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Journal Accuses Autism/Vaccine Researcher Of Fraud

January 6, 2011

A prominent medical journal has accused the doctor who first linked autism and MMR vaccines of committing fraud by falsifying information in his research.

On Thursday, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a story entitled, “Secrets of the MMR scare: How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed” by London journalist Brian Deer. In the story, Deer addresses “the bogus data behind claims that launched a worldwide scare over the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, and reveals how the appearance of a link with autism was manufactured at a London medical school.”

“Who perpetrated this fraud? There is no doubt that it was Wakefield,” added BMJ editor Dr. Fiona Godlee and colleagues in a separate commentary, also published Thursday.

The study in question, written by Andrew Wakefield, John Walker-Smith, and 11 others from the Royal Free Medical School in London, was initially published by the Lancet on February 28, 1998 and was retracted last February “on the grounds of conflict of financial interest and unethical treatment of some children involved in the research,” according to AFP reports.

In an article discussing Deer’s report, the Associated Press (AP) claims that the British journalist “found that despite the claim in Wakefield’s paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems.” The AP also says that Deer discovered that all of the cases involved in Wakefield’s study “were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children’s parents.”

“Of nine children described by Wakefield as having ‘regressive autism,’ only one clearly had this condition and three were not even diagnosed with autism at all,” Deer’s investigation discovered, according to AFP, adding that “the findings had been skewed in advance, as the patients had been recruited via campaigners opposed to the MMR vaccine.”

Ten of Wakefield’s co-authors requested that their names be removed from the study before the Lancet denounced its findings as a whole. Wakefield, who was a consultant in experimental gastroenterology at the time the study was written, has denied the allegations.

“The study is not a lie. The findings that we have made have been replicated in five countries around the world,” Wakefield told CNN television on Wednesday, according to Reuters Health and Science Editor Maggie Fox. Conversely, according to AFP reports, experts claim that the results of the study have never been replicated. The Lancet declined the French news agency’s request for comment.

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