We’ve reported before over the professional disgrace of Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield is one of the worst cases of everything a researcher and a physician should not be. With complete disregard for the safety and welfare of others and his own professional obligations Doctor Mister Wakefield has not simply cherry-picked or spun data in favor of his claims: he just plain lied. Let me make this clear again: he didn’t take improper measurements or use the data in an improper way, he simply made up facts that were not true. And if that’s not bad enough he did it in regards to a matter of extreme consequence to public health and to the state of medical research.
Sadly, he’s gotten quite a lot of support and many have even seen his disgrace by British and other national medical bodies as more proof that he’s being persecuted by a big conspiracy.
No surprise, the GMC (General Medical Council) – the British body responsible for investigating things of this nature has returned its verdict: guilty of professional misconduct, violations of ethics and other infractions against professional standards.
Doctor in disgrace
The consultant who sparked the MMR vaccine scare now faces being struck off
The descent into professional disgrace of Andrew Wakefield is now almost complete. The doctor who fanned an unwarranted panic by suggesting a link between the three-in-one measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism â€” prompting a fall in vaccination rates that spawned a startling rise in cases of measles â€” was condemned yesterday by the General Medical Council for acting ishonestly and irresponsibly in conducting his research. He now faces the possibility of being struck off the medical register.
Nobody can doubt the GMC’s diligence. After conducting hearings over a period of two and a half years, it ruled that Wakefield had carried out invasive and unnecessary tests on children that were against their best clinical interests: he paid children for blood samples at his son’s birthday party, acting, said the GMC, â€œwith callous disregard for the suffering of children.
The Lancet long ago regretted having published Wakefield’s initial study 12 years ago. No respected research has ever supported the findings that led Wakefield to brand his studies a moral issue that made him unable to support the continued use of the MMR jab. Indeed, a landmark study in Japan found that, on using single vaccines instead of the MMR, the number of diagnosed cases of autism actually rose sharply.
Just to be clear on one thing here: this article implies that changing from the single-shot MMR vaccine to multiple vaccines, one for each of the conditions covered was associated with a rise in autism. Less someone twists that to make it sound like there’s a relationship between more vaccinations and autism, I should point out that there’s no evidence that there is any connection between vaccination and autism at all. More likely this was simply part of the general trend of more autism diagnoses which has been attributed to greater screening and more broad diagnostic criteria than may have been used in years past.
As for Wakefield himself, he no longer lives in the UK, having moved to the US. The fact that he is no longer able to practice medicine in the UK is largely moot, as he is no longer in any way acting as a true physician. Rather, he’s managed to carve out a lucrative niche for himself as a spokesperson for various lies and a public figure who makes money by promoting various quack practices and products. He’s more of a professional liar than a doctor at this point.
Sadly the verdict by the GMC is little more than symbolic. Wakefield’s credibility and respectability in the medical community evaporated years ago and the verdict does not not impose any legal penalties, like a criminal court would. Thus Wakefield remains a free man to spread his nonsense. If nothing else, this should highlight the need for greater legal accountability for those who lie on scientific papers and studies. While science thrives on openness and freedom, this should not include clear-cut cases of outright lies, presented as fact and causing direct harm to scientific research and the greater public good as a direct consequence. Such lies are very rare in professional scientific research, but when they do occur, they are appalling.
This entry was posted on Thursday, January 28th, 2010 at 11:46 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Conspiracy Theories, Not Even Wrong, Quackery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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