The awful autism obsession of the antivaccinationist

On page 11 of the most recent Health Care Complaints Commission investigation into the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network, we see the absurdity of vaccines causing autism rearing its head.

The AVSN claim to present on their website 68 “medical journal studies [that] support the link between vaccination and autism”. According to the HCCC the expert they consulted concluded a case of correlation confused as causation was evident. A read of the list shows the expert is being kind in no small part. Given that the AVSN claim these studies show a link between vaccines and autism, the list is quite absurd.

Despite the absence of mercury in childhood vaccines we get much on environmental mercury and autism, ADHD and blood mercury levels, swollen brains and autism, etc. But we have a numeric problem Houston. Of the 68 (cough) articles, I could count just 30 that included the word “vaccine” or “vaccination” in the title, abstract or conclusion. But maybe I’m expecting too much. Articles are numbered but items 5, 12, 48, 49 and 68 don’t exist. At all.

The AVSN use the typical misinformation that succeeds at confusing young worried parents and educated, affluent parents who can afford lots of Internet time. Such as citing the damage huge doses of certain toxins or heavy metals can do, without stressing vaccines contain either another variant or minuscule amounts long shown to be perfectly safe. Since having changed their byline from Love them, Protect them, Never inject them to Because every issue has two sides, they have done a poor job of presenting both sides.

The AVSN for example do not provide access to the Institute Of Medicine publication, Adverse Effects Of Vaccines; Evidence and Causality. This has been pointed out by the HCCC along with a host of biased schemes the AVSN execute in the hope of driving the public away from vaccination. In addition the hubris-riddled response that has been crafted for the HCCC and published online, is indicative of a mindset with no concept of community responsibility.

Myths and concerns about vaccination note on page 29 under “Mercury in vaccines can cause autism”:

There is no evidence that thiomersal (a mercury based preservative) in vaccines has caused any health problems, except perhaps minor reactions such as redness at the injection site. [...] The form of organic mercury contained within thiomersal is “ethyl mercury” which doesn’t accumulate in the body, unlike the closely related methyl mercury which does accumulate and is neurotoxic. [...] MMR vaccine and other live attenuated viral vaccines never contained thiomersal.

Of course there is a dollar to be made insisting vaccines cause autism and other disabilities. As reported recently by Fairfax:

The Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing has confirmed it is investigating ”problems” in the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network’s financial statements.
The anti-vaccine group has raised nearly $2 million in the past seven years but has never done any ”charity”, according to Stop the AVN, a coalition of critics formed after the parents of a baby who died of whooping cough were targeted by the network. [...]

The 2008 financial statement said the group had more than $50,500 of assets, yet in its 2009 statement, assets from 2008 are listed as only about half that amount.
And nearly two-thirds of $281,855 in expenses listed on its 2010 financial statements are not explained, given only the title ”other expenses”. The 2012 statement for the group has not been submitted.
A chartered accountant who examined the documents for Fairfax Media, but declined to be named for fear he would be harassed, said the documents were ”the worst set of financial statements I have ever seen”.

$2 million! And where is that money? Well, you see… no-one really knows. A visit to this document reveals a copious tally of financial irregularities and charitable breaches by the (then) AVN. Both the Charitable Fundraising and Charitable Trusts Acts are called into question, “on a number of occasions” according to the NSW state watchdog, the OLGR.

Published just recently at Diluted Thinking the article, AVSN Pays Meryl Dorey is a must read. It is a thorough breakdown of financial irregularities and unanswered questions from 2004 to 2008.

It is of course beyond ironic that a hero of the AVSN is disgraced “vaccine/autism” fraudster, Andrew Wakefield. It’s old news that Brian Deer was able to track Andrew Wakefield’s scam because the latter had left a trail of intriguing financial records and/or references.

Follow the money was what Deer did in true investigative journalistic style. It is indeed somewhat silly that the anti-vaccine lobby today bellow follow the money, but in doing so can draw only one step from a vaccine to its manufacturer. The money trail Deer uncovered was far more impressive.

Wakefield was paid £150 plus expenses per hour by Richard Barr’s law firm. In total this came to £435 643, which was arguably to create a syndrome to drive the class action of anti-vaccine and genuinely misled (by Wakefield) litigants.

But Wakefield needed to ensure he profited from all the sufferers of his syndrome. Once the world had been fooled into believing “autistic enterocolitis” was a genuine syndrome, then it would have to be diagnosed. First he filed for his March 1995 Diagnostic patent that claimed in part:

Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may be diagnosed by detecting measles virus in bowel tissue, bowel products or body fluids

Based on this, on September 9th 1996 a client of Richard Barr known as Child 2 was the first child subject to what the GMC later described as a “clinically unwarranted” ileocolonoscopy.

The day after Child 2 had undergone his ileocolonoscopy Wakefield produced a document headed, Inventor/school/investor meeting 1. 4 which calculated that by working on MMR litigant samples, profits of £72.5m per year were to be had. This document left no doubt as to from where the money should be sourced. The profits would go to a yet to be formed company specialising in molecular viral diagnostic tests:

In view of the unique services offered by the Company and its technology, particularly for the molecular diagnostic, the assays can command premium prices. The ability of the Company to commercialise its candidate products depends upon the extent to which reimbursement for the cost of such products will be available from government health administration authorities, private health providers and, in the context of the molecular diagnostic, the Legal Aid Board.

More could be gleaned from a confidential submission (1999) to the Legal Aid board in his quest to secure the future of an immunodiagnostic business he would be director of. Unigenetics Ltd was incorporated in February of that year with Dublin pathologist, John O’Leary and would be registered in the Republic of Ireland. Here Wakefield argued the link b/w MMR and autism had been shown. Unigenetics scored £800 000 of tax payer funds to conduct PCR tests of dubious pursuit.

In addition to these petty “legal costs and salary” monies Wakefield would get another £90 000 per year – more than half of which was for travel. Deer reported that trading was to be fronted by another planned immunodiagnostic company Carmel Healthcare Ltd (also registered in the Irish Republic) and named after Wakefield’s wife. Within this venture Wakefield would take 37% of the earnings, the parent of child “Number 10″ would take 22.2%. A venture capitalist would get 18%. Royal Free’s professor of gastroenterology, Roy Pounder would get 11.7% and Professor John O’Leary another champion of “MMR causes autism” would get 11.1%.

Deer was given a copy of a prospectus 35 pages long.

This included confirmation of planned “litigation driven testing” from the USA and UK, along with delightful profit. Of course all business relied upon Wakefield’s new syndrome which at this point remained to be proven. As he had not found Crohn’s disease in the 12 children, Wakefield coined the term “autistic enterocolitis”. The prospectus sought to raise an investment of £700 000.

It is estimated that the initial market for the diagnostic will be litigation driven testing of patients with autistic enterocolitis from both the UK and the USA… It is estimated that by year 3, income from this testing could be about £3 300 000 rising to about £28 000 000 as diagnostic testing in support of therapeutic regimes come on stream.

[...]

Once the work of Professor O’Leary and Dr Wakefield is published, either late in 1999 or early in 2000, which will provide unequivocal evidence for the presence of the vaccine derived measles virus in biopsy samples the public and political pressure for a thorough, wide ranging investigation into the aetiology of the bowel conditions will be overwhelming.

As a consequence of the public, political and legal pressures brought to bear, the demand for a diagnostic able to discriminate between wild type and vaccine derived measles strains will be enormous.

Deer reported on yet another new company which was for the running of a joint business with the UCL medical school. Immunospecifics Biotechnologies Ltd would produce immunotherapeutics, vaccines and a diagnostic test. Beneficiaries were as with Carmel. Wakefield, the parent of “number 10″, the venture capatilist, Pounder and Prof. John O’Leary.

There are issues around Wakefield’s immunodiagnostics which antivaccinationists should simply admit, and by not admitting such merely lend their cause less credence (if that were possible).

  • Transfer factor for use in vaccines and treatments had basically been written out of the literature. A lack of evidence, risk of infection and unjustified cost had relegated this 1940’s blood product to the realm of an Internet peddled cure-all scam.
  • The Neuro Immuno Therapeutics drama run by Hugh Fudenberg. To cure autism – which he reckons is caused by MMR – Hugh would use, you guessed it, Transfer factor. In August 2004 Brian Deer caught up with him. At the time he was under sanction for use and prescription of controlled drugs. Help yourself to a search-and-read on Hugh. If you remember Bill Maher’s claim that a flu shot five years consecutively equals a ten-fold increase in the chances of developing Alzheimers, you might be relieved to know that the source is Hugh Fudenberg.
  • The Dublin measles tests which could not deliver consistency of results, emerged as a problem years later, during vaccine related lawsuits in the USA and Britain.

One caper of Wakefields that many know of is his “safer vaccine” patent for a monovalent measles vaccine. As the Royal Free Hospital approached the release of his paper Wakefield made copies on tape as to how he should announce his bogus findings. One – which is in circulation today – includes:

There is sufficient anxiety in my own mind for the long term safety of the polyvalent vaccine—that is, the MMR vaccination in combination—that I think it should be suspended in favour of the single vaccines

But of course! Just as well that like the patent for immunodiagnostics he had the “safer vaccine” patent for the single measles vaccine. And he filed for this nine months before his now retracted paper was published.

Wakefield patent

The opening paragraph is breathtaking:

The present invention relates to a new vaccine for the elimination of MMR and measles virus and to a pharmaceutical or therapeutic composition for the treatment of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease); particularly Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis and Regressive Behavioural Disease (RBD).

After falsely claiming MMR vaccination leads to Crohn’s disease and other forms of IBD we read on page two (far right) above (bold mine):

What is needed therefore is a safer vaccine which does not give rise to these problems and a treatment for those with existing IBD. I have now discovered a combined vaccine/therapeutic agent which is not only most probably safer to administer to neonates and others by way of vaccination, but which also can be used to treat IBD whether as a complete cure or to alleviate symptoms.

This was first revealed in the UK Sunday Times. Wakefield denied this “conspiracy”:

The claim appears to be that, whilst at the Royal Free Hospital, I was developing a new vaccine to compete with MMR and that I conspired to undermine confidence in MMR vaccine in order to promote this new vaccine, and that this represented a conflict of interest. This is untrue. The facts are that: [...]

it has never been my aim or intention to design, produce or promote a vaccine to compete with MMR; [...]

A provisional patent filing was made for the use of measles virus-specific TF in regressive autism and inflammatory bowel disease (Regressive Bowel Disease; RBD).

The reference to the possible use of TF to protect children against measles infection – the thrust of the Sunday Times’ conspiracy theory – was put in as an afterthought in the patent. It was entirely speculative and never pursued in any shape, manner or form.

The provisional patent filing was entirely speculative and was for a possible therapy; as such, it had no bearing on the 1998 Lancet paper.

That the patent application with its firm conclusion of an MMR derived pathology appeared nine months before publication of his paper is not the only Crystal Ball caper by Wakefield. A fortnight before selecting any children that eventually made up his insignificant 12 child sample, Wakefield and Richard Barr co-authored a letter that included (bold mine):

Children with enteritis and disintegrative disorder, form part of a new syndrome. The evidence is undeniably in favour of a specific vaccine induced pathology

That claim would have taken the word of Hugh Fudenberg at that particular time in history.

The end for Wakefield came just after plans for Carmel Healthcare were finalised, potentially making way for his incredibly profitable business. A new head of medicine, Mark Pepys was appointed to the UCL Medical School (once known as the Royal Free and University College Medical School). He is a fellow of the Royal Society and ensured impressive grant money. He wasn’t impressed by Wakefield, threatening to not transfer his own unit to UCL if Wakefield was even there.

With the help of theoretical physicist Chris Llewellyn-Smith he made his move in December 1999. A mere two months after Pepys moved to the Royal Free Wakefield was called to UCL’s London head offices. There, at last, he was made to face the audacity of his scam and handed a two page letter of his very own to have and to hold and of course, to read. It included:

We remain concerned about a possible serious conflict of interest between your academic employment by UCL, and your involvement with Carmel. This concern arose originally because the company’s business plan appears to depend on premature, scientifically unjustified publication of results, which do not conform to the rigorous academic and scientific standards that are generally expected. [...]

Good scientific practice now demands that you and others seek to confirm or refute robustly, reliably, and above all reproducibly, the possible causal relationships between MMR vaccination and autism/“autistic enterocolitis”/inflammatory bowel disease that you have postulated.

Yay verily.

UCL were keen to help, offering him an ongoing position on staff or a full twelve months paid absence to allow for further research. 150 subjects would be provided to Wakefield. 12.5 times larger than his initial sample. Wakefield agreed.

Time passed.

After three months he was asked for a progress report. Six months later in September 2000 Wakefield replied:

It is clear that academic freedom is essential, and cannot be traded. It is the unanimous decision of my collaborators and co-workers that it is only appropriate that we define our research objectives, we enact the studies as appropriately reviewed and approved, and we decide as and when we deem the work suitable for submission for peer review.

Fail. By October of 2001 he was asked not to let the door hit his lying backside on the way out. In January of 2010 the General Medical Council found Wakefield had been “dishonest, irresponsibile and showed callous disregard for the distress and pain of children.”  [Science Based Medicine]

After close to a decade of multiple studies had failed to replicate his “findings” or any link between MMR, its components and autism the Lancet retracted the Wakefield paper [Science Based Medicine] [BMJ] on February 2nd 2010. The journal’s editor, Richard Horton described the statements in the “fatally flawed” paper as “utterly false”.

On May 25th of that year he was struck off the medical registrar by the General Medical Council.

Still today, as is clear above, there are scam artists profitting from peddling the lie that vaccines cause autism. Their paper-thin efforts may well be pathetic but still have a measurably negative effect on public health. With no regard for evidence or responsibility for the consequences of their actions, one can hope that these arrogant fraudsters will one day too face the weight of the law.

Yay verily.

Andrew Wakefield had only one aim: to make money

Recently there’s been some unusual defence of Andrew Wakefield.

He never wrote a paper claiming vaccines cause autism, offered fans of Meryl Dorey at Woodford. The rationale? To drive home that vaccines do cause autism. You see, the shorthand misconception of Wakefield supporters is that he was found guilty of fraud in publishing a “vaccines cause autism” paper.

It isn’t quite that simple, and through what can only be described as a combination of ignorance and stupidity these blinkered fans now seek to capitalise on their own confusion.

A five member General Medical Council panel found Wakefield guilty of over 30 charges including 12 of causing children to endure “clinically unjustified” invasive testing procedures, buying blood at children’s birthday parties and managing four counts of dishonesty. Then, his “continued lack of insight” into his conduct, and consequences thereof, meant that only “total erasure” from the medical register was warranted.

In short he was an unprofessional crook, guilty of self serving and callous conduct with no insight into the damage he did or the ongoing harm he was causing.

Dorey’s fans insist Brian Deer stitched up Wakefield because Wakefield’s paper includes:

We did not prove an association between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described

So. The reasoning in the mind of a Dorey fan is:

  1. Wakefield did not claim a link to autism, therefore the charge of fraud is wrong.
  2. If the charge of fraud is wrong, then claiming that vaccines cause autism is not fraudulent.
  3. Due to 2 above, then the claim “vaccines cause autism” is factual.
  4. Andrew Wakefield is thus doubly correct in that he never committed fraud, but when he was accused of promoting a fraudulent link to autism, due to 2 above he was “set up”.
  5. Vaccines thus cause autism.

Yet Wakefield did commit fraud in an attempt to manufacture his “autistic entercolitis” (AE), in tampering with histopathology results and in attempting to set up his grand financial empire

Not only would success in creating AE drive class action suits in the USA and the UK, the non-existent syndrome would make Wakefield a pot of gold. Proper diagnoses would be needed. At the expense of pharmaceutical companies, complex immunodiagnostics would be ordered by lawyers acting for the families of those stricken with AE.

Let’s follow the money….

Wakefield was paid £435 643 by Richard Barr’s law firm to create a syndrome to drive class action of anti-vaccination litigants. This was no fluke. In the 1990’s vaccine injury was shaping to be the big one for injury compensation lawyers. In 1996 Richard Barr was already working on his autistic test case – “child 2″. On September 9th the child was subject to what the GMC later found was a “clinically unwarranted” ileocolonoscopy. Although he did not have Crohn’s disease it was assumed he might.

Enter Wakefield’s March 1995 Diagnostic patent that claimed:

Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may be diagnosed by detecting measles virus in bowel tissue, bowel products or body fluids

In a theme we will see later was Wakefield’s true driving force, an accompanying document proposed setting up a diagnostic company. Wakefield’s scheme suggested that molecular viral diagnostic tests run for clients in the USA and the UK would yield big bucks. In fact it would yield £72.5m per year. The document was an unbridled embellishment of Wakefield’s patented scam and included:

In view of the unique services offered by the Company and its technology, particularly for the molecular diagnostic, the assays can command premium prices [...]

The ability of the Company to commercialise its candidate products,” the draft plan continued, “depends upon the extent to which reimbursement for the cost of such products will be available from government health administration authorities, private health providers and, in the context of the molecular diagnostic, the Legal Aid Board.

Despite being paid £150 plus expenses per hour since January 1996 and the reality “child 2″ had been enrolled with Barr’s firm for seven months, Wakefield was after Legal Aid.

Here’s where Meryl Dorey’s new breed of Wakefield defenders fail to make first base. Two weeks before selecting his 1st subject for the 12 child study Wakefield co-authored with Richard Barr a letter that included:

Children with enteritis and disintegrative disorder, form part of a new syndrome. The evidence is undeniably in favour of a specific vaccine induced pathology

Nine months before publishing his paper Wakefield had filed for monovalent vaccine patents. A nice addition to his other patent that placed the measles component of MMR as a diagnostic pointer to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Opening of Wakefield’s vaccine patent submission. See item 15 for reference to his Crohn’s Disease patent

[Image © Brian Deer]

In the lead up to releasing the paper’s results Wakefield made various copies on tape of how he should announce specifics of his “findings”. In one of these proposed announcements Wakefield states:

There is sufficient anxiety in my own mind for the long term safety of the polyvalent vaccine—that is, the MMR vaccination in combination—that I think it should be suspended in favour of the single vaccines

Having agreed to follow through with a press announcement that would reinforce the safety of MMR and stress his small sample of unverified results did – as the paper’s text stated – “not prove an association between [MMR] and the syndrome described”, Wakefield turned renegade. He argued that parents should consider splitting MMR vaccination into measles, mumps and rubella shots, leaving measles under a cloud. This of course, was a bonus for his hoped for impending single shot patent profits.

In a confidential submission (1999) to the Legal Aid board in his quest to set up Unigenetics, he argued the link b/w MMR and autism had been shown. He scored £800 000 of tax payer funds to conduct PCR tests of dubious pursuit. Within this venture – to be set up in the Republic of Ireland – he would take 37% of the earnings, the scheming parent known as “Number 10″ would take 22.2%. A venture capitalist would get 18%. Royal Free’s professor of gastroenterology, Roy Pounder would get 11.7% and Professor John O’Leary another champion of “MMR causes autism” would get 11.1%.

In addition to these petty “legal costs and salary” monies Wakefield would get another £90 000 per year – more than half of which was for travel.

Naming “Carmel Industries” (also registered in the Irish Republic) after his wife, Wakefield came up with a prospectus 35 pages long. It was private and confidential, but his problem with maintaining loyalty was becomming clear.

Wakefield sought to use outmoded and discredited immunodiagnostic methods. “Archaic” would be kind. “Ineffective” would be nice. “Useless” would be kinda nice. This stuff had been written out of practice. Even his most loyal supporters then knew he had no intent of diagnosing and helping children. Only continuing to abuse and profit from them.

The “prospectus” thus went wandering into investigative hands. Wakefield wrote in it:

It is estimated that the initial market for the diagnostic will be litigation driven testing of patients with autistic enterocolitis from both the UK and the USA…”. £700 000 from investors was needed. Mind blowing profits were assured. “It is estimated that by year 3, income from this testing could be about £3 300 000 rising to about £28 000 000 as diagnostic testing in support of therapeutic regimes come on stream.

There was really nothing to diagnose. Count those profits. All from a made up syndrome driving litigation. “Litigation driven testing”. But then how many innocent families would also have been ripped off, lied to and how many others would have used his vaccines?

Of course today we know he forged conclusions from Dr. Amar Dhillon’s intestinal tissue sample grading sheets, to invent Autistic Enterocolitis. Now he is inexplicably trying to plead ignorance, blame Dhillon and thus sue the BMJ with the help of the USA’s version of Australia’s Dr. Brian Martin – “whistleblower” David Lewis.

Walker-Smith’s abuse of very ill children, at the insistence of Wakefield who continually ordered unnecessary tests, cannot be overstated. All of Walker-Smith’s tests – blood, colonoscopies, ileocolonoscopies returned negative results. Dhillon recorded normal findings. Consultant histopathologist Susan Davies also recorded normal intestinal findings. Also struck off the medical register, Walker-Smith was labelled “irresponsible and unethical”.

Paola Domizio, a consultant histopathologist and professor of pathology education at Queen Mary’s College has since claimed to be “astonished” at the normality of the histology findings. So Wakefield now blames Dhillon as the culprit of fraud. Just as he earlier used Walker-Smith’s presentation to “prove” he did not falsify data. Yet even there we can demonstrate Wakefield to have submitted identical material to the Legal Aid Board on 6 June 1996 – 6 1/2 months before Walker-Smith’s presentation.

It was Wakefield. It was always Wakefield. It will always be Wakefield.

Wakefield’s dishonesty and fraud sought to make him filthy rich. From well before the study began he had the “syndrome” laid out. Months before publication he was setting up his patents. Feel free to go through and add up those income totals. Then visit sham blog Child Health Safety and try to make sense of the autism ramblings peppered there.

So Child Health Safety and Dorey’s new Wakefield converts need to be aware. On at least four different occasions Wakefield claimed MMR did cause autism. He particularly did so when prospecting for capital to run his assumed to be obscenely profitable immunodiagnostic businesses, that specialised in a condition – autistic entercolitis – he had fraudulently invented.

Wakefield’s fraud may well have been done on mundane tissue samples. But he played a cunning side game.

That side game was to ensure people believed that MMR actually did cause autism.

Wakefield innocent, Deer lied, Earth flat

The good citizens from The Twilight Zones of teh interwebs keep us reliably informed, in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary, that Wakefield is “innocent”.

Andrew Wakefield is infamous for the fraudulent invention of ileal hyperplasia and non-specific colitis induced by the measles component of MMR. Leaving the bowel damaged and “leaky”, this allowed the escape of opioid peptides into the bloodstream and eventually the brain whereby they caused autism. So infamous, that two words, “Wakefield innocent” are only rivalled in this story by “Deer lied”, yet another commandment from The Twilight Zone.

Yet innocent of exactly what aspect of the raft of calculated, cruel and callous transgressions committed? Or what part of his planning and financial inducements leading up to his academic fraud? The invasive abuse of his small sample and manipulation of data gleaned? The fabricated patient selection criteria, clinical histories, and neuropsychiatric diagnoses? Or how his filing for a patent for a “safer [monovalent] measles vaccine” in June 1997 predicated his surprise (in fact well kept secret) announcement to the press in February 1998 that MMR was a likely cause of autistic disorders?

In general it doesn’t really matter. So distorted has the issue become in almost 14 years that specifics don’t count. In effect “Wakefield innocent” is a vaccine myth with multiple faces. A licence to not vaccinate. It means that all vaccines do horrible damage to children. That they do so due to ghastly toxins with long dastardly names, heavy metals that poison the brain, alien cells and viruses that ravage young bodies, promote disease, drain vitality, bring death and much more.

“Deer lied” is the inescapable binary to this scenario. It signifies his mythical role as a Big Pharma hit man paid a whopping journalists salary with expenses to destroy Wakefield. To keep the truth hidden by governments, pharmaceutical companies and medical establishments. That vaccines are not only unnecessary but experimental, or knowingly useless poison pushed for profit. The conspiracy is all powerful and so encompassing it accommodates any bizarre fantasy. Evidence has no impact.

Today “Wakefield innocent” can also mean all vaccines cause autism and brain damage. That they do not prevent disease. That they are not needed. That today’s children are the sickest of any generation in memory. That vitamins, a few herbs, some homeopathic hanky panky and a connection with the cosmos is all that’s needed to defeat vaccine preventable disease.

The real point is, those defending Wakefield have just as much a predetermined agenda as he did. Facts will not get in their way. The BMJ is “disgraced”, in a “panic” or existing in terror of the day Wakefield is “vindicated”. As Meryl Dorey puts it, “digging a deeper and deeper hole”.

Three weeks after the BMJ published Brian Deer’s How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed, eminent enemy of conventional medicine Mike Adams gushed, Documents emerge proving Dr Andrew Wakefield innocent; BMJ and Brian Deer caught misrepresenting the facts. Really? A Trifecta Mike? Do tell:

Newly-revealed documents show that on December 20th, 1996, a meeting of The Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study Group based at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School featured a presentation by Professor Walker-Smith on seven of the children who would later become part of the group of patients Dr Wakefield wrote about in his 1998 The Lancet paper (which was later retracted by The Lancet) [...]

These documents reveal that the British Medical Journal has been caught in its own fraud for willfully ignoring this evidence, which was presented to it long before its recent publication of Brian Deer’s article calling Dr Wakefield a fraud [...]

[Brian Deer] lied about his identity and entered the home of one of the parents of the autism children. Specifically, he claimed he was working for The Sunday Times even though he was never a Sunday Times employee.

It’s pretty much a direct copy and paste of Wakefield’s own document. That and email correspondence with Fiona Godlee is here in PDF under the amusing Gaia Health heading DR. ANDREW WAKEFIELD WAS RIGHT. BRIAN DEER IS THE LIAR. THERE WAS NO FRAUD. NO HOAX. HERE’S PROOF. Age of Autism, Vaccine Safety First, Child Health Safety…etc, all crowed vindication.

The nonsense about Brian Deer is hearsay from a “letter to The Sunday Times”, seeming to serve no purpose beyond trying to label him a liar. Wakefield himself also alludes to the BMJ not “checking facts”. Yet the actual “proof” strikes me as tenuous. Wakefield confidently writes:

I present evidence that completely negates the allegations that I committed scientific fraud. Brian Deer and Dr. Godlee of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) knew or should have known about the facts set out below before publishing their false allegations. [....]

His [Professor John Walker-Smith's] notes of the presentation continued: “I wish today, to present some preliminary details concerning seven children, all boys, who appear to have entero-colitis and disintegrative disorder, probably autism, following MMR.

Speaking of not checking facts. Deer had already quite arguably dispatched with Wakefield’s chronological innocence in writing How the case was fixed…:

Curiously, however, Wakefield had already identified such a syndrome before the project which would reputedly discover it. “Children with enteritis/disintegrative disorder [an expression he used for bowel inflammation and regressive autism] form part of a new syndrome,” he and Barr explained in a confidential grant application to the UK government’s Legal Aid Board before any of the children were investigated.

And that grant application happened to be submitted 6 1/2 months earlier than Walker-Smith’s presentation. It was:

Proposed protocol and costing proposals for testing a selected number of MR and MMR vaccinated children (and attached specification). Submitted to the Legal Aid Board 6 June 1996. [GMC fitness to practise panel hearing in the case of Wakefield, Walker-Smith and Murch. Day 11.]

We can even get more fussy and note the language used in describing bowel inflammation and autism. Entero-colitis (used by Walker-Smith) is inflammation of the colon and small intestine. Enteritis (used over 6 months earlier by Wakefield) is inflammation of the small intestine. Both use “disintegrative disorder”. Confidentially Wakefield was postulating a “new syndrome” well before Walker-Smith offered “preliminary details”.

Just recently on November 9th this year some new information arose when David Lewis published a letter in the BMJ. Lewis came to review histopathological grading sheets that Wakefield claims were filled out and solely interpreted by co-authors Dr. Amar Dhillon and Dr. Andrew Anthony. This was after Lewis attended, “a vaccine safety conference in Jamaica, where Andrew Wakefield discussed his research”, that was a five star extravaganza paid for by the “vaccine-safety” promoters. Wakefield was the headline act.

Lewis argued in the BMJ that he did:

… not believe that Dr. Wakefield intentionally misinterpreted the grading sheets as evidence of “non-specific colitis”.

So, who is David Lewis? Well for Aussies or anyone familiar with the Australian Vaccination Network and their main academic supporter, Dr. Brian Martin, supervisor of anti-vax conspirator and PhD candidate Judy Wilyman, this is a bit creepy. Lewis is from the US National Whistleblowers Center. Brian Martin is president of Whistleblowers Australia.

Brian Martin wrote the “document” the AVN have used to dismiss the HCCC public health and OLGR charitable status findings as an attack on free speech. He has written on successfully raising dissent against scientific, government and academic consensus. He has also written extensively on challenging the origin of AIDS, going as far in 1998 to link it to the polio vaccine. He denies having any position on vaccination.

Lewis bills himself similarly:

My responsibilities include investigating “institutional research misconduct” in which government, industry, and academic institutions use false allegations of research misconduct to suppress research.

Nature News reports that Lewis claims he was “falsely accused of misconduct after alleging links between human illness and the spreading of sewage sludge”. Either way he was ejected post haste from the EPA. The US National Whistleblowers Center is listed under “Suppression of dissent” Contacts on Brian Martin’s website. Both Dorey and Wakefield have indisputably been shown to cause damage to public health and act illegally. Ironically, Wakefield’s treatment of one whistleblower is available thanks to Brian Deer.

Before publishing Lewis’ article the BMJ had gastroenterologist Ingvar Bjarnason review the material. He claimed there was insufficient evidence to support a new disease, as Wakefield et al. had done. He also notes that “The data are subjective. It’s different to say it’s deliberate falsification”.

The last sentence caused some in The Twilight Zone to go into overdrive. Brian Deer’s Charges Against Wakefield Are False: Documents Analyzed by Outside Expert offers Gaia Health. Who regrettably also adds the somewhat partisan claim:

In the end, as with most things involving conventional medicine, it’s all about money. The lives of children have been sacrificed—and continue to be laid on the altar of Profits and Greed.

Age of Autism also seize upon the few words to suggest the BMJ is crumbling and attack BMJ editor-in-chief Dr Fiona Godlee for “declaring war” on University College London. Rather, Godlee wants a parliamentary investigation. She is quite rightly stressing that UCL, who it’s been alleged used Wakefield’s claims to get money, must finalise their own inquiry having had 8 months to begin. Medical News Today quote Godlee who wrote to UCL:

Continuing failure to get to the bottom of the vaccine scandal raises serious questions about the prevailing culture of our academic institutions and attitudes to the integrity of their output. Given the extent of involvement of senior personnel at the highest level, only an independent inquiry will be credible.

This is not a call to debate whether MMR causes autism. Science has asked that question and answered it. We need to know what happened in this inglorious chapter in medicine. Who did what, and why?

The fact that the grading sheets from Dr. Dhillon show no abnormal pathology raises the question of Wakefield’s falsification of “non-specific colitis” and ileal-lymphoid nodular hyperplasia in autistic children. Wakefield omitted that Ileal-lymphoid nodular hyperplasia was viewed as benign and “normal” in children by gastroenterologists.

His supporters now seem to argue he did not intentionally misrepresent histopathological data. This is strange given the mammoth effort to show that inflammatory disease has been confirmed in the intestines of autistic children, and “in five different countries” according to Wakefield on Age of Autism in April this year. Yet Pediatrics published findings from an expert panel in January 2010 stating no GI disturbance specific to autism had been established.

Wakefield seems content to pick and choose, shaping his innocence in retrospect. The original paper states he “assessed” biopsy specimens. Wakefield claimed two years ago, “Dr Dhillon’s diagnosis formed the basis for what was reported in the Lancet, I played no part in the diagnostic process at all.” Which is also strange given that Dhillon did not report any children as having enterocolitis. Yet Wakefield’s paper argued a finding of “autistic enterocolitis” which formed the basis for the primary submission of lawyers in the failed multi-party MMR lawsuits in Britain.

For colitis to be present epithelial damage must have occurred. But Dhillon recorded nothing of the sort. Deer writes:

No cell counts or clinical diagnoses appear on the forms, and neither Crohn’s disease nor ulcerative colitis was even considered “possible” by Dhillon.

Nor did Dhillon use the term “non-specific colitis”, reported in 11 of the 12 children five of whom were acute. Dhillon’s grading sheets did have a tick box for “non-specific” and from here Wakefield took his cue to claim “non-specific colitis”. Paola Domizio, a consultant histopathologist and professor of pathology education at Queen Mary’s College, London who was “astonished” at the normality of the specimen findings suggests the “non-specific” option allowed Dhillon to note “changes of uncertain significance”.

Walker-Smith conducted blood tests and colonoscopies – both of which showed no pathology. Still in search of abnormality Walker-Smith ordered ileocolonoscopies on these very ill children. The biopsies returned normal findings. All these tests were omitted from the final paper. Only when Wakefield got hold of Dhillon’s grading sheets – which also showed nothing abnormal – did “autistic enterocolitis” emerge.

Consultant histopathologist Susan Davies had documented healthy biopsies which were reported as diseased in a draft paper. After raising concerns about reported “colitis” she deferred to Dhillon after a research “review”. It seems clear that the team was intent on showing this “new condition”. In the case of one 3 year old boy Susan Davies and Amar Dhillon “found mild caecal inflammation, with no abnormality or changes in other biopsies”. When the final paper was published the same boy had the mild inflammation changed to, “Acute caecal cryptitis and chronic non-specific colitis.”

Even had the dodgy data been sound the omission of the fact almost all the children had chronic constipation would have clinical implications. Deer writes:

This omission of constipation was no small matter. It went to the heart of how the paper would be read. Specialists told me that both mild inflammation and prominent lymphoid follicles may be expected to be associated with this sign.

“The increase of colonic lymphoid aggregates found in severely constipated patients may represent a protective mucosal mechanism toward the chronic fecal stasis,” suggests a team of Italian and Swiss researchers, for example, in a study of adults.

But such prosaic observations would not have helped the lawsuits—for which Wakefield was hired before any child was referred, and which in the UK paid him more than £400 000. Five other Royal Free doctors—Davies and Dhillon were not among them—shared more than £100 000 to back him.

If there is one word that does not apply to Andrew Wakefield it is “innocent”. Fiona Godlee estimates at least six more of his reports need independent investigation and the exact role of the other authors must be elucidated.

£400 000 to push along lawsuits against MMR, plus vaccine patents, plus income from treating this new “syndrome” is a lot of reasons for Wakefield to lose his objectivity. Supporters need to snap to and remember this is not about vague interpretation of histology samples.

Labelled dishonest, irresponsible, unethical and showing “callous disregard for the distress and pain of children”, Wakefield was eventually struck from the medical register. “Erased” is the term used. His syndrome was a foregone conclusion. He joked about buying blood from children who vomited and passed out.

His fraudulent paper was retracted by Lancet editor, Richard Horton. Expunged from the evidence base of our species’ medical knowledge library to be a tad dramatic. But not before ten of the thirteen authors had removed their names, stating there was insufficient evidence for an association between MMR and autism whilst also expressing regret over the “major implications for public health”.

Another paper attempting to link thimerosal – he was learning on his feet – with neurological problems was withdrawn from the journal NeuroToxicology. He has never apologised, nor admitted his obvious guilt. He has become a beacon for disturbed and mistaken followers and quickly turned that fact into a huge income, feigning compassion as a seeker of truth. Wakefield can never be “innocent” for his crimes are so multitudinous.

So next time you hear of another anti-vaccine zealot bellowing “Wakefield innocent”, you’re entitled to ask, “Of what exactly?”

Andrew Wakefield and the MMR fraud: Science Betrayed

From the BBC’s Science Betrayed, March 16th 2011. Dr Adam Rutherford does a splendid job of investigating the scandal and ethical breaches that led to the greatest medical and public health related disaster in the post penicillin era.

Recently there’s been a push by anti-vaccination lobbyists and those horrid folk from Age of Autism to argue that the BMJ committed fraud. They have a particular angle on Brian Deer and the entire campaign smacks of revenge borne of a total lack of evidence. Mike Adams is another source of woe begotten opportunism peddling this nonsense. Meryl Dorey is piping their tune in Australia despite originally screaming Wakefield’s disclaimer in his defence: “No association proved with MMR” – something Wakefield sticks to when questioned.

“We never said there is a link to autism”, Meryl Dorey of The Australian Vaccination Network lied as Wakefield’s obliteration became complete. “Just to bowel disorders”. Of course, they quickly changed their tune to line up with the rest of the conspiracy cranks worldwide.

I feel like saying they make me sick. But that’s nonsense. In truth, they make sick children even sicker. What I find truly bizarre is that “anti-vaccination hero” Andrew Wakefield, filed patent for monovalent vaccines nine months before publishing his paper. Just as unethical is monovalent vaccine administrator Dr. Richard Halvorsen, author of The truth about vaccines. He is paid hundreds of dollars per shot. If anybody schemed to push vaccines it is these men.

In The Lancet article, Wakefield et al. wrote, “we did not prove an association between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described”. Yet he wrote a letter with Richard Barr one of the lawyers paying Wakefield, and representing anti-vaccination litigants, before beginning the study. Written on June 6th, 1996 it described a vaccine induced autistic and intestinal disorder. This was over two weeks before selecting the first child to be “studied” as part of The Lancet sample. It included;

Children with enteritis and disintegrative disorder, form part of a new syndrome. The evidence is undeniably in favour of a specific vaccine induced pathology.

Hired by lawyers with a predetermined agenda, inventing a vaccine induced syndrome at the behest of anti-vaccine activists, selecting a sample picked by the lawyers and lobbyists, filing for monovalent vaccine patents well before publishing his work, denying any link in print, suggesting this very same link in a press conference, making plans for a “treatment” centre for his pretend syndrome that he would run…

All to be abandoned by most co-author’s, struck off the medical register as callous and unethical and for his fraudulent “research” to be retracted. There can be no doubt. Andrew Wakefield is a fraud and those seeking to exhume the corpse of this despicable scam have embarked on yet another course of unique child, parent and indeed social abuse.

Although there’s a plethora of articles debunking this awful business, here’s some you may like to read.

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452.full

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5258.full?sid=4d2cb324-6535-4766-8f06-6d398fc84c42

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347.full

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126964.000-mmr-vaccine-not-linked-to-autism-says-us-court.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3315651/MMR-is-not-linked-to-autism-say-Japanese.html

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7076-autism-rises-despite-mmr-ban-in-japan.html

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