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Another Wakefield paper retracted

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on June 3, 2010

Yet another Andrew Wakefield paper has been retracted. After the Lancet retracted his 1998 paper that started the unreasonable MMR scare, the results of which we’re still dealing with, and after being struck from the the UK medical register, now the American Journal of Gastroenterology has retracted a 2000 Wakefield paper based on the same 12 children that the 1998 study was based on. Here is the text of the AJG retraction:

Retraction: Enterocolitis in Children With Developmental Disorders

A J Wakefield, A Anthony, S H Murch, M Thomson, S M Montgomery, S Davies, J J O’Leary, M Berelowitz and J A Walker-Smith

Am J Gastroenterol 2000; 95:2285–2295

On 28 January 2010, the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practice Panel raised concerns about a paper published in the Lancet by Dr Wakefield et al. (1). The main issues were that the patient sample collected was likely to be biased and that the statement in the paper, that the study had local ethics committee approval, was false. There was also the possibility of a serious conflict of interest in the interpretation of the data. The Lancet has now retracted this paper (1). This paper in the American Journal of Gastroenterology (AJG) (2) also includes the 12 patients in the original Lancet article and therefore we retract this AJG paper from the public record.

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MMR doctor struck from register

Posted in News by Skepdude on May 24, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT BBC NEWS

The doctor who first suggested a link between MMR vaccinations and autism is to be struck off the medical register.

Dr Andrew Wakefield

Dr Wakefield still stands by his research

The General Medical Council found Dr Andrew Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct over the way he carried out his controversial research.

It follows a GMC ruling earlier this year that he had acted unethically.

Dr Wakefield, who is now based in the US, has consistently claimed the allegations are unfair. He now says he will appeal against the verdict.

His 1998 Lancet study caused vaccination rates to plummet, resulting in a rise in measles – but the findings were later discredited.

The GMC ruled in January Dr Wakefield had acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in conducting his research, but under its procedures the sanctions are made at a later date.

The case did not investigate whether Dr Wakefield’s findings were right or wrong, instead it focused on the methods of research.

During the two-and-a-half-year case, the longest in GMC history, he was accused of carrying out invasive tests on vulnerable children which were against their best interests.

The GMC also said Dr Wakefield, who was working at London’s Royal Free Hospital as a gastroenterologist at the time, did not have the ethical approval or relevant qualifications for such tests.

And the panel hearing the case took exception with the way he gathered blood samples. Dr Wakefield paid children £5 for the samples at his son’s birthday party.

It also said Dr Wakefield should have disclosed the fact that he had been paid to advise solicitors acting for parents who believed their children had been harmed by the MMR.

Serious misconduct

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT BBC NEWS

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Wakefield intends to fight back

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 21, 2010

Although I’m not sure this is the fight he should be getting into!  He claims that the GNC’s conclusions that he acted carelessly were “predetermined” and plans to conduct research to vindicate himself.  Which is all good in my book. We can never really know the determination status of the GNC’s conclusions, and if he does prove scientifically that there is merit to his 1998 Lance retracted paper, than all the better. The point here is not blind adherence to one hypothesis or another, but finding out the truth. So, I say, good luck Andrew Wakefield.

I must say thought that, personally, I tend to be suspicious of someone with such grandiose views of himself. He is, some may say quite expectedly, portraying himself as someone who was sacrificed because he dared to take on the “vaccine industry”.

Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who came to Austin after fueling a worldwide scare over vaccines and autism, said Wednesday that he expects to have his British medical license yanked next week in a final effort by the mainstream medical establishment to silence him and stop his research.

In his first in-depth interview since the council’s findings, Wakefield — hailed as a hero by some parents and a false prophet by many doctors — said the charges were unfair, false and pre-determined from the outset because he dared to take on the vaccine industry. He said he does not intend to fade away.

He’s got a book coming out soon.

Wakefield’s new book, “Callous Disregard,” will be out Monday, the same day the General Medical Council is scheduled to decide whether to invalidate his license. The book gives Wakefield’s side of the story and lays out what he thinks was behind his prosecution: an effort by the vaccine industry to stop him from probing into vaccines that could be causing harm.

Frankly, I’d rather see him write a book where he defends the science behind his 1998 study, but that’s his call; he can write whatever he wants, but he only diminishes his reputation even further if he refuses to talk science and instead chooses to engage in conspiracy theory stories.

Wakefield contends that he learned from a whistle-blower that Britain had told the medical schools to stop investigating unsafe vaccines and any potential link to autism for fear the government might be sued. The government, in turn, manipulated the media and furthered his prosecution, Wakefield said. The bias, he said, continues with the media giving credence to studies that dispute links between vaccines and autism and discrediting any that suggest an association.

Well I hope he has some proof to back those claims up besides an undisclosed “whistle-blower”. My only question would be this: even if Britain is engaging in this sort of behavior, what about the rest of the world? Where are all these studies that he hints about that suggest a link between vaccines and autism? Why not write a book about these studies I ask instead of getting into this whole conspiracy issue?

Autism, vaccines and fear

Posted in News by Skepdude on February 4, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE GLOBE AND MAIL

In 1998, The Lancet, a leading British medical journal, published a research study that triggered one of the biggest health scares of modern times. It claimed that autism was linked to children’s vaccines. The evidence was sketchy – it was based on only 12 cases – but Andrew Wakefield, its lead author, became an instant media celebrity.

Over the next few years, Dr. Wakefield was depicted as a courageous maverick who dared to defy the medical establishment. People’s trust in public health – already tested by the mad-cow scare – collapsed and vaccination rates plunged. Before The Lancet article, the vaccination rate for MMR – the three-in-one shot for measles, mumps and rubella – had reached 91 per cent. A few years later, the rate had slipped to less than 50 per cent in some parts of London, and was far too low to prevent serious outbreaks. In 2008, measles was again declared endemic in the U.K.

The vaccination hysteria proved contagious. In Canada and the U.S., anti-vaccination groups warned about the dangers of thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines (although never used in the MMR one). Parent groups blamed vaccines and environmental toxins for what they said was an autism epidemic. They launched multimillion-dollar lawsuits (all unsuccessful) against vaccine makers, whose product costs, because of legal bills, went up.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. accused the U.S. government and top scientists of a vast conspiracy to cover up the link between vaccines and autism, and celebrity autism mom Jenny McCarthy argued the case on Oprah .

It’s hard to blame parents of autistic kids for grasping at causes and cures. The causes are poorly understood, and the chance of cure is exceedingly remote. Life with an autistic child is unrelentingly hard. Untested treatments, and claims of cure, run rampant. The field is prone to “pseudoscience and quackery,” says Michael Fitzgerald, a British autism expert and long-time critic of Dr. Wakefield.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Wakefield creamed by MSNBC

Posted in News by Skepdude on February 3, 2010

In the continuing epic fall from grace Dr. Andrew Wakefield got creamed, this time by MSNBC.

A dozen years ago, a British physician named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a paper in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet that did immeasurable harm to children.

At a press conference shortly after the paper came out, Wakefield urged parents not to give their children the combination vaccine.The British press went crazy over the report. The word and the fear quickly spread around the world.

The language was probably not strong enough. The Wakefield paper killed children and left others deaf and disabled from preventable diseases as their parents, in an effort to avoid autism, left them unvaccinated.

And Wakefield himself, supported by a fanatical anti-vaccine lobby that to this day cannot let go of the vaccine-autism connection, continued to spread fear of vaccines right up to the time of his disciplinary hearing.

Wakefield is no martyr. He is a scientist who would not give up on his theory no matter how much evidence accumulated that vaccines are not linked to autism. And that makes him guilty of letting his zealotry blind him to the harm avoiding effective vaccines did to many vulnerable children.

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Breaking News: Australian antivax group to shut down

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 3, 2010

The great news keep on coming! First the bomb dowsing magic stick was discredited, then Andrew Wakefield first got torn to pieces by the GMC and then the Lancet retracted his 1998 paper that sparked the MMR-causes-autism scare, thus dealing a deadly blow to the anti-vaccine movement. And today we get news that Meryl Dorey the head of the grossly misnamed Australian Vaccination Network is resigning and unless huge amounts of donations come in the AVN itself will close its doors by the end of February. Woot!

After almost 17 years of running the AVN, it is my bittersweet duty to inform you that within the next 3-4 weeks I will tendering my resignation as President of this great organisation and moving on to the next stage of my own personal development as mother, wife, activist and researcher.

Alternatively, if a benefactor or series of benefactors come forward to establish a fund that would guarantee the AVN’s existence for at least the next 2-3 years, or if donations were to be come in during the next week that would give us the same financial sustainability, then I would be willing to continue in my role for the foreseeable future.

If nobody comes forward to take on the role of President or if the funds are not provided to allow us to continue however, the AVN will be ceasing operations on or about the 28th of February.

Yeah, they’re asking for all their supporters to give up 1% of their incomes to support the AVN. I hope that does not happen. The AVN, while it may be guided by a desire to do good, is seriously misguided and what it does is hurt the very same children it aims to protect. Unfortunately bad deeds can be done out of the best of intentions, so while I don’t doubt that the motivations of most of these folks are to do good, that doesn’t make them any less dead wrong! So yes I am happy to hear this news, and can’t wait to see what Thursday and Friday will bring us. Chalk another one up to reason!

The only bad news is that Dory hasn’t seen the light, metaphorically speaking. The decision to resign and possibly shut down the AVN was a purely financial one; it appears she intends to keep up her fight for the right to spread misinformation as a “researcher” and writer, which roughly can be translated in “there’s a book coming out soon enough”, am I right? It would have been better if she’d actually understood that she is wrong and had decided to accept reality, especially in the wake of the Wakefield scandal, but that does not appear to be the case, but I’m keeping hope alive. You just never know!

Wakefield Saga continues-Lancet completely retracts 1998 paper

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 2, 2010

The Wakefield castle is starting to crumble. Today, the Lancet, the journal that originally published the 1998 study that started the unjustified MMR vaccine scare, has completely retracted the paper, which is the journal’s way of saying “pretend it never happened” or conversely “can we start from scratch”?

Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al1 are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation.2 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.

Breaking News: Andrew Wakefield in deep sh#$

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on January 28, 2010

UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) has concluded that Andrew Wakefield has “failed in his duties as a responsible consultant” England’s Sky News reports.

Dr Andrew Wakefield showed a “callous disregard” for children’s suffering and abused his position of trust, the GMC’s disciplinary panel found.

His conduct brought the medical profession “into disrepute” after he took blood samples from youngsters at his son’s birthday party in return for payments of £5.

He also acted dishonestly and was misleading and irresponsible in the way he described research later published in The Lancet medical journal, the panel of experts ruled at a hearing in London.

Wow, those are strong words, callous disregard, abuse, disrepute, dishonestly, misleading, irresponsible! How many adjectives like these are left unused? But this surprises us in the skeptical movement not a single bit; we’ve been pointing out the problem with Dr. Wakefield’s research for a while, though probably not in such strong terms as the GMC just did.

But that’s not the end of it. Dr. Wakefield may lose his license apparently.

Dr Wakefield now faces being struck off the medical register after the panel decided the allegations against him could amount to serious professional misconduct, which will be decided at a later date.

Let us watch the antivax crowd go apeshit to deify Wakefield as some sort of hero being framed by Big Pharma as part of their evil conspiracy. And now the mike goes to Age of Autism who’s bound to spew more stupidity than Mike Adams showered on us over the past week or so.

Wakefield’s false claims backfire

Posted in Left Brain Right Brain by Skepdude on July 8, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT LEFT BRAIN RIGHT BRAIN

Last week Andrew Wakefield announced to the world that the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) had ordered the Sunday Times to take down some articles about him from its website. Wakefield suggested that this was a tacit admission by the Times that its story was inaccurate and this message was dutifully repeated by Age of Autism and the rest of Wakefield’s online supporters.

As I reported previously, the PCC is waiting on the final outcome of the GMC disciplinary hearing against Wakefield before conducting its own inquiry over the articles and felt it would be fairer all round if the material was temporarily removed from the Times website. The Times agreed and removed the articles as a courtesy to the PCC. The Times was not impressed by Wakefield’s ungracious response and as a result the material is now back on their website.

This is not the first time that Wakefield’s actions have backfired on him. Four years ago he tried to sue Channel 4 and Brian Deer for libel over a documentary, MMR: What they didn’t tell you, that contained damaging revelations about Wakefield’s role in the MMR scare. As with his current complaint to the PCC and his recent press release, Wakefield’s action in bringing the case seems to have been motivated by a desire to please his loyal supporters rather than a serious attempt to settle the issue. Unusually for a litigant, Wakefield showed a marked reluctance to clear his name in court, seeking to delay the hearings for two years. When the court decided that Deer and his legal team were entitled to see the unredacted medical records of the children who were the subjects of Wakefield’s original Lancet paper Wakefield withdrew the action and agreed to pay costs to Brian Deer.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT LEFT BRAIN RIGHT BRAIN

“We support Dr. Andrew Wakefield”?

Posted in Respectful Insolence by Skepdude on February 25, 2009

Alright, I know that, after yesterday’s epic post (which was long even by Orac-ian standards), I said that I was going to try to get away from vaccine blogging for a while. I lied. Well, not really. At that time I really did mean it. But then I came across something that I just couldn’t leave alone.

Regular readers of this blog know my opinion of Andrew Wakefield, namely that he is a fraud, a quack, a charlatan, and a danger to the health of autistic children and public health in general. There is, as documented in my post and elsewhere, abundant evidence to support my opinion. But apparently there are some who don’t think the way I do. Apparently to some, the revelations of his research fraud notwithstanding, Andrew Wakefield remains a hero. In fact, there has recently appeared a website called We Support Dr. Andrew Wakefield.

Hand me a barf bag.

Let’s take a look at the “petition” they want people to sign

I had originally planned on a bit of deconstruction and translation, but Holford Watch beat me to it with a spot-on annotated version that I wish I had done. Instead, I was interested in who set up this website. A quick Whois revealed that the registrant is Edmund Arranga. I had no idea who Arranga is; so I Googled him. Guess what I found?

A page on Mothering.com labeling him as an “expert”:

Edmund C. Arranga is the co-founder of Autism One, a charity organization devoted to the care, treatment, and recovery of children with autism. Currently, a diagnosis of autism comes with the prognosis of forever and nothing could be further from the truth. Our children get better; some recover completely given the proper treatments and therapies.

AutismOne? That quackfest? Well, that explains a lot. Just look at the speaker list for this year’s AutismOne. It’s a veritable Who’s Who of autism quackery, fronted by Jenny McCarthy as keynote speaker and including Andrew Wakefield himself.

Still, there were a few parts of Arranga’s petition that struck me as worth commenting on. For example:

We declare that:1. Dr. Wakefield is a man of honesty, integrity, courage, and proven commitment to children and the public health.

 

Ha.

Ha ha.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Oh, heheheheheheheehee! Ahahahahahaha!

Oh, me! Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself. Heh. Hahaha. Must. Regain. Composure.

There. Now I’m better.

2. Dr. Wakefield’s research is rigorous, replicated, biologically valid, clinically evidenced, corroborated by published, peer-reviewed research in an abundance of scientific disciplines, and consistent with children’s medical problems.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Dammit. That one caught me by surprise, just as I had composed myself. I’m sorry; I just can’t help it. That’s too hilarious! But I do thank whoever is behind this effort. I’m still not back to normal after the death of my mother-in-law. Anything that makes me laugh so raucously is good in that it lets me forget my sadness for a while.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “RESPECTFUL INSOLENCE”