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Retracted autism study an 'elaborate fraud,' British journal finds

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by JPV, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. richvank

    richvank Senior Member

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    Hi, all.

    I know Professor Deth personally, and I trust his opinions on this topic. He and his group have done groundbreaking research into autism, and I have found him to be a person of integrity and balanced judgment.

    Best regards,

    Rich
     
  2. Cloud

    Cloud Guest

  3. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

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    The Linking of XMRV to Andrew Wakefield

    Thanks Rosemary for posting Professor Richard Deth's most interesting response. I thought the final paragraph was very accurate, and describes a dynamic that we in the ME/CFS community are dealing with.

    Whether we like it or not, there are parallels between the medical community's response to XMRV, and their response to Andrew Wakefield. And I think a lot of it comes down to the fear of "what if they're right?"

    The recent Forbes article is an example of how efforts are now being made to discredit valid XMRV research by attempting to link it to the controversy surrounding Andrew Wakefield. We as a community may want to close our eyes to this danger, but I think it behooves us all to be vigilant.

    Best, Wayne
     
  4. Rosemary

    Rosemary Senior Member

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    Autism Advocacy Organizations and Parent Groups Support Dr. Andrew Wakefield

    Autism Advocacy Organizations and Parent Groups Support Dr. Andrew Wakefield

    Urging Both Scientists and Journalists to Do More Thorough Research Into Vaccines and Autism

    ATLANTA, Jan. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Last week, an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), written by a freelance newspaper reporter, Brian Deer, created a media firestorm in the United States. In his article, Brian Deer accuses Dr. Andrew Wakefield of deliberate fraud regarding his 1998 case series, which was published in the British journal, The Lancet. Dr. Wakefield reported that the children in his case series were suffering from a novel form of bowel disease and that parents reported a temporal link between the onset of symptoms and receipt of the MMR vaccine. Contrary to what has been reported in the media over the years, Dr. Wakefield never stated that the MMR vaccine caused autism. The full text of the original paper is available at www.generationrescue.org.

    These libelous accusations are based on the flimsiest possible construct. Deer claims fraud on the basis of differences between the case histories in the Lancet study and the children's private medical records which Deer obtained under questionable circumstances. Since the team at the Royal Free Hospital never had access to the children's private medical records, it was impossible for them to know what was in them and, therefore, impossible for them to fraudulently report something different. It is standard practice in medicine for a specialist seeing a new patient to take a new history. Of the parents involved in the original study, none have made any complaint, at any time, against Dr. Wakefield. In the case of the only parent we can confirm Brian Deer actually spoke to, Deer used false pretenses and the alias "Brian Lawrence" to obtain the interview. The parent did not turn over any medical records to him.

    The undersigned autism organizations, representing thousands of parents, are deeply disturbed by this most recent character assassination of Dr. Andrew Wakefield. This is an attempt to discredit a doctor who has been extraordinarily courageous in treating and researching children suffering with both bowel disease and autism. He has paid a high personal price for his refusal to walk away from children who are suffering and has earned the utmost respect from the families of these children. We believe this is an industry-driven attempt to shift public attention away from legitimate concerns about vaccine reactions and the development of autism. Science, even controversial findings, should not be distorted by fear or greed.

    The truth in this story is that Dr. Wakefield's findings of bowel disease in association with autism have been replicated (see references) and his work along with that of other doctors has advanced the treatment of these children to the point that the journal, Pediatrics, has published a paper on the treatment for gastrointestinal symptoms in children with autism. The issue of whether MMR is causal for this subgroup of autistic children remains an open question. The epidemiological studies that claim to prove there is no link between the MMR and autism have not had the statistical power to rule out a link for a subset of susceptible children. Much study remains to be done. Attempts to "shoot the messenger" will only result in further erosion of public trust.

    Parents of children with autism encourage the media to dig deeper and provide comprehensive investigations and balanced reporting. For more information or to schedule an interview please contact Rebecca Estepp, rebecca.estepp@gmail.com, 858-829-6454.

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-rele...ps-support-dr-andrew-wakefield-113355509.html
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Acting CEO

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    "The medical establishment shielded Andrew Wakefield from fraud claims"
    (Guardian)

    "Brian Deer spent years investigating Andrew Wakefield's MMR and autism research, which he now alleges was fraudulent. Here he argues that doctors closed ranks behind one of their own."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2011/jan/12/andrew-wakefield-fraud-mmr-autism


    This is a weird piece by Deer in which he castigates his allies Drs Ben Goldacre and Michael Fitzpatrick for failing to pursue Wakefield aggressively enough and talks bizarrely of a medical establishment closing ranks to protect Wakefield - seemingly describing some parallel reality in which doctors' habit of closing ranks and protecting their own from any allegation of wrongdoing or misconduct is relevant to the case of Dr Wakefield, and in which the medical establishment is his enemy here, reluctantly being pressed into taking action against Wakefield.

    The way this pieces muddies the understanding of the political landscape is what leaves me as an impression...it seems to be twisting and reframing the understanding of the debate for the reader - distorting the political argument to frame a spurious dispute he's created between him and his mates: whether Dr Wakefield should be pursued for fraud or not: it's very clever because there has to be apparent difference of opinion presented, but the arguments of Wakefield's supporters must not be printed...so some kind of controversy is needed...

    It's very hard to believe that it's only Deer who wants to pursue this latest 'fraud' agenda, and that the BMJ published his piece despite opposition from Goldacre, Fitzpatrick, and all their friends.

    Michael Fitzpatrick, for those who don't know, is another prominent ex-RCP Lobby member who crops up all the time in these sort of debates, as do several others with similar history, some of whom are detailed here:
    http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=141
     
  6. Sean

    Sean Senior Member

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  7. Rosemary

    Rosemary Senior Member

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    Brian deer cannot tell us where the fraud is

    As Posted by ChildHealthSafety on Age of Autism

    On a blog on which Brian Deer posts regularly and in comments Deer himself posted just yesterday, CHS has challenged Deer and his followers to come up with justification for the allegations of fraud.

    So far they cannot do it and Deer has provided no answers.

    Child 8 and Child 11 have been covered. There are 10 more to go.

    READ ON FOR MORE:

    Wakefield & MMR BRIAN DEER CANNOT TELL US WHERE THE FRAUD IS

    http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/wakefield-where-de-fraud-brian/
     
  8. Angela Kennedy

    Angela Kennedy *****

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    Yes I think you are right here Mark: and therefore it is somewhat of a red herring. Sort of reminds me of the 'lumpers versus splitters debate' of 'functional somatic syndromes' between White and Wessely, an irrelevancy: also reminds me of the is it(?) "how many angels can you fit on the head of a pin" 'debate'...
     
  9. jenbooks

    jenbooks Guest

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    Deth is great--and his answer is spot on. Deth is a superb researcher.

    I don't think you can make up allegations about projected financial profits--per the article. Those allegations were real. Wakefield may be both right and wrong. He may be right about the enterocolitis, and he may also have wanted to get rich, and therefore is guilty as judged, even in a court of investigative journalism, so to speak.

    The sad fact is that, in every arena of medicine, those who develop tests, vaccines, drugs, and treatments of any kind, are often motivated by money.
     
  10. Angela Kennedy

    Angela Kennedy *****

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    What ARE the 'real' allegations about "projected financial profits--per the article"? And, are you saying the other allegations are therefore NOT 'real'?
     
  11. jenbooks

    jenbooks Guest

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    Angela: I found that kind of projected financial gain to de facto suggest a total conflict of interest. Paying healthy kids to be controls is sloppy--and stupid--but not as indicative of moral turpitude.

    The reporter is not inventing the meetings, and the projected financial windfall from tests.

    As Deth points out, the larger issues remain valid. I'm not going to post on this subject again though, as I'm not going to be drawn into arguments.
     
  12. Angela Kennedy

    Angela Kennedy *****

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    Well ok, but that then leaves a big problem with what you've claimed. This sort of 'he's done very bad but I'm not giving details' attitude has dogged most pronouncements on the 'Evil Andrew Wakefield', and this refusal to clarify on the details, wherever it comes from, inevitably leaves people sceptical.
     
  13. jenbooks

    jenbooks Guest

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    I gave my opinion. I read the article. I have no claims. Anybody can read it. It looks very bad for Wakefield. Better to focus on the larger issues, like Deth and others.
     
  14. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    A bit OT, but this piece appeared at the Guardian by Brian Deer, writer of the BMJ piece which is critical of the medical establishment for protecting Wakefield.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2011/jan/12/andrew-wakefield-fraud-mmr-autism?INTCMP=SRCH

    He criticises Ben Goldachre and Michael Fitzpatrick by name. They've both been mentioned as friends of Wessely, and Fitzpatrick has written some fairly extreme CFS stuff at Spiked. To me, it looks like Deer has been a bit unfair on them (and I'm loathe to defend Fitzpatrick), but it does illustrate how the MMR debate could work in our favour if there's now a push for greater accountability of those working with in medicine whose poor research damages patients.

    edit: here's the new BMJ bit in case it's not been posted. Good after some big people: http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5258.full
     
  15. Mark

    Mark Acting CEO

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    esther: I wrote about that weird Guardian piece at #85.

    Re: the alleged financial conflict of interest regarding supposed projected financial gain:

    To Jenbooks and others who are swayed by that argument, I suggest you reconsider: what have you actually heard or had confirmed regarding that projected financial gain? And have you heard a response from Dr Wakefield regarding that issue?

    My understanding is that it is a piece of intellectual property held by him as a researcher (which is quite normal, the WPI, Dr Singh and Dr Lo all hold patents in relevant areas) concerning a vaccination-related technique. There is some detailing regarding that, worth exploring further: my understanding is that the IP was held from some considerable time before the controversial Lancet paper, that it is in practice unrelated to this issue, and that there are not, and never were, any realistic plans to exploit that IP as an alternative to MMR.

    When you read Brian Deer's pieces, I implore anyone like Jenbooks who has read that allegation of financial interest to think very carefully about what details they have actually heard about regarding that financial interest, whether they are satisfied that the issue is relevant, and whether they have seen a response from Dr Wakefield on that subject and got his side of that story.

    I think that anyone considering that question will realise that they have read no more than I have: a vague circumstantial allegation by Deer that sounds questionable in the context of his article but - like all the other allegations - on closer inspection turns out to add up to not very much at all, if anything.

    Please do ensure you've heard both sides of the argument, fairly, before reaching a judgement on this issue. If you just relied on the UK press, you would perhaps by now be convinced that the XMRV/ME connection has now been conclusively disproved, but that doesn't make it true.
     
  16. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    oops. I've not been following this thread closely enough. From his new BMJ piece, it does seem like he's going after a few prominant people over this for their work with Wakefield. I really don't know much about this subject though.
     
  17. Rosemary

    Rosemary Senior Member

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  18. Mark

    Mark Acting CEO

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    The point of my post was: I find it very hard to believe that the people he's apparently "going after" are not, in reality, his good mates who agree with him. He's "going after" some of the people who have been at the heart of the anti-MMR campaign, alongside him, for not pursuing Dr Wakefield vigorously enough for 'fraud'. It strikes me as a phony debate that they've cooked up amongst themselves, in place of the actual debate that they think should not take place: public comparison of their "right" arguments with Dr Wakefield's "wrong" arguments which are so potentially misleading that Guardian readers should not be exposed to them.
     
  19. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    I was talking more about the senior people at the Royal Free which Deer seems to think should be held more accountable.

    Goldachre posted a comment beneath Deer's report saying that he had always been supportive of Deer's work. Other commentators suggested Deer was trying to diminish the role of other campaigners for the sake of his own glory.

    I think there could be a genuine divide between those who see science as a process that requires that researchers be freely able to make mistakes without fearing the personal consequences, and those who see the scientific process as operating amongst other political and social systems that require a greater measure of personal accountability. It's a different debate than the MMR one, but it's not a phony debate. I think it's more interesting and important than the Wakefield debate.
     
  20. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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