Wakefield tried to capitalize on autism-vaccine link, report says
Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who made now widely discredited claims about a link between autism and childhood vaccines, explored business arrangements to capitalize on the supposed association, according to a new report.
In a follow-up to another report published last week in the British medical journal BMJ, investigative reporter Brian Deer describes that documents he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that show that Wakefield met with officials at the Royal Free Medical School in London where he worked and others to discuss developing new vaccines to replace the MMR and other products.
In 1998, Wakefield published a study in another British medical journal, The Lancet suggesting that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine could cause autism. The study triggered international alarm about vaccines, but quickly came under intense criticism, was discredited by follow-up research, and was eventually formally retracted by the journal.
Nevertheless, the incidence of childhood measles rose in Great Britain and elsewhere after Wakefield's study was published, as worried parents refused to have their children vaccinated against the potentially deadly disease. Parents have also shunned other vaccines. And even after Wakefield's work was debunked, he continues his research in the United States and to have loyal, highly vocal supporters.
Last week, BMJ, published an analysis by Deer that concluded Wakefield's work was fraudulent. Deer outlined a series of discrepancies and irregularities in the research, including falsification of data, that remained unquestioned for years.
In the new report, Deer describes a variety of efforts Wakefield undertook to make money from his work. For example, Wakefield and his associates predicted they could make more than $43 million a year from diagnostic kits alone for a condition he argued affected autistic children dubbed "austistic enterocolitis," according to one 35-page document.
| January 11, 2011; 6:30 PM ET
Categories: Autism, Vaccines
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