Friday, January 07, 2011

Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent.

“Science is at once the most questioning and . . . sceptical of activities and also the most trusting,” said Arnold Relman, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, in 1989. “It is intensely sceptical about the possibility of error, but totally trusting about the possibility of fraud.”1 Never has this been truer than of the 1998 Lancet paper that implied a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and a “new syndrome” of autism and bowel disease.
Authored by Andrew Wakefield and 12 others, the paper’s scientific limitations were clear when it appeared in 1998.2 3 As the ensuing vaccine scare took off, critics quickly pointed out that the paper was a small case series with no controls, linked three common conditions, and relied on parental recall and beliefs.4 Over the following decade, epidemiological studies consistently found no evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.5 6 7 8 By the time the paper was finally retracted 12 years later,9 after forensic dissection at the General Medical Council’s (GMC) longest ever fitness to practise hearing,10 few people could deny that it was fatally flawed both scientifically and ethically. But it has taken the diligent scepticism of one man, standing outside medicine and science, to show that the paper was in fact an elaborate fraud.
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief,
  2. Jane Smith, deputy editor,
  3. Harvey Marcovitch, associate editor

For UHM users only:

PMID: 21209059
BMJ. 2010 Feb 2;340:c696. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c696.

How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed

PMID: 21209060

BMJ. 2011 Jan 5;342:c7452. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c7452.

Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent.

Autism Fraud-New York Times Editorial

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