Dr Crippen in being less than happy about the additional publicity going to the ‘evidence’ that MMR causes autism. However, I think it’s worth returning to Holford’s claim that “Dr Andrew Wakefield…is facing a hearing with the General Medical Council, and may be struck off for, in effect, challenging the status quo”. With Wakefield’s GMC hearing coming up, these issues will get a lot of publicity anyway…I wasn’t at all sure if I wanted to post this. I’m with
Holford’s claims was not just wrong – it was very predictably wrong (I predicted it, not that I’d expect any credit for predicting something this obvious). The GMC has now released its charges against Wakefield – challenging the status quo is, unsurprisingly, not among them. Autism Diva covers this well – the GMC allege that Wakefield and his colleagues
undertook research during the period 1996-98 without proper ethical approval, failed to conduct the research in accordance with the application submitted to the ethics committee, and failed to treat the children admitted into the study in accordance with the terms of the approval given by the ethics committee…It is further alleged that the three practitioners permitted a programme of investigations to be carried out on a number of children as part of the research study, some of which were not clinically indicated when the Ethics Committee had been assured that they were all clinically indicated. These investigations included colonoscopies and lumbar punctures. It is alleged that the performance of these investigations was contrary to the clinical interests of the children…The Panel will inquire into allegations that Dr Wakefield acted unethically and abused his position of trust as a medical practitioner by taking blood from children at a birthday party to use for research purposes without ethics committee approval, in an inappropriate social setting, and whilst offering financial inducement.
Clearly, allegations of unethical experiments on children should be investigated – it is not appropriate to dismiss this as a hearing where Wakefield is charged with ‘challenging the status quo’. Shinga argues that Holford “owes it to the people who rely upon him to revise his acceptance of Wakefield’s science and findings”. I would argue that Holford also owes the people who rely on him an accurate summary of the allegations against Wakefield that will be tested at the forthcoming GMC hearing. It’s an insult both to Holford’s audience, and to the children involved in Wakefield’s allegedly unethical experiments, to claim that this is just about Wakefield ‘challenging the status quo’.