You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, May 24, 2010 : 11:07 a.m.

Doctor at heart of MMR - autism banned in Britain

By Jen Eyer

Britain's top medical group today banned Andrew Wakefield, the doctor behind the MMR - autism scare, saying he "abused his position of trust" and "brought the medical profession into disrepute" in studies he carried out on children, the Telegraph reports.

This column, also in the Telegraph, recounts Wakefield's role in the MMR scare. Key points:

Back in 1998 when his original Lancet article was published, it was not unreasonable to ask for more research; the measles virus was found in the guts of eight autistic children (out of a total group of 12) whose parents believed that the MMR “triple jab” had sparked the condition.

However, even at that stage, Wakefield went further, calling for the triple jab to be scrapped for single vaccines until “the issue had been resolved”. This was despite good clinical reasons for giving the three together.

By 2002 there was pretty solid evidence that the MMR jab did not cause autism. But Wakefield continued to campaign for single jabs. It has since emerged that he earned £400,000 in fees as an expert witness for campaign groups preparing a lawsuit on behalf of parents of autistic children. He also owns the patent on a single vaccine, which he developed a few months before he called for the scrapping of the triple jab in favour of a single injection.

He has also been found guilty, following a fantastic piece of investigative journalism by Brian Deer of The Sunday Times, of unethical research behaviour, needlessly carrying out painful and invasive tests on autistic children, and bribing children at a birthday party £5 each to give blood samples. In the wake of the conflict-of-interest and unethical research findings, the Lancet retracted its original article. The GMC has struck him off for those findings, not for his stance on MMR.