. Has anyone heard Hwang Woo-Suk or Jan Hendrik Schön? Those were the researchers; they were not publicly crucified by the media.
I suspect that if any researcher’s methods, associations and data were scrutinized with a fine tooth comb like they have done for 12 YEARS with Dr. Wakefield, the Lancet would be forced to retract many articles — maybe all of them. Looking at the Big Picture, one *has to see* that the issue with Dr. Andrew Wakefield is a witch hunt with an agenda. When the twisted associations of those who have been out to crucify Dr. Wakefield are mapped out, it is plain that he had not a chance of exoneration. 
The Results of the Vaccine-Illness Connection
We have exchanged chicken pox for autism, flu for asthma, ear infections for diabetes…and the list goes on and on. In the zeal to eliminate relatively benign microbes, we have traded temporary illnesses for pervasive, life-long diseases, disorders, dysfunctions and disabilities. And all of the Powers That Be – doctors, politicians, corporate heads, and government public health officials – refuse to consider these expensive, pervasive diseases could be caused by vaccines.
If we had an epidemic of blindness in 300,000 children, would doctors ignore it and say, “We have no idea why it is happening. Guess we need to train more seeing-eye dogs.” But we have an epidemic of sick children losing their brains. Doctors shrug and say, “It must be genetics.” This is the best they have to offer, despite scientific confirmation that there is no such thing as a “genetic epidemic.”
There are nearly 300,000 sets of parents with sick, autistic children; the lion share of them saw it happen, with their own eyes, and rightfully blame vaccines. These children are ill; and conventional doctors don’t even try to address their illnesses. When non-conventional practitioners try to help, they are scoffed, ridiculed and even raided by the Feds. 
There is one unifying factor affecting children, from sea to shining sea. It’s not genetics; genetics between families are different. It’s not environmental exposures; some kids live in the projects, some live in gated communities. It’s not food; some kids eat only organic, some eat mostly McDonalds. It’s not exercise; some kids are athletes; others are couch potatoes.
What touches almost all children and is the most likely ‘smoking gun’ for the epidemic of chronic illness and autism across North America (and beyond), are childhood vaccinations.
What is it going to take?
At the end of the day, it is going to take a tragedy in a high profile doctor or politician for the VACCINE-ILLNESS CONNECTION (not just autism) to get serious examination. I have a friend in Maine who is a nephrologist. She consults on patients who need dialysis. Just by asking the question, “When was your last vaccine?” she has found nine patients – most with previously normal kidney function – who developed acute renal failure within two to 28 days of the shot. All but one needed kidney dialysis. All but two have recovered, but to the tune of more than $200,000 in hospital bills — EACH. We pay and pay and pay for vaccines.
We pay drug companies to make them. We pay doctors and public health officials to give them. We pay astronomical health insurance rates to cover the health care costs of the illnesses they cause. Vaccines drive the industry — if only we were *willing* to look. WHAT other connections are we missing because we don’t want to know?
How conventional medicine can deny this is the real travesty. The Vaccine Court (Federal Court of Claims) has awarded at least nine judgments in favor of children who have become autistic or have had serious damage from MMR vaccine. For heaven’s sake, aspirin, antibiotics, and many other drugs can be (and often are) deadly. Why are vaccines always considered to be harmless and their side effects a coincidence?
Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician who was among the first to perceive that birth-related deaths due to puerperal fever was caused by doctors who didn’t wash their hands before childbirth. He dared collect and publish data which admonished his peers and indicted the existing Medical System. Despite various publications that demonstrated hand washing reduced birth mortality below one percent, Semmelweis’ practice was ignored by doctors because his observations were in “conflict with established medical opinions.” Thousands of children died as a result of the arrogance of doctors and their unwillingness to change.
The tenacity of Semmelweis is a precedent for how Dr. Wakefield has been treated by the GMC in the United Kingdom. Conventionally trained doctors around the world have added thunderous applause, seemingly incapable of questioning the lies they have been forced to swallow and have believed for two centuries about vaccines.
The GMC, the press and the medical establishment have had their Inquisition. But those of us who know the truth are not giving up. Like Semmelweis, our research and evidence will eventually be proven correct. We must continue; the lives – and brains – of the next generation of children are at stake.
- Dr. Wakefield’s original Lancet paper.
- Additional Wakefield publications.
- Dr. Wakefield’s new research on the Hepatitis B vaccine
- Japanese study: Detection and Sequencing of Measles Virus from Peripheral Mononuclear Cells from Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Autism.
- NJ Medical School: Dysregulated Innate Immune . Responses in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Their Relationship to Gastrointestinal Symptoms and Dietary Intervention.
- Anti-Vaccination Groups Dealt Blow as Lancet Study is Retracted ,” By Adam Hadhazy.
- “The Witch Hunt of Dr. Andy Wakefield ,” by Ginger Taylor.
- Autism clinic raided by federal authorities , by Mary Ann Roser. July 15, 2009.