Friday, June 11, 2010

Win For Autism Community: Andrew Wakefield Lost License

This is a Very Big Deal and it's excellent, excellent news for the Autism Community as well as for the medical community in regard to vaccinations.  He's such a disgusting excuse for a human being that I can't even call him a "doctor."  That's how despicable this douche bag is.  The damage this scumbag did to vaccinations is going to be felt for a long time to come.  This is sort of a follow up on my last entry in which I posted about Andrew Wakefield's article in The Lancet being officially discredited and officially retracted, titled Autism And Vaccine Link Discredited Officially.

Well, I know I'm several days behind on this, but Andrew Wakefield's right to practice medicine has been revoked.  He no longer has a medical license.  Maybe now, the people who have been so supportive of him will begin to understand the damage he had done. 

Well, here's a recap if you don't want to go read my original post on this pig.  He knowingly falsely connected the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella combined into one vaccination) with Autism.  In doing so, he damaged the Autism community and vaccinations for millions of people, causing needless worry and guilt to parents who were convinced that they caused their children's autism.  He managed to convince other doctors who didn't know much about autism to back his research, which they didn't know he had faked.  

But this isn't even the worst of what he did.  Andrew Wakefield apparently simply wanted fame at all costs. He wanted to link MMR to something so badly in order to be seen as a ground-breaking researcher and doctor that he first tried to "link"  MMR with causing Crohn's disease.  His peers rejected such an idea, so since that didn't work he moved on to faking a link to Autism. 

The more that comes out about this unethical dirtbag the more I actually physically hate him. He wasn't "on to something." He never was.  He FAKED RESULTS and the little "research" he did was unethical and unsafe to children.  Children.  He did more harm to children physically than the MMR vaccine can be blamed on.  

Now, that's not to say that the MMR vaccine doesn't have it's own issues.  There are people who do question whether three vaccinations mixed into one is really a good idea.  If a child has an allergic reaction to the MMR, it's unknown as to which vaccination in the cocktail is causing the reaction and any future boosters have to then be given individually and can't be done in an MMR again.  That's easy enough to space out with regular well-child visits, though, in an adjusted schedule.  And any adjustments and concerns should be taken up with your pediatrician.  Talk to your pediatrician or family practitioner.  Above all, it's a very good idea to talk to your child's doctor about the fact that Andrew Wakefield has been completely discredited and had his license revoked.  Many doctors are up to date on this sort of thing, but some need to be pointed in the right direction to check it out for themselves.  

Oh, and one more thing.  Jenny McCarthy.  She was a HUGE supporter of this nutjob, but that shouldn't be a shocker with her being a nutjob herself. I've always felt this way ever since she claimed she cured what she thinks was her son's autism.  I'm thrilled for her son, that he doesn't have the symptoms of autism any longer, but on the other hand that means that he never had autism in the first place.  The fact that she's trying to convince people that diet will cure autism is dangerous.  But that's for another post.  She's brought up in the article I'm about to share, though, so I feel the need to bring up just how important it is that this woman can't be trusted on anything she has to say about autism or autism "cures." 

Anyway, enough of my ranting.  Here's an article about A.W. having his license yanked.  Oh, happy day! I hope he's imprisoned for what he's done.

Wakefield's First Try

Before the disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield said that the MMR vaccine caused autism, he thought that it led to Crohn's disease.

By Nayanah SivaPosted Wednesday, June 2, 2010, at 12:32 PM ET

Andrew Wakefield. Click image to expand.Andrew WakefieldLast week, Andrew Wakefield, the man who is associated with proposing the highly controversial link between the MMR vaccine and autism, was struck off the U.K. medical register—essentially, he lost his license. The author of the infamous 1998 Lancet paper retracted earlier this year by the publication, Wakefield is also known for his inappropriate attempts to prove his hypothesis: At one time, he even bragged about subjecting children at his son's birthday party to blood tests and paying them 5 pounds a pop. He is also said to have conducted other invasive procedures on children that he wasn't qualified to perform, without proper ethical approval. The General Medical Council said that he had "callous disregard for the distress and pain the children might suffer."

Over the last decade, Wakefield has been named a hero by several autism groups and endorsed by former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy. But rather than making him a pariah, last week's decision seems only to serve as further fuel for him to plug his conspiracy stories as he travels around the United States promoting his new book Callous Disregard. The man is said to be responsible for a sharp reduction in the number of children being inoculated for MMR, allowing the number of measles cases in the United Kingdom to soar to more than 1,300 in 2008, compared with 56 in 1998. It is deeply troubling that Wakefield's new book rocketed into Amazon's list of best-selling parenting titles.

But although it made him famous, the MMR-autism link was not Wakefield's first attempt to connect the vaccine with chronic health problems. Since 1989, he has tried desperately to convince the world of several theories involving the measles virus, measles vaccine, and the MMR vaccine—all of which have now been scientifically disproven.

So where did it all begin? After qualifying from St. Mary's Hospital at the University of London in 1981, Wakefield specialized in surgery and worked in intestine transplant surgery for a few years. However, he decided to move into research and focused on Crohn's disease, a chronic and severe inflammatory disorder of the bowel. Its cause remains a mystery, but in the late 1980s, Wakefield announced he had discovered that the root of Crohn's disease was the measles virus.

In 1993, in a paper published in the Journal of Medical Virology, Wakefield said that his analysis showed that 13 out of 15 histological intestinal tissue samples from patients with Crohn's were positive for the RNA of the measles virus. From this he proposed that the measles virus may have caused Crohn's in those patients. Wakefield continued to publish papers to this effect in the Lancet and elsewhere. By 1995, his claims had evolved. He now argued that the measles virus and measles vaccinations were associated with not only Crohn's but also ulcerative colitis, another serious and chronic inflammatory disease of the large intestine and rectum.

Karel Geboes, a professor in pathology from Belgium, was never convinced by the strength of Wakefield's studies in this field and said that he "over-interpreted" his findings: "He is not a pathologist but a surgeon. … His claim was too rigorous, and there was no real proof for the hypothesis. It is not enough to find viral material—there are plenty of studies showing the presence of microorganisms." Finding microorganisms doesn't mean that they caused the disease in question.

Meanwhile, Wakefield seemed to have become a regular at the patent office. In 1996, he filed for a patent for a method of diagnosing Crohn's or ulcerative colitis by detection of the measles virus—and he applied for the patent under his home address rather than his institute's address. That is just "bizarre behavior," says Tom MacDonald, dean of research and professor of immunology at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

A year later he would patent a "safer" measles vaccine; though this was just a year before his MMR-autism paper was published in the Lancet, he did not declare this patent in his conflicts of interest to the editors of the publication. By this point, Wakefield had begun to propose that the MMR vaccine and its three virus strains put pressure on the body's immune system, which resulted in the development of Crohn's or ulcerative colitis. If the Department of Health listened to him and took MMR off the shelves, his new patent and vaccine could have been very profitable.

Wakefield kept quite busy in addition to his studies on Crohn's. In two decades, his work has been published in gastroenterology, rheumatology virology, dermatology, and urology journals. His studies included ferret, pig, and rat models. He conducted biotechnology studies, liver studies, and even looked at the effects of smoking and the contraceptive pill on Crohn's disease; an unusual array of work for one researcher. Wakefield was desperately trying to make his name in research, and it didn't seem to matter what field it was in.

But more and more research groups, with more sophisticated techniques, failed to confirm Wakefield's findings. In 1998, the chief medical officer from the U.K. Department of Health and a group of experts reviewed Wakefield's studies and concluded that the there was no support for a causal role for the measles virus infection in Crohn's disease. Furthermore, they found that there was no link between the MMR vaccine and bowel disease. In 2000, the U.K. Medical Research Council also conducted a review and came to the same conclusion, as did a Japanese research group: "We failed to detect any measles virus genome or measles virus antigen in gut tissue from patients with [inflammatory bowel disease]," the authors stated. So Wakefield abandoned his initial theory on Crohn's disease and measles.

In 1996, just as Wakefield began to get hit with fierce criticism about his Crohn's claims—culminating in a British TV program called The Big Story—along came a solicitor, Richard Barr, who was representing parents who believed that their children had been harmed by the MMR vaccine. Investigations by journalist Brian Deer in the Sunday Times questioned Wakefield's conflicts of interest in the Lancet study, and he reported that Barr was desperately looking for some scientific basis for claims that the MMR vaccine caused a wide range of adverse effects, including bowel and developmental disorders. It later transpired in the General Medical Council hearing, as Deer had previously reported, that Barr had paid Wakefield nearly 450,000 pounds with money from the U.K. legal aid fund to conduct his 1998 Lancet study, all financial conflicts that he never declared to the Lancet.

His failure to establish a link between the vaccine and Crohn's link did not teach Wakefield to think smaller: Soon after meeting Barr, his ideas became bigger and more complicated, and he had now "discovered" a new link between the MMR shot and autism.

Michael Fitzpatrick, a general practioner who is the father of a boy with autism as well as the author of MMR and Autism: What Parents Need To Know, explains Wakefield's new four-stage theory: 1) The measles virus or vaccine caused persistent infection, which became localised in the bowel; 2) the patient went on to develop inflammatory bowel disease, which resulted in a leaky bowel; 3) the leaky bowel allowed toxic peptides to get into the bloodstream, 4) which reached the brain and resulted in autism. Wakefield even went on to announce a "new" disorder associated with the MMR vaccine. He labeled it "autistic enterocolitis"—but it is still not recognized in the gastroenterology field.

Sadly, despite scientific evidence, some parents of autistic children still hang onto Wakefield's every word and will continue to support him. "Led by the pharmaceutical companies and their well-compensated spokespeople, Dr. Wakefield is being vilified through a well-orchestrated smear campaign," Jenny McCarthy claimed when the Lancet withdrew the MMR-autism study. Wakefield seemed to think that people who did not accept his theories had a personal vendetta against him. "This was a recurrent feature of Wakefield's approach to research," said Fitzpatrick. "He could not accept evidence that contradicted his hypothesis, which became a conviction sustained by faith in face of the evidence."

But why did the autism idea stick when the Crohn's theory never did? Tom MacDonald notes that autism is very difficult to study, while Crohn's researchers can actively take samples, and patients are available for assessment. "However," he says, "no one can get into the gut of autistic kids because it is unethical."

It looks like Wakefield has found his key audience and supporters in the United States, where he is now based. As he continues to tour the United States, telling parents that "the scientific system has failed you," real scientists will continue to endeavour to use appropriate research methods to try and find the cause or causes of autism.

"Once a crook," Ingvar Bjarnason, professor of digestive diseases and consultant physician at King's College Hospital, says of Wakefield, "always a crook."

No comments: