CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviews Wakefield:An infamous 1998 study that ignited a worldwide scare over vaccines and autism — and led millions of parents to delay or decline potentially lifesaving shots for their children — was "an elaborate fraud," according to a scathing three-part investigation in the British medical journal BMJ.The study has long since been debunked and dismissed by the scientific community, which points to 14 independent studies that have failed to find any link between vaccines and autism.
Last year, The Lancet issued a formal retraction. British medical authorities last year also found the study's lead author, Andrew Wakefield, guilty of serious professional misconduct, stripping him of his ability to practice medicine in England.
Now, the BMJ reports that Wakefield, who was paid more than $675,000 by a lawyer hoping to sue vaccine makers, was not just unethical — he falsified data in the study, which suggested that children developed autism after getting a shot against measles, mumps and rubella....Few studies have had such far-reaching and harmful effects, especially after being so thoroughly discredited, says William Schaffner, an infectious-disease expert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Vaccination rates in England plummeted after Wakefield's news conference to promote his study. Measles outbreaks in the United Kingdom and Ireland hospitalized hundreds of people and killed four children, says Paul Offit, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Nearly 40% of American parents also have declined or delayed a vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many parents now have a vague distrust of vaccines — with little to no memory of diseases that terrified their grandparents, Schaffner says.
Anderson Cooper also interviewed him:
From The British Medical Journal :
In a series of articles starting this week, and seven years after first looking into the MMR scare, journalist Brian Deer now shows the extent of Wakefield’s fraud and how it was perpetrated (doi:10.1136/bmj.c5347). Drawing on interviews, documents, and data made public at the GMC hearings, Deer shows how Wakefield altered numerous facts about the patients’ medical histories in order to support his claim to have identified a new syndrome; how his institution, the Royal Free Hospital and Medical School in London, supported him as he sought to exploit the ensuing MMR scare for financial gain; and how key players failed to investigate thoroughly in the public interest when Deer first raised his concerns.11
Deer published his first investigation into Wakefield’s paper in 2004.12 This uncovered the possibility of research fraud, unethical treatment of children, and Wakefield’s conflict of interest through his involvement with a lawsuit against manufacturers of the MMR vaccine. Building on these findings, the GMC launched its own proceedings that focused on whether the research was ethical. But while the disciplinary panel was examining the children’s medical records in public, Deer compared them with what was published in the Lancet. His focus was now on whether the research was true.
The Office of Research Integrity in the United States defines fraud as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism.13 Deer unearthed clear evidence of falsification. He found that not one of the 12 cases reported in the 1998 Lancet paper was free of misrepresentation or undisclosed alteration, and that in no single case could the medical records be fully reconciled with the descriptions, diagnoses, or histories published in the journal.
Who perpetrated this fraud? There is no doubt that it was Wakefield. Is it possible that he was wrong, but not dishonest: that he was so incompetent that he was unable to fairly describe the project, or to report even one of the 12 children’s cases accurately? No. A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross. Moreover, although the scale of the GMC’s 217 day hearing precluded additional charges focused directly on the fraud, the panel found him guilty of dishonesty concerning the study’s admissions criteria, its funding by the Legal Aid Board, and his statements about it afterwards.14