Washington, D.C. — TheBritish Medical Journal (BMJ) has
published an article accusing Dr. Andrew Wakefield of falsifying data linking the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to the development of autism. Wakefield co-authored the case series reported in the British journal,
The Lancet, in 1998.
According to the BMJ article, Wakefield "altered numerous facts about the patients’ medical histories in order to support his claim to have identified a new syndrome," as well as how his institution "supported him as he sought to exploit the ensuing MMR scare for financial gain." The Journal's editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee, deputy editor Jane Smith, and associate editor Harvey Marcovitch, asked if it was possible that Wakefield was wrong, but not dishonest (or so incompetent that he was unable to fairly describe the project). According to the authors, the answer in each scenario is "no."
"A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross," they wrote. The National Autism Association (NAA) defends Wakefield's work, however, maintaining that the link has been repeatedly confirmed by subsequent studies. According to
a statement released by the NAA, the article is "yet another attempt to thwart vaccine safety research." "It has been proven time and again that vaccines trigger adverse reactions in certain individuals," states NAA president Wendy Fournier. "While any adverse reaction may be an uncomfortable reality, turning a blind eye to negative outcomes—or attacking those who investigate them—causes the greater amount of harm to the hundreds of thousands of children injected with vaccines each day."
The Lancet retracted the paper in February 2010, citing findings by Britain's General Medical Council (GMC).