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The MMR controversy

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Emma Woolgatherer
Posts: 2976
Joined: February 27th, 2008, 12:17 pm

Re: The MMR controversy

#21 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » February 3rd, 2009, 4:03 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Ben Goldacre has posted a long (44-minute) segment from Jeni Barnett's show on LBC about MMR and related issues. I'm not sure when it was broadcast, but it must have been recently, because Barnett makes a reference to Darwin's 100th (sic) birthday. Ben writes:
It is my view that in this extended broadcast Jeni exemplifies every single canard ever uttered by the antivaccination movement ...
I'd be surprised if Jeni Barnett hasn't persuaded at least some parents not to have the MMR vaccine who would otherwise have done so. I just hope it's not too many.

Emma

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Alan H
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Jeni Barnett's quack nonsense on LBC radio

#22 Post by Alan H » February 6th, 2009, 12:18 am

Ben Goldacre (he of Bad Science fame) on the a radio broadcast by Jeni Barnett on LBC 97.3 (London's Biggest Conversation, apparently)where she mouthed off about the vaccines. As Ben put it:
It is my view that in this extended broadcast Jeni exemplifies every single canard ever uttered by the anti-vaccination movement. “It’s a conspiracy by the pharmaceutical industry.” “Science always changes so you can believe what you like.” “It’s a debate and a controversy.” “Measles was never that bad anyway.” “Immune systems are damaged by being understimulated.” “Immune systems are damaged by being overstimulated.” And so on.
His full post about her can be read here: Bad Science Bingo, with Jeni Barnett…. This did include a clip from her broadcast (about 30 minutes), but Ben got a letter from LBC's lawyers, telling him to remove the audio clip because he had breached copyright.

Of course, Ben could not illustrate the rantings of this scientifically-illiterate woman properly without showing her in her full horror. The offending programme is available on LBC's website, but they want good money to listen for it. It's on this page and it's the 'show' on 7 January 2009.

Ben has blogged about this here: Haha, er, “help”. Legal Chill from LBC 97.3 over Jeni Barnett’s MMR scaremongering.

Ben urges people to write to OfCom to complain about the irresponsible broadcast.

If you know a good lawyer who's looking for some pro bono work...

Jeni has a blog and there are quite a few comment on this. However, most are pro-science and only a few ignoramuses. Andrew Wakefield has commented and, predictably, John from the notorious whale.to conspiracy site.

I posted the following on her blog:
Jeni

You seem to know little about vaccines. But don't feel bad or embarrassed about this. There are many others like you in the same position: people who just don't have the knowledge, experience, education and training to understand the complexities of medicine or science.

However, to make up for this general ignorance, we take our most capable school children, educate them for several years in medicine at Universities, train them for a few more years and then only let them practice if they are registered with the General Medical Council. We should listen to what doctors say and we should take their advice: they really do know what they're talking about. They really do know more than most mothers and they certainly know more than a lay person, like yourself.

That's why someone who does not have that knowledge has to be careful what they say when those opinions contradict what doctors say, particularly when it is said to a large audience of people who may be swayed by what you say. The overwhelming consensus is that vaccines are safe and there is absolutely no link between MMR and autism - despite whatever you think Andrew Wakefield has said.

You have to admit that what you said was wrong and highly irresponsible and you need to properly inform your audience about vaccines. For the sake of our children, I urge you to do this at the earliest opportunity.
It remains to be seen whether she sees sense and recants.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
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Re: Jeni Barnett's quack nonsense on LBC radio

#23 Post by Alan H » February 6th, 2009, 1:00 am

Ah ha! Jeni Barnett's broadcast can be downloaded from WikiLeaks.

Bad Science: Jeni Barnett MMR and vaccination slot on LBC radio, 2009
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Zoe
Posts: 564
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 4:08 pm

Re: The MMR controversy

#24 Post by Zoe » February 9th, 2009, 8:52 am

So it seems that Wakefield is an even bigger scoundrel than we thought and actually falsified data. He should be in prison.

I've found a site that gives a round up of lots of different blog posts and articles about it after it appeared in the Sunday Times yesterday.

http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_d ... -link.html

Maria Mac
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Re: Jeni Barnett's quack nonsense on LBC radio

#25 Post by Maria Mac » February 10th, 2009, 1:55 pm

I love Stephen Fry's comment on Ben Goldacre's blog
Stephenfry said,

February 10, 2009 at 1:29 am

The fatuity of the Jeni Barnett woman’s manner - her blend of self-righteousness and stupidity, her simply quite staggering inability to grasp, pursue or appreciate a sequence of logical steps - all these are signature characteristics of Britain these days. The lamentable truth is that most of the population wouldn’t really understand why we get so angry at this assault on reason, logic and sense. But we have to keep hammering away at these people and their superstitious inanities. We have to. Well done you and well done all you supporting. I’ve tweeted this site to my followers. I hope they all do their best to support you. Publish and be damned. We’ll fight them and fight them and fight them in the name of empricism, reason, double blind random testing and all that matter.
Love

Stephen xxx
http://twitter.com/stephenfry
Merging this thread.

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Alan H
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Re: The MMR controversy

#26 Post by Alan H » February 10th, 2009, 10:35 pm

My complaint to OfCom:
Programme title: Jeni Barnett
Date of broadcast: 07 January 2009
Time of broadcast: 13:00
Channel/station: LBC 97.3, http://www.lbc.co.uk
Subject: Highly irresponsible programme
Description:

I am complaining about the Jeni Barnett programme in which she discussed vaccines.

The show was highly misleading and irresponsible and I believe it breached the following sections of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code:

Section 1: Protecting the Under-Eighteens
Section 2: Harm and Offence
Section 5: Due Impartiality and Due Accuracy and Undue Prominence of Views and Opinions

Barnet was obviously extremely ill-informed about vaccines in particular and medicine and science in general. In particular, she was ignorant of many facts about the MMR vaccine. She promulgated and reinforced several myths and lies about vaccines in general and MMR, including the alleged link between the MMR vaccine and Autism.

This alleged link was the result of Dr Andrew Wakefield's deliberate attempts to mislead and the subsequent over-reporting and mis-reporting by a scientifically illiterate media, who were out to sensationalise the story for their own ends. This misinformation was pounced on by many members of the public and reinforced by groups like homoeopaths and others who knew little of the medicine and epidemiology and certainly not enough to give informed opinions. Wakefield has been thoroughly discredited and may even have falsified results for his own financial gain.

The result of all this was that the uptake of the MMR vaccine dropped from around 90% to 50% in London. This, as has been reported recently in the press, has resulted in a large rise in the numbers of children contracting measles. UK-wide, the numbers contracting measles in 2005 was 77; in 2008, because of parents making ill-informed decisions, fuelled by ill-informed self-styled experts giving out dangerous advice, it rose to 1,300.

Barnett (like some others) believes that measles is a harmless childhood disease. However, the facts are that measles can kill: complications include severe coughs and breathing difficulties, ear and eye infections and pneumonia. Rarely, there can be serious complications affecting the brain and nervous system.

This all means that it is incumbent on those who have the ear of the general public to ensure that they properly inform their audience with the facts, informed by evidence and not personal ignorance.

I note that LBC 97.3 has a potential coverage of just under 11 million people and a reach of 600,000 in the London area; the area where the uptake of the MMR is lowest.

What Barnett did was to loudly broadcast her ill-informed and ignorant views, which perpetuated the myths that MMR was dangerous because of what it contained and that it causes Autism.

When she was challenged by someone who did know what she was talking about (the Nurse, Yasmin), she was barely allowed to voice her disagreement with Barnet rudely interrupting her. However, Yasmin's sensible and informed comments were drowned out by the load Barnett and she just did not take Yasmin's comments on board.

The impression many listeners will have been given by the show was that MMR is not safe; MMR may cause severe problems, including Autism; that measles is a harmless disease and that parents should not vaccinate. As I hope you will appreciate, this is wholly irresponsible and downright wrong.

I believe Barnet's show has caused damage to young children because some parents will have been influenced by the material broadcast. In particular, I believe her show contravened Rule 1.1:

"1.1 Material that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of people under eighteen must not be broadcast."

In Section 2 of the Code, I believe her show contravened Rule 2.2 and Rule 2.4:

"2.2 Factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience."

"2.4 Programmes must not include material (whether in individual programmes or in programmes taken together) which, taking into account the context, condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour."

I believe her material can be described as dangerous and seriously antisocial because of the harm it could cause to any children whose parents were influenced into not vaccinating their children and that effect on other children they come into contact with.

In Section 5 of the Code, I believe her show contravened Rule 5.7 and 5.9:

"5.7 Views and facts must not be misrepresented. Views must also be presented with due weight over appropriate timeframes."

"5.9 Presenters and reporters (with the exception of news presenters and reporters in news programmes), presenters of “personal view” or “authored” programmes or items, and chairs of discussion programmes may express their own views on matters of political or industrial controversy or matters relating to current public policy. However, alternative viewpoints must be adequately represented either in the programme, or in a series of programmes taken as a whole. Additionally, presenters must not use the advantage of regular appearances to promote their views in a way that compromises the requirement for due impartiality. Presenter phone-ins must encourage and must not exclude alternative views."

Barnet clearly misrepresented facts (whether she was aware of her ignorance or not). I believe she did not give the Nurse Yasmin due opportunity to express her professional and informed opinion and, even with her contribution, the show was completely biased in favour of an ill-informed and unscientific opinion of someone who later revealed that she was not a scientist (which was obvious anyway).


I hope that you will investigate this matter and inform me of the outcome.

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours,

Alan Henness
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan C.
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Re: The MMR controversy

#27 Post by Alan C. » February 10th, 2009, 10:56 pm

Good luck with it Alan, I've still had no word from them re the ad that stated, "broken bones can be seen to be healed by a gentle touch" (and others) such as, Chiropractors using the title Dr, when not registered with the GMC.
Even though I sent them the booklet that carried the ads.

They're probably too busy checking out adverts on buses.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Ninny
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Re: The MMR controversy

#28 Post by Ninny » February 12th, 2009, 1:03 pm

Interesting that the MMR myth persists, despite being debunked by people who know. A bit like religion, really!

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Alan H
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Re: The MMR controversy

#29 Post by Alan H » February 12th, 2009, 1:06 pm

Alan C. wrote:They're probably too busy checking out adverts on buses.
And I've sent in about 10 complaints recently. One they are not pursuing, two are going to adjudication and one they are dealing with informally. I'll post the results when I get them.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Anna of Arnica
Posts: 76
Joined: August 12th, 2008, 8:46 pm

Re: The MMR controversy

#30 Post by Anna of Arnica » February 12th, 2009, 6:09 pm

Not that you will be signing this but good to hear a summary from the 'other side'
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/wakefield/?e

...In the attempt to discredit Dr Wakefield and the other defendants, the prosecution, employed and paid for by the GMC, has suggested that none of the children referred to the Royal Free Hospital were actually ill. In order to support this suggestion, they have had to ensure that none of the parents of vaccine damaged children appear at the hearing. Meanwhile, in the background, Brian Deer has mounted significant attacks on these parents, accusing them of manufacturing information about the illnesses suffered by their children, and about its cause.

The GMC panel finished hearing the evidence and, at the time of writing, has been in recess awaiting the closing speeches of counsel, due to begin in March. The prosecution, during presentation of evidence from ‘witnesses to fact’ and the cross examination of the three defendants, has consistently failed to make a case out of Deer's allegations. In the last weeks of the hearing, it became clear that this failure was disturbing Deer. As his case collapsed, he resorted to writing to the GMC re-affirming his views about Dr Wakefield's unproven guilt and instructing the GMC in how they should have conducted the prosecution.

So upset was Deer by the evidence of Professor Murch who claimed that Deer might have breached the Data Protection Act and gained access to patient records, that he allegedly confronted and attempted to intimidate the professor in the foyer of the GMC hearing rooms while Professor Murch was giving evidence.

In the new attack on Dr Wakefield that appeared in the Sunday Times on February 8th 2009 Deer cited no new evidence. Furthermore, if allegations relating to ‘altered records’ held any merit at all, they would have been included in the hundred odd original GMC charges that the prosecution pored over for three years, whilst preparing its case.

The current attack comes five years – almost to the day – after Deer first began his campaign against Dr Wakefield in February 2004. It also comes as a clear indication that the government, the vaccine industry and the Sunday Times are fearful of losing 'their' case at the GMC. There is a transatlantic aspect to this fear, as more legal and medical decisions are made public in the US, which endorse the clinical and research positions taken by Dr Wakefield and his colleagues in Britain.

This fear of losing is generated by the fact that if the GMC do not find the three doctors guilty of the charges against them, the voice of the parents will finally be heard and the scandal of over one and a half thousand unrecognised vaccine damaged children in the UK and many, many thousands worldwide will be brought to the attention of the public....

Anna of Arnica
Posts: 76
Joined: August 12th, 2008, 8:46 pm

Re: The MMR controversy

#31 Post by Anna of Arnica » February 12th, 2009, 6:11 pm

9 February 2009
Autism, bowel disease, and MMR vaccination
In his desperation, Deer gets it wrong once again
By Dr Andrew Wakefield

Dr Andrew Wakefield writes:

Below is a list of the allegations made by Brain Deer against me, received on Friday 6th February 2009, 2 days prior to his publishing in the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper. [See MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism, Sunday Times, February 8, 2009.]

Brian Deer writes:

Dear Dr Wakefield,

I'm directed by editors managing my investigation of the MMR matter for The Sunday Times to inform you that we intend to publish further on this topic, and particularly on your role in it. It is now some five years since I first sought to discuss with you your work, and I've made numerous attempts to do so. As you will appreciate, the safety of children by means of vaccination is an unparalleled issue of public interest and concern.

As you will know, not least as a result of our concurrent attendance at the General Medical Council fitness to practise hearing into your conduct, I'm now extremely familiar with the precise medical histories, diagnoses and so forth of the children enrolled for your study, published in the Lancet on 28 February 1998. Based on this knowledge, and other sources of information, including the cooperation of families enrolled in your research, I must put to you, for your response, a number of serious matters.

(1) That you repeatedly, and without justification, changed and misreported findings from those children for publication in the Lancet.

I cite, for instance, three children who you represented as having regressive autism, who in fact had Asperger's disorder, or in one of those cases PDAS, which are not regressive and involve no loss of language or other basic skills. You claim that the paper is a series of "previously normal" children, but medical records - which you had a duty to read and understand - show that some five of the 12 children were subject to concerns prior to vaccination, and were not "normal". Other children, who you claimed to have suffered their first "behavioural symptoms" within days of vaccination, in fact had none for months. In the cases of some 8 children - two thirds of the total - you changed normal histopathology results to abnormal results, in a so-called "research review", despite claiming that the series was merely a clinical report.

Dr Andrew Wakefield responds:

The diagnoses reported in the Lancet were accurate based upon the information provided to the clinicians and review of the available records1.

Where there was considered to be a pre-existing developmental problem, this was accurately reported in the Lancet paper2. This is not the place to get into a detailed discussion on developmental regression which is still a subject of debate by experts in child development and is certainly not something about which Deer has any expertise.

It is a matter of fact that I did not play any part whatsoever in making the microscopic diagnoses of inflammation on any biopsy from any child investigated at the Royal Free Hospital. Intestinal tissues were examined, and the children’s pathology documented, by two doctors (not me) employed in the Department of Histopathology who were experienced in bowel disease, using an agreed protocol to ensure rigor and consistency. These doctors were co-authors on the paper. The same tissues were reviewed by Professor Walker-Smith and his team. I merely entered the documented findings into the Lancet paper. I did not “change” any findings as alleged. The paper was then reviewed by the relevant authors prior to submission to the Lancet in order to confirm that the diagnoses were correct. The findings reported in the Lancet are, in the opinion of the relevant authors, correct. This is a matter of record at the GMC.

Brian Deer writes:

(2) That, without justification, you omitted parental links to MMR in the case of one quarter of the children, in order to reach your unsubstantiated claim in the paper that problems came on within days.

Contrary to your claim that the parents of 8 of 12 children linked MMR to their child'sproblems, in fact the parents of 11 of the children made this connection whilst at the Royal Free. The additional, unreported, children are Child Five, Child Nine and Child Twelve. Their parents said that problems came on between one and four months after MMR, and their hospital records, which you had access to (and in one case wrote), show this. Through the device of their omission, you contrived to create the appearance of a clearcut temporal link between MMR and autism, when there was none such. Furthermore, by their omission, you contrived to create the appearance that these children were routine clinical cases passing through the hospital, when in fact, as you knew, they were recruited, marshalled and referred in collaboration between you, JABS and a solicitor. As such, they were bound to blame MMR when they came to the hospital.

Dr Andrew Wakefield responds:

This is a particularly tortuous argument that reflects Deer’s grasp (or lack of it) on both the scientific process and the evidence. Parents of 8 of the 12 children made the link between MMR vaccination and onset of symptoms contemporaneously. Other parents made the link retrospectively, that is, some years later. We reported on those 8 who made the link at the time of their child’s deterioration and excluded those who made the link later in order to remove any bias associated with recall that may have been prompted by, for example, media coverage. To have done otherwise would have been potentially misleading.

In fact, when all of the medical and parental records were made available via the GMC many years later, it became apparent that one further parent had made the link with MMR contemporaneously, but had remained silent on this at the request of her husband because it had led to doctors dismissing their concerns about their child’s medical problems on the basis that they were “just looking for something to blame.” This in itself is a telling indictment of how a possible cause risks being overlooked because of the prejudice of some physicians.

The second part of this allegation, which is dependent upon the fallacy in the first part, is nonsense. The route by which the children came to the Royal Free was one driven by clinical need and had nothing whatsoever to do with the lawyer Richard Barr. The facts of this matter and in particular the route by which the children came to be seen by Professor Walker-Smith, have been reported to the GMC. This allegation – one which Deer has rehashed in spite of the evidence – has no basis in fact.

It need hardly be stated again after so many occasions in the GMC but the leading, primary and principal reason all twelve children ended up at the Royal Free, was that they had bowel or 'stomach' problems. The matter of vaccination was brought up by parents because they thought that it was relevant to the clinical diagnosis.

Brian Deer writes:

(3) That the paper you wrote and published in the Lancet was a device, assisting you in obtaining money from the Legal Aid Board.

I draw to your attention your prior contractual undertaking with Mr Barr, and your joint undertaking to the Legal Aid Board to attempt to find a "new syndrome". This latter undertaking was entered into before any of the children were admitted to the Royal Free, or you could ever have known of any syndrome. Eighteen months later, you would declare that you had found precisely such a syndrome, based on the 8/12 temporal link, and an alleged coincidence of regressive autism and inflammatory bowel disease. The records show that neither of these are valid. Without the public ever suspecting, the route by which you reached this claim required the wholesale changing and misreporting of data. Following your claims, to which you attached the reputations of 12 other, generally unwitting, doctors, you successfully extracted substantial sums of money from the legal aid fund, not least for the business Unigenetics, of which you were a director, and for yourself personally. We have previously reported that the Legal Services Commission says that you pocketed more than £435,000, plus expenses. The amounts you received increased as the scare you created continued: the grossest possible conflict of interest.

Dr Andrew Wakefield responds:

Deer is wrong on all counts. The purpose of the contract with Mr Barr was to conduct a scientific study to look for measles virus proteins in the bowel of children (initially those with Crohn’s disease and later, to include those with autism and intestinal symptoms (such as abdominal pain and diarrhea) that required endoscopic examination and biopsy. On the other hand, the clinical basis for the investigation of the autistic children has been established by my pediatric colleagues – two of the most experienced pediatric gastroenterologists worldwide - beyond any reasonable doubt.

Deer has completely missed the point; the “syndrome” that we have accurately and reproducibly described is the combination of autistic regression, swelling of the lymph glands in the last part of the small intestine (ileum) and inflammation of the colon. Any association of this syndrome with MMR vaccine remains to be confirmed and, in contrast with Deer’s claim, the syndrome does not require any temporal link to MMR vaccination at all. This has been made clear to the GMC.

The children who turned out to suffer from the “syndrome” were referred as early as May 1995, long before I had ever heard of Richard Barr or vaccine litigation. Deer is aware of this fact.

Any payment that I received over the course of working for more than 7 years as a expert to the UK courts in the MMR litigation – substantially less than the sum Deer claims – was donated to an initiative to build a new center for the investigation and care of patients with inflammatory bowel disease at the Royal Free. This matter is described in more detail in a forthcoming essay by Bill Long, access to which will be posted in due course at http://www.drbilllong.com/index.html.

I resigned from Unigenetics and was not involved in the dealings of this company with the Legal Aid Board. Finally, I did not “create” a scare but rather, I responded to a scare that parents brought to my attention. To have ignored their concerns would have been professional negligence.

Brian Deer writes:

(4) That, additional to the above, in recent years you have reviewed your changes and misreportings in the Lancet, and yet you have neither withdrawn your claims in the paper, nor sincerely and publicly apologised for your conduct, as you should have done.

As a result of the GMC hearings, you have been supplied with all the documentation, and, indeed, were last year taken by counsel through the changes and misreportings. There can be no question that you know the precise details of these children. Particularly given outbreaks of measles, widely reported in UK media most recently today, and the appalling burden of guilt laid on the parents of autistic children who believe it was their own fault for vaccinating their child, you had an absolute duty to come forward at the earliest opportunity and make the position clear. You have not done so, but indeed continue to display the paper's claims on your website, and to campaign against MMR.

Dr Andrew Wakefield responds:

The evidence presented by me to the GMC described precisely and accurately the basis of the findings reported in the Lancet. The absence of any ‘misreporting’ is a matter of record both in my oral testimony and in that of my clinical colleagues. There is absolutely nothing either to withdraw or to apologize for in this matter. It is, however, a tragedy that the continued misrepresentation of the facts has had a negative impact on the ability of affected children to get access to the care that they so desperately need.

Brian Deer writes:

(5) That, overall, you created the appearance of a possible link between MMR and autism, when you knew, or should have known, that there was no reasonable basis for this in the histories of those children, and, as a result have caused immense and growing harm, unnecessary concern and waste of public money.

In summary, not one of the 12 children is free of serious doubt as to the manner in which their case has been reported by you. Indeed, there is no real evidence that any of the children were as you reported in the Lancet. When lack of evidence of previous normality, lack of evidence of regression, lack of evidence of inflammatory bowel disease, and lack of any temporal link as you describe, are taken into account, there was no basis in the records for your claim to have discovered any new syndrome at all.

Dr Andrew Wakefield responds:

Based upon the parental histories of regression in their children after MMR vaccine, the known link between measles and brain damage including autism3 and the findings in the children, there was and continues to be every reasonable basis for suspecting a possible link between MMR vaccination and autistic regression.

The reporting of the children in the Lancet paper is an accurate account of the clinical histories as reported to Professor Walker-Smith and his clinical colleagues. The normality or otherwise of the children’s development was evident in the medical history taken by these clinicians, and backed up by the Health Visitor’s4 contemporaneous record of the respective child’s development. The claim to have detected a possible new syndrome was valid and, in contrast with Deer’ false claim, is supported by confirmation of the original findings by others5.

Brian Deer writes:

As you will see, the issues we raise with you are not the same as the charges you face before the GMC, although the fitness to practise hearings have, as expected, yielded important insights and evidence. It is clear that, particularly in the context of measles outbreaks in the UK, US, Europe and now Australasia, it is important that the public be urgently informed of the true position at the earliest possible date.

Dr Andrew Wakefield responds:

On the contrary, the issues raised by Deer are, in many respects, identical to those raised by him on previous occasions. One can only imagine that, as the evidence has emerged at the GMC, the fallacy of Deer’s original allegations has become clear. The timing and content of Deer’s latest allegations and the published article, his behavior at the GMC hearing (See “The Incident” by Martin Walker6), and recent admissions of failings in the area of vaccine safety by the US National Vaccine Advisory Committee, suggest a degree of desperation on the part of Deer and those with whom he is working.

Measles outbreaks are preventable, immediately, by offering to parents with entirely valid concerns about the safety of MMR vaccine, a choice of single measles vaccine; not to do so is unethical and puts the vaccine policy, “our way or no way”, before the wellbeing of children.

There is absolutely no question of the continuing investigation and treatment of these children coming to a halt because of this or any other kind of subversive tactic.

References:

1 Health Visitor checks: a routine regular developmental and physical in-home assessment of children by the National Health Service in the UK

2 Lancet 1998:351;637-41

3 Deykin EY, MacMahon B, Viral exposure and autism. Am J Epidemiol, 1979;109:628–38.
Ring A, Barak Y, Ticher A, et al. Evidence for an infectious etiology in autism. Pathophysiology, 1997; 4:91–96.

4 Health Visitor checks: a routine regular developmental and physical in-home assessment of children by
the National Health Service in the UK

5 Gonzalez, L., et al., Endoscopic and Histological Characteristics of the Digestive Mucosa in Autistic Children with gastro-Intestinal Symptoms: A Preliminary Report. GEN Suplemento Especial de Pediatria, 2005;1:41-47.
Balzola, F., et al., Panenteric IBD-like disease in a patient with regressive autism shown for the first time by wireless capsule enteroscopy: Another piece in the jig-saw of the gut-brain syndrome? American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2005. 100(4): p. 979- 981.
Krigsman A et al. www.cevs.ucdavis.edu/Cofred/Public/Aca
/WebSec.cfm?confid=238&webid=1245 last accessed June 2007) (paper submitted for publication)

6 www.cryshame.co.uk//index.php?option=com_content&
task=view&id=113&Itemid=192

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Alan H
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The MMR controversy

#32 Post by Alan H » February 12th, 2009, 6:43 pm

Anna

It's been a while. I take it you've seen the decision, given today, by the US Federal Court of Claims that MMR is not associated with neurological damage?

If not, there is a good analysis here: Special Court that Heard the Autism Omnibus Says that Measles Vaccine Is Not Associated with Neurological Damage: Some Detail from the Rulings

And also Dr Michael Fitzpatrick's response to Brian Deer's allegations that Wakefield falsified evidence for financial gain: Dr Michael Fitzpatrick: The MMR scare: from foolishness to fraud?
The latest shocking revelations about Dr Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet paper suggest there was more to it than skewed science.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Dan
Posts: 298
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Re: The MMR controversy

#33 Post by Dan » February 12th, 2009, 11:40 pm

Anna of Arnica wrote:9 February 2009
Measles outbreaks are preventable, immediately, by offering to parents with entirely valid concerns about the safety of MMR vaccine
This appears to be a new use of "entirely valid" as synonymous with "completely false".

Or am I missing something?

Dan

Dan
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Re: The MMR controversy

#34 Post by Dan » February 12th, 2009, 11:50 pm

The quote is Wakefield's, I should make clear. Anyway, I'm not especially interested in Wakefield himself, since the big problem was the way the media adopted and promoted him for so long.

The following blog is a good place to follow the arguments, and includes a response to Wakefield's response to Deer:
http://holfordwatch.info/2009/02/09/and ... way-ahead/

Dan

Maria Mac
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Re: The MMR controversy

#35 Post by Maria Mac » February 13th, 2009, 2:13 pm

Thanks, Anna. As you suggest, it's always good to consider both sides of any story and as a service to any onlookers who are not too familiar with the Wakefield story and don't really know what all the fuss is about, I will take this opportunity to enlighten you.

In 1998, the Lancet published the report of a study by Andrew Wakefield and 12 colleagues into what they called 'autistic enterocolitis', said to be a new and distinctive inflammatory bowel disease found in children with autism. This paper said, "We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue."

This much was true. Here is a list of what we now know - or believe - not to be true:

Lie 1
Wakefield claimed the 12 children in his original study were 'consecutively referred' to the Royal Free Hospital's pediatric gastroeneterology unit with various bowel complaints. The impression he gave was that these children - most of whom had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders - just happened to turn up, one after the other, to his clinic. Struck by the symptoms and by how common the bowel problem-autism link seemed to be (12 kids in a row - wow!), Wakefield felt obligated to do some serious research on them.

Truth
However, Wakefield later admitted that these children didn't just happen to be consecutively referred. Some of their parents had actively sought him out because they believed their children had been damaged by the MMR jab and they knew about Wakefield's prior view that measles was somehow linked to bowel disease (a view that had not been found to have any basis in fact).

So the selection was (1) seriously biased and (2) gave the false impression that the supposed link between bowel problems and autism was far more common than it is.

Lie 2
Wakefield had written that his study was supported by Special Trustees of the Royal Free NHS Trust and the Children's Medical Charity.

Truth
He omitted to mention the biggest funder was the Legal Aid Board, who'd commissioned Wakefield, through personal injury lawyer Richard Barr, to conduct a pilot study on behalf of some parents of vaccine-damaged children and that a number of these vaccine-damaged children were used in the study. He only admitted this after Sunday Times reporter, Brian Deer, unearthed the evidence, some of which can be seen here.

This was a clear conflict of interest that he should have declared. It was the unearthing of this fact that caused Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, to say that if he'd known about it he wouldn't have published that part of the paper that raised the possibility of a link between MMR and autism. Wakefield's collaborators in the study also claim not to have known about it and, as a result, ten of the original 13 formally retracted that part of the paper.

Lie 3
Exactly how much did Wakefield get paid to find this link between MMR and autism and promote it vigorously? The figure of £50,000 was clearly documented and exposed by Brian Deer in 2004. Even so, Wakefield initially denied it, claiming it was closer to half this amount and said that, anyway, he had used it all to pay a research assistant.

Truth
However, two years later, according to the figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, Wakefield was in fact paid £435,643 in fees, plus £3,910 expenses for a variety of services in the cause of frightening parents away from the MMR jab.

Lie 4

The lynchpin of the study was the supposed discovery of the measles virus in the gut of the children he investigated. The gut biopsy and spinal fluid samples were collected from the children and tested by Nicholas Chadwick, a research assistant at the Royal Free's own lab. Chadwick was later to testify in front of a congressional committee in the US that he had tested the samples and they had proved negative and that he had told Wakefield this. Yet Wakefield claimed in the paper that evidence of the measles virus had been found.

Truth
It was later discovered that, unsatisfied with the negative lab results (which he kept quiet about) Wakefield had sent the samples to the Unigenetics lab in Dublin. This lab wasn't accredited and on being investigated, it was found to be contaminated with DNA, leading to false positive results. It is no longer in business. Nicholas Chadwick asked for his name to be removed from the study before publication because he "wasn't comfortable with the quality of the data".

(Alleged) Lie 5
I say 'alleged' because I don't know enough about this one but one of the very serious charges against Wakefield et al is that they claimed to have ethics committee approval for the study,

Truth
In fact he only had ethics committee approval for a somewhat different study.

Lie 6
The invasive procedures such as lumbar punctures and bowel scopes were said by Wakefield et al to have been clinically indicated and therefore ethics committee approval for them was unnecessary. (Edited to removed the word 'alleged' in front of lie 6. After further reading, I've established that there's no doubt about this one).

Truth
In fact they were not clinically indicated and approval should have been sought. According to a Daily Mail report, one five year old child was left in a critical condition after his colon was perforated over 12 times.

£500,000 for boy left fighting for life after being used as MMR guinea pig

Sin of omission
Thanks to Brian Deer, we now know something else that Wakefield forgot to tell us, which is that while his study was under way he was beavering away developing a rival vaccine of his own: a single measles vaccine (and related products) for which his first patent application was filed three months before publication of the study and two further applications were filed some time later.

At the press conference Wakefield called at the time the study was published, he (allegedly) said he was confident that he would find the hitherto missing link between MMR and autism within a few months (remember - the study had categorically stated that no link had been found, it merely raised it as a possibility). In the meantime, he advised parents to reject the MMR vaccine in favour of single vaccines. He didn't go so far as recommending the vaccine that he himself was planning and hoping to make a fortune from. I can't think why. :rolleyes:

Single vaccines are not available on the NHS and only obtainable from doctors in private practice. Furthermore, Wakefield - who is not, after all, an immunologist or a pediatrician, recommended something like a 12 month interval between each one. This was in effect a call to leave children unprotected from potentially serious infectious diseases for far longer than necessary. To take measles, for example, according to Health Protection Agency figures, in the ten years prior to 1988 - the year MMR was launched in the UK - 863 children had died as a direct result of this disease. In the ten years following the launch (1989-98), this figure had dropped to 18. We were on our way to achieving the 95% take up rate that would have provided herd immunity when Wakefield dropped his bombshell.

Was he justified?

It's now been eleven years since Wakefield confidently predicted that he would find a link between MMR and any kind of ASD. He has spectacularly failed to do so. His hypothesis that the measles virus introduced by the MMR jab travelled to the intestine and damaged it causing a 'leaky gut' thereby allowing harmful proteins contained in the gut to escape into the bloodstream and eventually reach the brain to cause autism, has been soundly refuted. It is said that in some of the children he studied, the symptoms of gastric problems predated their MMR jabs. Furthermore, over 20 epidemiological studies involving hundreds of thousands millions of children have failed to show any link between MMR and autism.

I won't bother going into the latest revelations about Wakefield (allegedly) falsifying data. People can read the report here together with the response helpfully posted above by Anna and the response to the response linked to by Dan, then decide for themselves whether they think the man has a shred of integrity.

Obviously, many people - including Anna - think he has, though the reasons why they might think so given the catalogue of deception he has perpetrated on the public are not immediately apparent.

If, after reading down to here, you still can't make up your mind, you might also consider the response Wakefield issued to Brian Deer's previous allegations (we have to be fair), together with the fact that he later sued Deer for libel, only to abandon his claim and end up paying Deer compensation. Poor Dr Wakefield! The court report also makes for interesting reading if you like that sort of thing as much as I do.

Finally, if you enjoy stories about children being hurt and upset and birthday parties, you might like to watch this brief video about this hero of the anti-vax movement's unconventional approach to blood sampling.

Hope that helps. :D

Zoe
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Re: The MMR controversy

#36 Post by Zoe » February 13th, 2009, 5:00 pm

Maria, :notworthy: nice job. I'd read a lot of the story in Michael Fitzpatrick's book, which I thoroughly recommend, but you've given a nice concise summary. Well done!

What I really don't get is why all those people still support this guy. They accuse Paul Offit of just being motivated by money and calling him Dr Profit because he created a vaccine for the rotavirus. But Wakefield was also after making a vaccine and big money for it, for chrissakes! He's obviously not anti-vax so WTF are they doing?

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Alan H
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Re: The MMR controversy

#37 Post by Alan H » February 14th, 2009, 11:56 am

Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Firebrand
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Re: The MMR controversy

#38 Post by Firebrand » February 15th, 2009, 1:17 pm

Fantastic post, Maria.

As a matter of interest, is the 'unprotected for longer' argument the only one against single vaccines? I'm sure I've heard other arguments but I can't remember them and I'm too lazy to look them up.

Maria Mac
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Re: The MMR controversy

#39 Post by Maria Mac » February 15th, 2009, 1:26 pm

I think the other main argument is that it would mean six jabs instead of two so more stress for the children and more hassle for the adults. Inevitably some children will miss their second jab and be unprotected.

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Alan H
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Re: The MMR controversy

#40 Post by Alan H » February 15th, 2009, 1:58 pm

Maria wrote:I think the other main argument is that it would mean six jabs instead of two so more stress for the children and more hassle for the adults.
And I'm sure this means extra cost because of unnecessary additional visits to your GP, using up everyone's time. Of course, the anti-jabbers quickly turn that round and say it's to do with cost-cutting...ho hum.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Maria Mac
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Re: The MMR controversy

#41 Post by Maria Mac » February 23rd, 2009, 7:46 pm

The best report of the Autism Omnibus comes from Michael Fitzpatrick in spiked online here. Inevitably, it's long but it's well worth the time.
The gulf in academic and professional standards between the rival experts in these cases is not the result of the petitioners’ difficulty in persuading high quality scientists and doctors to testify on their behalf. It reflects the fact that the bad science of the vaccine-autism campaign is not supported by reputable scientists and doctors in the relevant disciplines. It is a great misfortune that, over the past decade, thousands of parents of autistic children, on both sides of the Atlantic, have come under the influence of the plausible purveyors of the junk science of the vaccine-autism campaign. The great value of the Omnibus Autism Proceedings has been in exposing the work of these shady practitioners to the scrutiny of serious scientists.

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