We are 100% user-supported!
Without you, there is no RationalWiki!
|Goal: $5000||Donations so far: $2750|
Help and donate today!
|Needles are scary|
|Pricks against pricks|
“”To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one
|—J. B. Handley, Generation Rescue|
Andrew Wakefield is a disgraced British former physician and medical researcher and is one of the originators of the modern anti-vaccine movement. He is best known for his fraudulent study alleging a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Once the massive methodological and ethical flaws in this paper came to light, The Lancet retracted it.
 MMR-Crohn's Disease Link
In 1993, in similar fashion to the MMR-Autism link, he was working at the liver transplant center at Royal Free Hospital, when he
hallucinated observed a link between measles and Crohn's disease and then did LSD research on a link between the MMR vaccine and Crohn's disease. He then published his drug induced hallucinations research in the Journal of Medical Virology.  Other reasearchers have failed to reproduce his results, so the research is generally discounted by most physicians. 
 The Lancet study
In 1998, Wakefield wrote a paper (co-authored by 12 other scientists) on a dozen children with autistic spectrum disorders who had been admitted for bowel problems. According to the paper, eight of the children developed both irritable bowel syndrome and behavioral regression within 14 days of receiving the MMR shot. This suggested a link between the vaccination and the regression. Although he never specifically claimed that MMR caused autism in these cases, he did campaign for the triple-dose to be discontinued until it could be further studied, saying "I can't support the continued use of these three vaccines given in combination until this issue has been resolved." His stance at the time was similar to the "Too Many, Too Soon" refrain currently popular among anti-vaccine advocates.
 Conflicts of interest
By 2004, new allegations were surfacing that called Wakefield's objectivity into question. Investigative journalist Brian Deer uncovered evidence that suggested that Wakefield was receiving money from trial lawyers while he was writing his study. Given that the study set off several lawsuits, this indicated a serious (and undisclosed) conflict of interest.
 The study collapses
Of course, just because Wakefield behaved unethically doesn't necessarily mean that the study was false. While the study was always suspect due to its tiny sample size and lack of good follow-up studies, evidence that it was outright false did not surface until 2009. An investigation into the study revealed that some of the information that Wakefield used was different from the information found in the medical records of the subjects. While Wakefield had claimed that the behavioral regression had started within 14 days of vaccination, the actual records indicated that this was not true for most of the children, and some of them had already shown signs of regression before receiving the shot.
 The GMC strikes Wakefield off
In 2007, the General Medical Council began investigations into Wakefield's conduct. Among the charges against Wakefield were allegations that he paid for subjects and lab specimens (notably an incident where he obtained blood samples from children at his son's birthday party) and that he ordered unnecessary and painful procedures for children whose symptoms did not warrant them. In 2010, the disciplinary committee ruled that Wakefield had deliberately misled his patients and ignored their personal interests in favor of his own. Wakefield was struck off the British medical register and is no longer allowed to practice medicine in Britain (or presumably anywhere else).
Wakefield still commonly claims the title "Dr." (his degree has not been withdrawn by Imperial College) and the initials "FRCS" (Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons). The latter is something he is not entitled to — he stopped paying his membership dues in July 1996 (before the famous paper) and so has not been a FRCS since that date.
Wakefield moved to Texas and in 2005 started "Thoughtful House," which claims to be able to treat autism spectrum disorder. After Wakefield's highly public defrocking he stepped down from the head of Thoughtful House and moved on to start the Strategic Autism Initiative, which at the moment appears to be little more than a fund raising shell.
 Hear the Silence of the Children that are Dying Because of Me
In 2003, the UK TV network Five aired Hear the Silence, a drama based on the Wakefield saga, with Wakefield being played by Hugh Bonneville. Film critic Mark Lawson said that Wakefield and his position on MMR had been portrayed very sympathetically:
“”Hear the Silence clearly wants to be an English Erin Brockovich and — in watchability and performances — it is. But Brockovich's case had been tested in court, and it's a rather different matter to give the weight of handsome actors and slanted drama to a heavily contested article in The Lancet.
Following the broadcast on Five, there was an on-air panel discussion about the production and the issues of MMR and Wakefield. A number of autism and vaccination experts who were invited to appear turned down the offer.
In early 2011, the BMJ (the direct competitor to The Lancet, it should be noted) published an article in which it was proved that Wakefield's findings weren't based on mistakes and sloppy data, but rather on fraud. The paper begins with the damning sentence:
“”Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare.
It goes on to say:
“”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.
Unfortunately, even in the face of this overwhelming evidence, at least two idiots are determined to press on with their claims of a link between the vaccine and autism.
 Current activities
Wakefield's medical ambitions having been stifled, he is now appearing as a speaker at conspiracy crank events, as well as being the patron saint of anti-vaxxers everywhere. He appears at the hellhole known as Autism One where parents learn to torture their poor autistic kids using chelation, bleach, detox, chemical castration, and pretty much every single autism biomed woo in the world. His influence over anti-vaxxers still holds to this day even through over 100 studies disprove the link between autism and vaccines. Some people even go so far as to call the antivaccine movement a cult which is an understatement.
In January 2012, Wakefield filed a defamation suit against Brian Deer, the British Medical Journal and the BMJ's editor Fiona Godlee personally. The BMJ Group has noted that they stand by their article (and pointedly call him "Mr. Wakefield" throughout the press release to this effect). This suit was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.
In 2016, the film Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe was announced to be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The film was directed and co-written by Wakefield. Actor Robert De Niro, one of the festival's founders, initially defended the screening of the film, stating, "We believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined." However, days later he back flipped on permitting the screening and pulled it, saying that "My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for."
 Relationship with "Big Pharma"
Many anti-vaxxers like to claim that there is a Big Pharma conspiracy to discredit Wakefield. However, in reality there is good evidence that "Big Pharma" was actually funding him until it became clear that his "research" and claims were questionable. "Deer has uncovered evidence showing that until questions arose about the validity of his research, Wakefield actually had support from such drug-industry giants as Johnson & Johnson, Merck and SmithKline Beecham. And, on at least one occasion, Axcan Pharma Inc. paid for his first-class trans-Atlantic airfare."
 See also
- Jenny McCarthy - she wrote the foreword to his autobiography.
- Brian Deer's website - contains a full account of Deer's investigation into Wakefield and the Lancet study
- The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield - A comic book-style account of Wakefield's history
- Report of Wakefield's attendance at May's anti-vax rally in Chicago, Bad Astronomy blog
- ↑ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/24/magazine/mag-24Autism-t.html
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 MMR row doctor Andrew Wakefield struck off register: Doctor at centre of MMR scare struck off medical register by General Medical Council for serious professional misconduct by James Meikle & Sarah Boseley (Monday 24 May 2010 07.25 EDT) The Guardian.
- ↑ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21917556
- ↑ Wakefield AJ, Pittilo RM, Sim R (April 1993). "Evidence of persistent measles virus infection in Crohn's disease". J. Med. Virol. 39 (4): 345–53. PMID 8492105. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmv.1890390415/abstract.
- ↑ Siva, Nayanah (2 June 2010). "Wakefield's First Try". Slate.com. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2010/06/wakefields_first_try.2.html. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- ↑ RETRACTED: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children — The Lancet, 28 February 1998
- ↑ Nailed: Dr Andrew Wakefield and the MMR vaccine fraud — Brian Deer
- ↑ See here, for example
- ↑ Revealed: MMR Research Scandal — The Sunday Times, February 22 2004.
- ↑ British doctor who kicked-off vaccines-autism scare may have lied, newspaper says, Los Angeles Times, February 9 2009
- ↑ Retraction—Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children — 2 February 2010
- ↑ MMR scare doctor 'paid children', BBC News, 16 July 2007
- ↑ MMR-row doctor failed in his duties, Yorkshire Evening Post, 28 January 2010
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 DR. ANDREW J. WAKEFIELD, MB., B., FRCS V. THE BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL, a d/b/a of BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP LTD, also d/b/a BMJ GROUP, and BMJ, BRIAN DEER, individually, and DR. FIONA GODLEE, individually.
- ↑ You can check if someone is a FRCS here
- ↑ For those not in the know, Bonneville also played Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey.
- ↑ Saint Mum, Saint Doctor and the evil MMR
- ↑ Michael Fitzpatrick, Hear the Silence
- ↑ Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent, BMJ 2011; 342:c7452
- ↑ A Statement from Jenny McCarthy & Jim Carrey: Andrew Wakefield, Scientific Censorship, and Fourteen Monkeys
- ↑ One such anti-vaxxer.
- ↑ The Crash and Burn of an Autism Guru
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2012/05/27/nobel-laureate-joins-anti-vaccination-crowd-at-autism-one/#360a72943cc7
- ↑ http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2015/05/19/autism-one-as-quacky-as-it-ever-was/
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/autismone-the-yearly-autism-antivaccine-quackfest-begins/
- ↑ http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/06/11/miracle-mineral-solution-mms-and-autism-apologists-strike-back/
- ↑ http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/yes-autism-rate-rising-vaccines-caused-vaccines/
- ↑ http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/misinformation-lies-distortions-memes-anti-vaccine-lunacy/
- ↑ http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/i-grew-up-in-an-anti-vaccine-cult/
- ↑ Andrew Wakefield’s libel suit against Brian Deer: Dismissed! Respectful Insolence
- ↑ Robert De Niro Defends Screening of Anti-Vaccine Film at Tribeca Festival by Pam Belluck and Melena Ryzik (March 25, 2016) New York Times.
- ↑ Statement from Robert De Niro regarding the screening of VAXXED.
- ↑ De Niro’s Tribeca festival pulls antivaccination film Associated Press, Updated 5:27 pm, Sunday, March 27, 2016.
- ↑ http://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2011/01/doctor-had-strong-financial-motives-launching-mmr-autism-scare-investigative-