May we direct your attention to Dr Andrew Wakefield’s 58 page submission to the Press Complaints Commission complaining of Brian Deer’s recent revelations in Sunday Times.
These allegations are false and/or misleading and will have a hugely adverse effect on my credibility as a scientist and my ability to ever practice again in my chosen field. More importantly, the impact of Mr. Deer’s false and misleading claims upon the perception of medical professionals of the medical disorder suffered by the Lancet children and therefore, the provision of adequate care for autistic children, is potentially devastating.
It is more probable that any shards of credibility as a scientist disappeared with the testimony of Dr Nick Chadwick and Professor Stephen Bustin at the Autism Omnibus Proceedings in 2007. In a different part of the proceedings, Professor Bertus Rima mentioned that Wakefield was advised that he had identified only a common mammalian protein rather than measles virus in his research gut samples as early as 1992[a] (back in the days when Wakefield was arguing for a connection between measles virus in the gut and Crohn’s Disease[b]). So, as further detailed by Orac, Andrew Wakefield should rest easy on that front if he is worried about losing credibility as a scientist.[c]
The parents and other entrepreneurs who declare love for Andrew Wakefield or have a useful financial stream from his work, still support him so it is unlikely there will be that much of an impact on his ability to work (restricted as it is by residing in Texas where he has already has only limited rights to practise medicine).
As for the “adequate care” on offer – Secretin has been examined as a treatment intervention and found wanting. Ditto, there is no clinical support for the masses of supplements and the ‘healing regime’ for ‘damaged guts’ that Wakefield and those who depend upon him, sell.
What about the harm done to the children who might not otherwise have developed vaccine-preventable diseases had it not been for the MMR scare?
The complaint continues but it is remarkably Holford-esque (see AZT and Vitamin C in treatment of Aids myth) in that it is obvious that the writer considers that it contains semantic distinctions that are apparent to no other reader. E.g., Brian Deer wrote, in MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism:
The research was published in February 1998 in an article in The Lancet medical journal. It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab.
This claim is factually inaccurate. The paper states that, “Onset of behavioural symptoms was associated, by the parents with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children…” (see paper)
True, however, in a companion article, Hidden Records Show MMR Truth, Deer wrote:
According to the paper, published on February 28, 1998, the parents of eight of the children said their “previously normal” child developed “behavioural symptoms” within days of receiving the jab.
“In these eight children the average interval from exposure to first behavioural symptoms was 6.3 days,” said the paper.
We are genuinely failing to understand what Wakefield objects to in either the original or the elaborated Deer version. Wakefield continues:
[Deer wrote] “The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children’s conditions.”
This is also factually inaccurate. Nowhere in the Lancet paper is such a claim made. (see paper)
Now, yes, that was the handwave summary that probably belonged in a different paragraph. However, in the same edition, the Hidden Records article clearly reports:
The children were supposed to have a new inflammatory bowel disease, written up in the Lancet paper as “consistent gastrointestinal findings” involving “nonspecific colitis”. Wakefield said that this inflammation of the colon caused the gut to become “leaky”, allowing food-derived poisons to pass into the blood-stream and the brain.
“The uniformity of the intestinal pathological changes and the fact that previous studies have found intestinal dysfunction in children with autistic-spectrum disorders, suggests that the connection is real and reflects a unique disease process, ” the Lancet Paper explained of the “syndrome”.
Deer’s account seems admirably succinct and clear. As pointed out in the comments, we direct your attention to the 1998 Royal Free press release about the Lancet paper (pdf) that states:
Researchers at the Royal Free…may have discovered a new syndrome in children involving a new inflammatory bowel disease and autism…
So, again, it is a little difficult to accept Wakefield’s complaint as a full-throated or well-grounded grievance rather than a diversionary tactic.
The complaint continues but Andrew Wakefield was ill-advised to detail his objections in such a pettifogging way as each point may seem a telling blow to his supporters but more like a loss of dignity to more disinterested readers.
There are two parts to this allegation.
• “the research paper”
This was not a “research paper”. It was a clinical ‘case series’ that contained additional research elements . Labeling it as a research paper is intended to convey the impression that the children were investigated purely for the purposes of experimentation…
No, it’s quite clear that Brian Deer was using “research paper” in its usual sense, the remainder of that is embarrassing. We again refer you to the press release.
Dr Wakefield said: “The study has identified a possible link between gut disorders in children and autism. In the majority of cases the onset of symptoms occurred soon after the MMR vaccination. We clearly need further research to examine this new syndrome and, to look into a possible relation to the MMR vaccine.
Who is the reader that Wakefield wishes to divert? His core followers are still slavishly devoted to him. Those of us for whom his scientific credibility vanished as the Autism Omnibus proceedings continued to reveal more information that had come to light during the Legal Aid case but had not been revealed until the lawyers negotiated the release of some of the expert report? Who?
17 March. Brian Deer has published a response: Andrew Wakefield Complaint. Deer condenses the timeline of events that led to the GMC investigation of Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues. It is clear that Wakefield’s repeated claims that Deer has a conflict of interest as the initiating complainant to the GMC are wrong. This is a point on which Wakefield and his adherents have been corrected many times.
[H]ere’s your chance for an integrity reality check. Wakefield knows that his allegation isn’t true. I did not initiate the GMC’s investigation. The historical facts on this are quite clear. Following a statement by the editor of the Lancet, the investigation was initiated, in February 2004, by (a) the then-secretary of state for health, John Reid MP, who called for a GMC investigation; (b) by Wakefield himself – yes, Wakefield himself [see also the same BBC report], who said in a statement that he would “insist” on an investigation; and (c) by the GMC itself, whose staff then approached me, on the day after my first report appeared. They asked for my materials, which I was more than glad to give them. I’m not the complainant, as Wakefield knows.
The position was restated at Wakefield’s GMC hearing on 16 March 2009, when Sally Smith QC, in closing submissions for the prosecution, told the panel how the proceedings came about….”I should remind you that the prosecution has been brought solely on the instructions of the General Medical Council. Mr Deer is not the complainant.”
Deer offers a similarly robust invitation to the reader to read a refutation of Wakefield’s purported explanation for his abandonment of his libel action against Deer.
[a] 1992 Virologist Professor Bertus (Burt) Rima met Dr Andrew Wakefield at a conference. It is clear that experienced measles virologists looked at Wakefield’s materials and attended conference meetings to assess his work. Unfortunately, even at that early date, it seems that Wakefield had cherry-picked his results and was not responsive to criticism. Wakefield was alerted to his mistaken identification of cellular material as the measles virus.
[Dr Bertus Rima] met Dr. Wakefield at a conference in 1992, where a number of measles virologists looked at the material Dr. Wakefield had produced. Doctor Rima attended two meetings, and concluded that the material produced in support of Dr. Wakefield’s claims was highly selective, and that Dr. Wakefield was not responsive to criticisms of his findings. The cellular material that Dr. Wakefield claimed was measles virus was not measles virus. Snyder Tr. at 843A-46A. [Vowell.Snyder pg. 121 (pdf and ftp)]
[b] We will elaborate this further in a timeline but although Wakefield published his ideas about measles virus in the gut as an agent for Crohn’s Disease in 1995 (more specifically, Wakefield posited that Crohn’s disease was caused by infarctions of small blood vessels in the gut wall and that the measles virus was responsible for the infarctions), other researchers reported in the same year that they had been unable to identify the virus. This work was later replicated by others and Wakefield eventually dropped this avenue of enquiry although he does not seem to have accepted the criticism of the PCR techniques that he used in his research. See, e.g., pp. 116-8 Vowell.Snyder pg. 121 (pdf and ftp).
[c] Wakefield is entirely responsible for his reputation as a credible scientist or otherwise.
1995 Dr Rima was approached about co-authorship by a student of Wakefield’s.
After examining the data supplied by the student, Dr. Rima concluded that the findings of measles virus were based on contamination from a measles virus clone he had previously supplied to Dr. Wakefield as a positive control for his research. When an abstract concerning positive results for the presence of measles virus was not retracted after Dr. Rima informed them of the contamination, Dr. Rima formally withdrew from his collaboration with Dr. Wakefield. [Vowell.Snyder pp. 121-22 (pdf and ftp)]
1998 At approximately this time.
When Dr. Wakefield first began to implicate MMR as a cause of autism, he invited Dr. Griffin to the U.K. as a consultant, presumably based on her expertise with measles virology. Cedillo Tr. at 2832A. She spoke with people from his laboratory at an open scientific meeting where they indicated they were having problems getting their PCR testing to work. Cedillo Tr. at 2861A-62. It was quickly apparent to Dr. Griffin that Dr. Wakefield’s laboratory personnel did not know how to perform PCR testing and analysis. Based on her personal interactions with Dr. Wakefield, she was suspicious of the research he did, and she declined the consultation offer. Cedillo Tr. at 2832A 33. [Vowell.Snyder pg. 123 (pdf and ftp)]
In line with the experience of Rima, Dr Brian Ward recounted his experience of interacting with Wakefield on a matter of scientific accuracy and integrity.
Doctor Ward testified that Dr. Wakefield presented data from an abstract of work done by Dr. Ward’s laboratory as supportive of Dr. Wakefield’s MMR-autism hypothesis. Doctor Ward personally cautioned Dr. Wakefield against relying on this data because what was presented initially in the abstract turned out to be wrong. [Vowell.Snyder pp. 123-4 (pdf and ftp)]
The full account of this incident is fascinating. The American Academy of Pediatrics had asked Ward’s team if they had any data on the topic of identifying and sequencing measles virus using PCR on gut biopsies that had been obtained from various paediatric and adult gastroenterologists. At that time, it looked like one of Ward’s students had identified a “new biology” and virus in the samples which was pretty exciting. So, Ward submitted those results with appropriate caveats that the results would be subject to further confirmation. However:
[on subsequent examination] we demonstrated to our satisfaction that what the first medical student had generated was probably not true, for a variety of technical reasons, contamination, and inadequate procedures by a relatively inexperienced operator. And so that data was presented as an abstract at the American Academy of Pediatrics in preliminary form, and has never been published because, in fact, it was wrong, as often happens with abstracts.
[Ward then asked by the legal counsel] [n]ow, did you later discover that the abstract you presented had been used by others in the scientific community?
Ward: I was a little bit surprised at the Institute of Medicine meeting when I was on the review panel when Dr. Wakefield actually presented my data with his own interpretation, and actually had the courtesy of thanking me for doing this very important work, even though he knew that it hadn’t been published, was preliminary, and I took pains to explain to him after that presentation that the work hadn’t been replicated and therefore shouldn’t be used in the way he was using it. [pp. 75-6, Ward testimony as part of Cedillo vs HHS, 2007 (ftp, pdf)]