The British Medical Journal (BMJ) retracted the Wakefield study and called it a fraud. Finally!
An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.”
The now-discredited paper panicked many parents and led to a sharp drop in the number of children getting the vaccine that prevents measles, mumps and rubella. Vaccination rates dropped sharply in Britain after its publication, falling as low as 80% by 2004. Measles cases have gone up sharply in the ensuing years.
In the United States, more cases of measles were reported in 2008 than in any other year since 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90% of those infected had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown, the CDC reported.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine in Britain yesterday. Unfortunately, in addition to martyring him to his supporters, this decision has no impact on him. He stopped practicing medicine in 2004, and has been running an autism recovery clinic since.
Some of the crap this guy pulled is just offensive. To quote NYT: “taking blood samples for his study from children at his son’s birthday party” and “the costs of Dr. Wakefield’s research was paid by lawyers for parents seeking to sue vaccine makers” and “he had shown “a callous disregard” for the suffering of children involved in his research…” Ultimately they slapped him with 30 charges of professional misconduct.
The ban does not prevent him from continuing to do research and publish it, though at this point no professional medical journal will print his work. Wakefield became an alternative medicine practitioner since 2004, working in both the US and UK. This goes to show you what value alternative medicine has — it’s the last refuge for quacks, hacks, greedy liars and cheats.
(I was recently alerted to this comic strip on the subject: http://tallguywrites.livejournal.com/148012.html )
This is not a video but an audio rendering of an excellent song by Tim Minchin, with text displayed (for those without sound, you can read along, but you miss his charming British Aussie expat accent, and the funny rhymes).
A while ago, I wrote a rambling post on my private livejournal (before I started this blog) about natural medicines and how they are handled poorly and need more regulation. Ephedra (“Mormon Tea”) was my main gripe: Look at this, a natural medicine that really works, and because it wasn’t regulated, it got out of control and people died. So now it’s banned. It serves as evidence that the natural medicine industry is a disorganized, unscientific pile of scam artists and loonies.
Over the weekend, we had some hilarious news from those plucky skeptics in the UK, a country that on dit seems to be having a resurgence of free thought. The topic? Homeopathic medicine. Now this is different from “natural medicine” in that homeopathic medicine is, mgs per ml, a whole lot crazier. But easy targets make good television (and blogging!).