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Medicine The Almighty Buck

Autism-Vax Doc Scandal Was Pharma Business Scam 541

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the oh-this-again dept.
Sockatume writes "In his second report, Brian Deer exposes how MMR-autism prophet Andrew Wakefield aimed to profit from the vaccine scare. Two years before the research that 'discovered' the MMR-autism link, Wakefield began courting interest in a hundred-million-dollar diagnostics firm. The doctor hoped to seed the company with government legal aid money and profit by charging 'premium prices' for new diagnostic tests to be used in vaccine injury lawsuits. By the time Wakefield published, the proposals had expanded into producing new 'safe' vaccines, two businesses to gather legal aid funding, and interest from partners including Wakefield's own hospital. The scheme ultimately disintegrated with the arrival of new leadership at Wakefield's hospital and ongoing scrutiny into his research."
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Autism-Vax Doc Scandal Was Pharma Business Scam

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  • Heh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:47AM (#34847352) Homepage

    I know it's not the same thing, but this sorta reminds me of that TNG episode where two planets were suffering from a plague, and the cure was on one planet...but the cure was also a narcotic. One planet cured themselves of the addiction, but kept selling it to the other planet under the false pretense they would die if they didn't continue consuming it (their symptoms were withdrawal, not plague death.) I love how at the end of it, Piccard is like "Let's get as far away from this system as we can. Screw these loonies, let them duke it out." Can't remember the name of the episode, but I know it was in the first season.

    • Re:Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:54AM (#34847444)

      The problem here is, Wakefield's scam has actually caused the death of hundreds of kids and caused thousands of others to get sick with completely preventable illnesses.

      He's personally responsible for causing outbreaks of diseases which were all but eradicated to spring back up as enough stupid parents followed the lead of batshit-insane people [time.com] to break down what we call "herd immunity" [vaccinetruth.org], which is also what we rely on to protect the small number of people in society who don't get vaccinations for "religious" reasons or because they have a demonstrable allergy [drgreene.com] to one of the vaccine components.

      Further, the "debate" over this has increased distrust of doctors, which isn't helpful. We already have enough problems with hypochondriacs who should have their WebMD access taken away because they are constantly convinced they are "special" people with some rare, exotic illness rather than a garden-variety head cold.

      • Re:Heh (Score:4, Informative)

        by wjousts (1529427) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:07AM (#34847558)

        ...to break down what we call "herd immunity" [vaccinetruth.org], which is also what we rely on to protect the small number of people in society who don't get vaccinations for "religious" reasons or because they have a demonstrable allergy [drgreene.com] to one of the vaccine components.

        And also those for who get the vaccine, but it just plain doesn't work, for whatever reason.

      • Re:Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gmuslera (3436) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:10AM (#34847582) Homepage Journal
        The worst problem is that it don't ends now. For years (centuries?) from now people will refuse to vaccine kids because "i hear somewhere that it causes autism", that kind of lies, misunderstandings and myths are documented that remain for very long, no matter what science says loudy all around (like some few examples [wikipedia.org] that came to light recently)
      • Re:Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MogNuts (97512) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:22AM (#34847696)

        No. Thank Jenny McCarthy for that. And Oprah.

        Oprah has done a lot of good, so she gets a pass. But again a reason that celebrities should just shut up and do their job, because almost 100% in any other aspect of life, they're idiots.

        • Re:Heh (Score:4, Informative)

          by Blue Stone (582566) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:58AM (#34849030) Homepage Journal

          It's worth watching episodes of Chris Morris's Brass Eye for very good examples of 'celebrities' who will say anything they're told to, or think they should say about subjects they know absolutely nothing about, as if they were leaders of society and authorities in their own right.

        • My GF watches Oprah, and I've developed kind of a mixed opinion of her (Oprah).

          She clearly devotes a great deal of energy to spreading medical information. As an example, she's built up the wildly successful real-life character Dr. Oz, who is a very hunky and charismatic guy that gets on TV and gives people some generally very very good medical advice.

          A problem with Oprah's brand of medical and lifestyle advice is that she doesn't encourage independent investigation. She doesn't really encourage people to

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Wilf_Brim (919371)
        Actually, a bit worse. The MMR vaccine (measles component notably) does not have a 100% response. Since in my facility we began testing for immunity I've come to agree with the ~90% response rate, at best. So, even with 100% coverage, only 90% (give or take) are going to be immune. If you take away allergies, and immunocomprimise, it doesn't take huge numbers of vaccine resfusers to drop below the 80% required for herd immunity. Thus, the outbreaks of measles in the UK, Canada, US and (ongoing) in Aust
      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Jenny McCarthy isn't batshit insane, she's just a gullible bimbo. Please don't insult all the truly batshit insane people out there by linking them with her dumb ass.

  • Autism VAX? (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:51AM (#34847396) Journal
    Now, I know RISC is cool these days and the VAX was pretty much the embodiment of CISC, but calling it autistic is a bit uncalled for.
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:59AM (#34847486) Homepage Journal

      Well, while the VAX wasn't autistic, it certainly its users weren't playing with a full DEC, either.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I had the same thought. Why are these damned kids so lazy these days? Or is it stupidity? Is it that they're too lazy to spell out "vaccine", or too stupid to know how to spell it?

      You are entirely correct, a VAX is an old computer. A Vaccine is the shot you get to immunise yourself from a disease.

      2 mch txtng?

      BTW, can you get these damned kids off our lawns?

      • Re:Autism VAX? (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:13AM (#34848298) Journal
        While I'd like to blame kids today, it's actually a Slashdot problem. The title is three characters short of the character limit for Slashdot headlines. That said, a few more-comperhensible permutations would have fit, such as 'Autism-Vaccine Scandal was Pharma Business Scam'.
  • This is a Big Deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by microTodd (240390) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:53AM (#34847420) Homepage Journal

    Being a new parent right around the height of the Autism/Vaccination scare, this is a Big Deal. This was huge! We had lots of talking heads on TV telling people not to vaccinate their kids. Famously, Jenny McCarthy went on Oprah and told parents not to vaccinate their kids. Many doctors and parents LISTENED! If you read the articles, you'll see that as a result children died of easily preventable childhood diseases because parents were too scared to get the proper vaccinations.

    I am frankly amazed that this turned out to be a scam and not just sloppy science research. I just cannot fathom the depths of this man's conscience.

    The sad part is, the repercussions will continue to last for years and years. Even after this has all been revealed as malicious, willful fraud, I bet dollars to doughnuts that many parents will still believe it, and won't get their kids vaccinations, putting them at risk.

    I'm normally a laid back guy but this one just makes me fired up.

    • by Bemopolis (698691) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:11AM (#34847590)
      If there were a God of Justice, Wakefield would be felled by polio and end up in an iron lung.

      And if there were a God of Irony, a study would be published that conclusively demonstrated that autism is caused by breast implants.
    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:11AM (#34847594)

      Best part was McCarthy's son was misdiagnosed. [hollywoodlife.com] ... of course that just means he "was healed through a range of experimental and unproved biomedical treatments." [ivillage.com]

    • by Ieshan (409693) <ieshan@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:14AM (#34847620) Homepage Journal

      Famously, Jenny McCarthy went on Oprah and told parents not to vaccinate their kids. Many doctors and parents LISTENED! If you read the articles, you'll see that as a result children died of easily preventable childhood diseases because parents were too scared to get the proper vaccinations.

      She's STILL DOING IT! She still says the same thing. Article in Huffington Post, dated TWO DAYS AGO:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-mccarthy/vaccine-autism-debate_b_806857.html [huffingtonpost.com]


      I know children regress after vaccination because it happened to my own son. Why aren't there any tests out there on the safety of how vaccines are administered in the real world, six at a time? Why have only 2 of the 36 shots our kids receive been looked at for their relationship to autism? Why hasn't anyone ever studied completely non-vaccinated children to understand their autism rate?

      These missing safety studies are causing many parents to approach vaccines with moderation. Why do other first world countries give children so many fewer vaccines than we do? What if a parent used the vaccine schedule of Denmark, Norway, Japan or Finland -- countries that give one-third the shots we do (12 shots vs. 36 in the U.S.)? Vaccines save lives, but might be harming some children -- is moderation such a terrible idea?

      This debate won't end because of one dubious reporter's allegations. I have never met stronger women than the moms of children with autism. Last week, this hoopla made us a little stronger, and even more determined to fight for the truth about what's happening to our kids.

      Amazing.

      • by Rogerborg (306625)
        I seem to remember party girl McCartney being caught smoking and drinking while knocked up. Surely that should have toughened her womb-booger up and made him more resistant to the autism virusbacteriacurse?
      • by Chibi Merrow (226057) <mrmerrow@monREDH ... net minus distro> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @12:11PM (#34849216) Homepage Journal

        What if a parent used the vaccine schedule of Denmark, Norway, Japan or Finland -- countries that give one-third the shots we do (12 shots vs. 36 in the U.S.)?

        That's funny because EXACTLY DUE TO THIS TYPE OF STUPID REASONING, Japan split up the MMR vaccine into three separate vaccines given over a period of three years, and their autism rates just keep going up regardless. There's not even correlation between vaccination rates and autism, much less causation.

    • by glueball (232492) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:22AM (#34847694)

      The fascinating part to me is people *knew* there was a link. It was in the literature. People with PhD's and MD's were trotted out saying to the masses "You don't have my education, my experience. This Autism link is real. Big Pharma is poisoning you"

      I see a lot of similarities to Global warming ^C^C^C^C Climate Change arguments.

    • by NorbrookC (674063)
      What bothers me about it was that no one at Lancet, not the editors or the peer-reviewers, bothered to question the data and the assumptions to begin with. I'm also curious to know just what role the other co-authors had in this paper. Were they just "courtesy additions," or were they complicit in this research? Having written a few research articles, I can only think of one that went through without a request for revisions, or additional data. Most of the time, we were put through the wringer.
    • by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:35AM (#34847832) Journal

      It should make you fired up, but in a different way.

      Look at what you said: Jenny McCarthy went on Oprah and told parents not to vaccinate their kids.
      So...Jenny McCarthy (famous for her diagnostic research?) went on Oprah (famous for its rigorous, investigative journalism?) and told people not to get a procedure that had been not just recommended but nearly mandatory for what, 40 years?
      And on THAT basis, they didn't?

      Sorry, but dude, if people are THAT gullible and witless that they trust their child's LIFE to the pronouncements of Jenny McCarthy and Oprah....well, they probably were going to have trouble making it across the street alive too.

      I'm sorry to sound so cynical, but at what point are people required to perform a little due diligence on their own lives? I mean, sure, we're not all epidemiologists or vaccine researchers, we can't all parse the raw data for results. But there are experts you CAN turn to (your family doctor, for one) for advice, and I don't know many of them basing their counsel on Oprah. And if you as a self-aware actor make the choice to disregard experts, that IS your choice. And the results - good or bad - are your fault. Sometimes, I'm sure, you'll be right. That would make your choice evolutionarily right, congrats.

      Usually, however, I'd guess that you'd be wrong.

      Looking at it objectively, one could say it was a 2nd-order Darwin effect. It's a bitch when it happens to be you though.

      • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@NosPAM.justconnected.net> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:47AM (#34848842)

        I'd completely agree with you, but these idiots aren't hurting themselves. They're hurting their (very young, infant) children. The kids aren't the ones saying "but I heard oprah", it's the parents.

        It's the same thing as the homeopathy nonsense. My mother has a friend whose kid had Lyme disease, but she thought the treatment was too harsh and turned to homeopathic treatment (saline and sugar pills). He got better! He only a few neurologic defecits that held him back a year in school and changed his personality. So, heretic me looks up what the symptoms of not treating Lyme disease... and sees something familiar. The poor kid suffered for years and is damaged for life because his mom is a dumb bitch - is that "her" problem, or his?

        I would fully support those people getting prosecuted for child abuse. People are allowed to be as stupid about their own health as they want, but not about their kids. Otherwise, they should be removed and placed in the care of people who will treat them properly - same as we do with other neglect.

        • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:29PM (#34851336)

          It's actually worse than them hurting their own kids. They are potentially hurting other people's kids who can't get the vaccine because they are too young, have immune system problems, allergies, etc. If you can't get the vaccine, you usually rely on herd immunity to protect you. But thanks to Jenny McCarthy, Andrew Wakefield and the like herd immunity is breaking down in places. Parents who would vaccinate their children are having their babies die before they reach vaccination age.

          Example: Dana McCaffery, a 4 week old baby, died of Whooping Cough in 2009. She was too young for the vaccine. Herd immunity should have protected her but anti-vaccination groups lobbied for parents to stop vaccinating and suddenly whooping cough rates rose. The head of one of these groups (the Australian Vaccination Network), Meryl Dorey, said "You didn't die from it (whooping cough) 30 years ago and you're not going to die from it today." This was *IN RESPONSE TO* Dana's death. Not just in response to it, but with Dana's parents in the room! She had the gall to question the diagnosis having never seen any of the medical information, merely because it went against what she believed to be true about Whooping Cough and vaccines. Luckily, Australia has taken action against the AVN, but this won't bring back Dana or any of the other babies who die of Whooping Cough, measles or any of the other diseases that shouldn't be making comebacks because we have perfectly good vaccines for them.

        • by wikdwarlock (570969) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:32PM (#34851394) Homepage
          To your last point, while this sounds fine in theory, the application could be ghastly. Who decides that a parent is being "stupid" about their child's health? Surely not you. Perhaps a board of certified medical professionals? Are the board members (exaggerated for effect, not my personal views) crazy liberals from California, ignorant rednecks from the south, white supremacists, recently naturalized citizens with fake medical degrees from India? If not them, then the government, right? Local, state, or federal? Which lobbying interest do you want to dictate the "stupidity" of YOUR treatment of YOUR kid's health?

          What happens if the FCC's ban on Janet Jackson's nipple on broadcast television is conflated to be a psychological health risk, but you want to teach your child about the correct anatomical names of human's bodies? Or your babysitter reports your wife because your 3 year old son says he took a shower with Mommy? Or, if someone says 3D television can cause eye damage in children and you let your 5 year old watch Monsters vs Aliens on the new 3D tv you got for Christmas? Or that homemade fried chicken you brought to the company picnic is too fattening and 20 people can testify that you let your child eat it, willfully ignoring the Childhood Obesity Epidemic (TM) we've all heard about on 10 different talk shows?

          And all of this is completely based in my own attitudes toward health care. Other concerns from religious points of view are another set of problems. Maybe giving up chocolate for Lent traumatizes your child psychologically. Maybe the beef lobby convinces folks that Hindus are depleting their children's iron levels by not letting them eat cow meat. Etc...

          The bottom line is that people should (in my opinion) be allowed to be as stupid with their health, and with their children's health, as they want to be. It's a simple stance, but very complicated to work out in the real world, I know. And I DO believe that Child Protective Services should be able to remove children from situations of grossly negligent parenting, things like no access to clean food or water, inadequate shelter, abusive environment, etc, but even in those, the creeping grey areas can, and are, abused or misused in ways that reasonable, caring people don't intend.
      • by ultranova (717540)

        Sorry, but dude, if people are THAT gullible and witless that they trust their child's LIFE to the pronouncements of Jenny McCarthy and Oprah....well, they probably were going to have trouble making it across the street alive too.

        And that would be all fine and good if they were the ones who paid the price. But they aren't. It's their kids who'll be/have been hit by this. It's not their lives they are screwing over by being stupid; no, they are harming people who are just as entitled to the protection of la

    • by Myopic (18616)

      Of COURSE these people won't change their minds! To do that they would have to be capable of experiencing cognitive dissonance. Want to read some lunacy? Just check out what Jenny says on her stupid website [generationrescue.com] this week:

      Recent Dr. Andrew Wakefield Media Circus: Much Ado About Nothing

      The mainstream media is in a frenzy over a new "study" claiming that Andrew Wakefield's 1998 Lancet paper was fraudulent. For years, the media has mischaracterized Wakefield's work as implicating the MMR vaccine in the autism epid

    • by microTodd (240390)

      You know, I was going to post more follow up messages about Dr. Wakefield's apparent lack of ethics, but two other posts in this article gave me pause.

      From A nonymous Coward [slashdot.org]

      from suv4x4 [slashdot.org]

      These were both good comments, and made me realize that I was letting my emotion overtake my good judgement. Do I believe that Dr. Wakefield was some evil charlatan laughing in a study while drinking whiskey and petting a white cat? No, I don't. Its more likely that years of research and the lure of money clouded his judgem

    • by iluvcapra (782887) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:39AM (#34848708)
      As much as you would think this would be the last word on the issue, this is not the end. Just after this news came out a friend of mine was was posting on Facebook that just because Wwakefield is discredited it doesn't mean that vaccinations are safe. -- he then put up a bunch of links to studies alleging things about Thimerosal etc and asked rhetorically "why don't you think you've ever heard of these studies?". The belief in the conspiracy has become self-confirming, and these people have since started websites, support groups, and they have elaborate FAQa and monographs to explain the "problem" to a new generation of parents.

      My friend has four children, all with some form of autism -- even the girls. Many of the "leaders"of this movement are desperate, angry people who have suffered much at the hands of a little understood mental disease, and grasp at any shred of evidence to link autism to something in the environment, something the can control. I don't think well hear the last of anti-vaccination until autism's cured or becomes genetically screenable.
    • by c6gunner (950153)

      I am frankly amazed that this turned out to be a scam and not just sloppy science research. I just cannot fathom the depths of this man's conscience.

      You're talking about the same guy who invited kids to his son's birthday party, and then paid them to take their blood samples. I don't think the words "conscience" and "Andrew Wakefield" belong anywhere near each other.

  • by scubamage (727538) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:54AM (#34847438)
    "You know what I can't figure out? How is it that all these stupid neanderthal mafia guys can be so good at crime, and smart guys like us can suck so badly at it."
    • I think the problem is called conscience. That's what corporations are for, it's intelligence without conscience.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        That's what corporations are for, it's intelligence without conscience.

        For a corporation to lack a conscience, it has to have CxOs without consciences. Of course, having one automatically disqualifies one brom being a Chief Officer of most corporations.

        • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:40AM (#34848744)

          That's the problem with corporations, right there, in a nutshell.

          They favour the concentration of a large amount of power in the hands a few people. The larger the corporation (and thus the more power it wields), the more likely the CEO is to be a sociopathic bastard, because this is what it takes to compete with all the other sociopathic bastards to get to the top of that massive pyramid.

          So the most effective means of consolidating power is also the most likely to place that power in the hands of someone who'll misuse it. And they get to command the actions of otherwise OK guys who have become the equivalent of the henchmen of Dr Evil just because they have this overpowering urge not to be street people.

          • They favour the concentration of a large amount of power in the hands a few people. The larger the corporation (and thus the more power it wields), the more likely the CEO is to be a sociopathic bastard, because this is what it takes to compete with all the other sociopathic bastards to get to the top of that massive pyramid.

            In reality, studies have shown this to be the exact opposite of true. Typically nice guys get elevated faster than sociopathic bastards, because people don't like to promote sociopathic bastards, especially not to positions above them. Would you?

            What happens is once the people get to the top, they become corrupted by the power. It happens again and again [wsj.com]. Here's a quote:

            Psychologists refer to this as the paradox of power. The very traits that helped leaders accumulate control in the first place all but disappear once they rise to power

        • by ultranova (717540)

          For a corporation to lack a conscience, it has to have CxOs without consciences.

          Wrong. It's entirely possible to have an organization made entirely of normal people, yet have it behave in ways that are normally deserved for cartoony supervillainy. The trick is to make every member of the organization think that he's just doing his duty, just doing his job, just following orders.

          This is what "banality of evil" really means: it doesn't take malice or greed to do evil, simple passive cowardice is quite suffi

  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:54AM (#34847442)

    There are so many parents who believed (the media interpretation of) the first study that they kept their kids from getting vaccinated. As a result, it has been more common to see childhood illnesses which had been virtual eradicated with the help of vaccination, particularly measles, as well as some other more dangerous diseases. Lives have been put at risk because this guy gambled (correctly) that new parents are easy to freak out and take advantage of. Now there is the daunting task of convincing those same parents, who aren't going to want to admit they were basically taken in a huge scam and put their kids at risk because they were dumb, which means a large number of people are going to convince themselves the retraction is a scam/conspiracy/etc and that the original study was right.

    Is there a degree of felony high enough to cover this?

    • by ledow (319597) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:04AM (#34847534) Homepage

      The problem was ignorant parents. At no point did anyone say that ALL MMR vaccines are dangerous - the (completely unfounded) rumours only ever circulated on the combined MMR vaccine. You still can, and always have been able to, get the separate vaccines which have been working since the 70's in just about everyone without any problems of the kind mentioned here. But parents didn't read that bit. They just read "vaccination" = "autism" (which happened to be complete bollocks anyway) and assumed it meant EVERY vaccination. Stupidity on the part of parents who can't read can't be blamed on governments or rogue doctors here.

      In the UK (where this doctor was based and doing his research and started this scandal), you could opt for the normal, old, tested vaccines without any problem at all. It was only the new, combined MMR vaccine that ever had such claims against it. Doctors in the UK routinely offered the alternatives to parents who were worried. It was only the *dumb* parents who immediately steered clear of things that had been working, without problems, without dubious claims, and without association with any such scandals, even when they were offered them. The media over here actually did a good job of separating it out and offering correct advice, but some people always get too hysterical to actually LISTEN to what they are being told.

      It's like saying that a particular model of car has been recalled because of faulty brakes and then NOBODY buying a car ever again. It's that ridiculous.

      And it wouldn't be a felony, because he's in the UK and we don't have that word. However, he's already been dismissed by the GMC and will never practice as a doctor again. There's also the very-real possibility of legal action against the doctor, hospital, government advisers that listened, etc.

      • by IICV (652597) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:30PM (#34851354)

        It's like saying that a particular model of car has been recalled because of faulty brakes and then NOBODY buying a car ever again. It's that ridiculous.

        The thing is, though, that people aren't inherently scared of cars. This whole antivax manufactroversy only got traction because a large portion of the population is simply scared shitless of needles. Like, completely and unreasonably unhinged when presented with something long and pointy that's meant to go in your arm. Do not want to the max extreme sort of thing.

        Essentially, a lot of people were just looking for some excuse, any excuse, to justify to themselves why they shouldn't vaccinate their children - and Jenny McCarthy handed them one on a silver platter.

    • by thijsh (910751) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:33AM (#34847808) Journal
      People who have been misled by false information are just that: 'misled'. People who choose to endanger their children (and others secondarily) after they know the facts are provably negligent.

      While it may be hard to prosecute for this because it is not that black-and-white (and people can always play the religion wildcard) it is possible to prosecute negligent parents when it does go wrong and their children die of a preventable disease... It is not pretty since they already lost their child, but other people might learn from their mistakes... If people don't see the consequence and learn from it we all are at risk of infection so there is a reasonable incentive to prosecute and shame these willfully neglectful parents as much as legally possible so people will say 'they would never mistreat their children like that'.
  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:58AM (#34847474)

    Maybe, just maybe, so much power over life and death shouldn't be given to for-profit organisations?

    Because then you end up with crap like this.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Maybe, just maybe, so much power over life and death shouldn't be given to for-profit organisations?

      Because then you end up with crap like this.

      Continuing that line of thought, you can't pay or promote individual docs for their work, or they could falsify their results. The only option available is a union payscale. Similar to military doctors whom get paid pretty much on salary.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:58AM (#34847482)

    Hi, speaking on behalf of the medical field, we've known a bunch of this for years. Which is why the accusations from the Anti-Vax mob about "Pushing Poison" on behalf of "Big Pharma" was so infuriating. This asshole lied about MMR and other vaccines because he was pushing his own vaccine. He's done incalculable harm, for his OWN profit, and his supporters accused *us* of being immoral profit slaves.

    And this includes all you soft-spined assholes who would take the stance of "Well, I'm not saying they're right, but maybe they have something, there are a lot of concerns right? What harm [whatstheharm.net] is there to letting the parents decide [jennymccar...ycount.com] if they're uncomfortable?"

    Hope the truth burns, folks.

    • by Kohath (38547)

      Maybe you guys should think about this the next time someone tries to advance a hate campaign against Big-Whatever? Maybe, just maybe, everyone running these sorts of hate campaigns has a similar motive?

      The energy, food and beverage, agricultural, mining, banking, and manufacturing industries (and everyone else in the private sector except trial lawyers) could use a little fair-minded consideration.

  • by Neil Boekend (1854906) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:08AM (#34847568)
    There is one issue I have had since the beginning.
    Assume it were true.
    Assume all the autism is caused by vaccination (it can't be worse than that).
    The autism percentage in the US in 2007 was 0.7%.
    The chance a kid dies from diseases he could have been vaccinated against is higher, dunno the exact number and am to lazy to look'em up.
    So these people think it's worse to have a kid with autism than to lose your child to a disease? Are these people insane?
    • by vlm (69642)

      The chance a kid dies from diseases he could have been vaccinated against is higher, dunno the exact number and am to lazy to look'em up.

      Humorously your lazyness led you to have it completely backwards. The rate for measles, once diagnosed, is something less than 0.3%. But that requires a measles diagnosis. You can't discuss the death rate due to measles in the USA because its only single digits yearly for the entire developed western world. Its like debating the public health implications of protecting childrens heads from meteorite impacts. Before the measles vaccine, about as many kids died of measles as died of lightning every year,

      • by clonan (64380)

        Check your numbers again. The actual infection rate was estimated at 90% of people had measles by the age of 15.

        Now you are right that around 1 in 100 suffer the severe form, encephalitis, develops. Thoes who don't die are typically left with neurological issues. Please not that this is roughly the same rate as autism.

        So IF 100% of autism cases were caused by the vaccine, then and only then would it be a toss-up as to safer with or without the vaccine. Plus you also have Mumps and Rubella that are also

      • by mibe (1778804) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:41AM (#34848748)
        The mortality rate for measles in otherwise healthy people in developed countries is 0.3% (yeah, I can Wikipedia too). This disregards several things: complications from measles in adults, the immunocompromised patient (measles has a 30% mortality rate in AIDS patients), and every single other disease we have vaccines for. Aggregate lifetime risk (not just mortality - see polio) from all of these diseases is far, far greater - and for a greater number of people - than any of the stated autism risk numbers. Moreover, the overwhelming body of evidence has shown that the stated autism risk numbers are, in fact, non-existent.
      • by blueg3 (192743) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @12:22PM (#34849400)

        You can't discuss the death rate due to measles in the USA because its only single digits yearly for the entire developed western world.

        One might think vaccination had something to do with that.

  • by Burnhard (1031106) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:15AM (#34847626)
    Is this actual fraud, or the kind of confirmation bias that goes on in science all the time? In other words, did this guy actually really believe his own results and invest accordingly, or did he fabricate his results in order to profit from the fabrication knowing it was a fabrication? There's a subtle but important difference.
    • by blueg3 (192743) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:49AM (#34847992)

      He made investments based on the result of a study before he performed it, cherry-picked study participants, and then falsified results.

      • by Burnhard (1031106)
        Oh well, I guess that confirms it.
      • by goodmanj (234846)

        Not quite, if you look at the timeline. He was receiving payments from a MMR=autism lawyer before he performed his study (such as it was), and he *investigated* the possibility of profiting off the research results, but he didn't actually incorporate the company until just after the Lancet paper was published.

        I think Burnhard has a good point. Doctors and scientists form companies to profit from their discoveries all the time -- so long as the science is good, the results are published in open literature,

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          Deer's other report indicates that Wakefield and/or his co-authors changed the medical histories of the patients when writing the study (no patient on the study went without having part of their diagnosis altered between original medical notes and the published results).

          • by goodmanj (234846)

            Deer's other report indicates that Wakefield and/or his co-authors changed the medical histories of the patients when writing the study

            Yep, but the examples I've seen of that have been shifting dates and adding details -- stuff that could be deliberate fraud with intent to deceive, but could also be a misguided attempt to "enhance" a connection that's already clear to you.

            It's a subtle distinction, I know, and requires us to get into Wakefield's personal head games, but it's the same sort of thing as distin

  • by A nonymous Coward (7548) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:17AM (#34847640)

    The thrust of arguments seems to be that he intended fraud and a quick buck right from the start, or that he has been slandered and all will come out as he claimed once the dust settles.

    But a more likely scenario is that he was convinced of the link between MMR and autism from the very early preliminary studies, so much so that he reached out for financial support and to the lawyers, expecting to not only prevent autism cases, but secondarily to make a buck from the evil pharma in the course of making them pay for their dastardly greedy mistakes. Revenge is all the sweeter when the revengee has to pay you for their mistake.

    And in the end, so addicted was he to that end and his premature conclusion, that he deluded himself past the point where he could ever admit he had been wrong. When his data came out incompatible with his preconceived notion, he did not take a deep breath, count to ten, and reconsider his original position. He fudged the data to match his "reality" and passed the point of no return.

    Yes, he deserves to be slapped around, but to say he planned this fraud right from the beginning is too facile an argument.

    • by Tim C (15259)

      While you are indeed correct about the tabloid media and commercial news shows, this report is in the BMJ which caters to an entirely different readership. I find it incredibly unlikely that they are attempting to create panic amongst their readership to boost sales.

      When his data came out incompatible with his preconceived notion, he did not take a deep breath, count to ten, and reconsider his original position. He fudged the data to match his "reality" and passed the point of no return.

      And in so doing set

    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:38AM (#34848694)
      I don't share your benefit of a doubt. The Lancet has retracted the original study. Their reasons:
      1. He was paid by a lawyer working for the families of the 12 subject children to find a link between MMR and Autism. This financial incentive was not disclosed.
      2. The data was altered or made up. The study said that symptoms shortly appeared after the vaccine was given. In some cases, that was not the truth. In some cases, the symptoms appeared before the vaccine. In at least one case, symptoms appeared six months after the vaccine. In both cases, medical records were altered to conform to the premise.

      These were done before publishing the original study not after. I have doubts about where he had true convictions about his research.

    • by goodmanj (234846)

      I agree and I made this same point [slashdot.org]. However, it's worth pointing out that his original scientific focus was on the connection between measles and *bowel disease*. He only got on to the autism thing after he was approached by a lawyer for a vaccines=autism group and offered a £150/hour retainer. At this point his science shifted toward a three-way connection between vaccine, autism, and bowel disease, and later to autism alone.

      So while I agree that Wakefield may truly have believed his theory was co

  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:20AM (#34847680)

    I like the media. Everything is simple in the media. They can side with a certain viewpoint for a few years, implicitly calling everyone who doesn't agree, an idiot, selecting their guests and questions to only maintain the illusion of being neutral, while having a clear bias.

    Then suddenly, something happens, new information becomes apparent and an endless stream of "it turns out that..." articles flood the public. Everything we proclaimed bad is now good, everything good, is now bad. Panic, people, for you were caught off guard again. The savior was the devil himself.

    Media can repeatedly turn 180 on themselves and sell panic non-stop. They can even fabricate an issue where none exists, then as we recover, claim the opposite so we panic again. Really nice for ratings, and really suitable for pushing hidden agendas. Here's my world view: People's motives are complex. People's moral compass has more than two poles. Sometimes, good people becomes self deluded. Sometimes, bad people get things right. Sometimes, good studies fudge data, and sometimes, there is commercial interests behind a genuinely good cause.

    Am I saying Andrew Wakefield was "right" and vaccines are "bad"? No. Am I saying get yourself all the vaccine shots, and all the seasonal flu ones, always because they are "good"? No. Because the world is just more complex than that. Some vaccines have helped us rid of serious conditions, and ultimately made and keep making the world a better place, while other are just peddled for profit with little or no scientific support behind them. I'm not going into details, because I'm not trying to sell you a certain viewpoint on this "scandal" as correct.

    I'm only trying to bring recognition that in the media cycle we're in now, Wakefield is an evil incarnate who never even believed his own studies, who never ever had a honest thought in his life, and vaccines are as harmless as drinking purified water. You'll see one-sided "fact checks". You'll see journalist display clear dislike of Wakefield while pretending to interview him. You'll see them reiterate how wrong everyone always was.

    Until the next cycle.

    • > I'm not going into details, because I'm not trying to sell you a certain viewpoint on this "scandal" as correct.

      Your post is thoughtful and well expressed. I'd love to get your viewpoints on the vaccine issue.

    • by Burnhard (1031106)
      It's called Publication Bias. Null results are rarely published. They're just not that interesting (to many).
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      This is the British Medical Journal we're talking about here, not a part of the mass media.

  • by Revek (133289) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:57AM (#34848102) Homepage

    As the parent of an autistic child I always thought this one was bullshit. I witnessed my sons development. My family was convinced it was a result of the vaccines. He was normal and suddenly he stopped all the babble. Started staring into space for long periods of time. I think I'm the only one who noticed it happening before the vaccines. Its like no one looked before that. At least now when someone tells me that was the cause I can at least tell them it was a scam.

    • My wife has an autistic brother so my heart goes out to you. Funny thing about autistic people is that they have unusual but correct insight sometimes. I tend to think that there is a little savant in most of them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Revek (133289)

        My free association of this statement reminds me of this joke.

        Cal was out driving in the country, seeing how his new car handled the curvy roads at high speeds. As he rounded a corner, one of his tires blew.

        When he got out of the car to change the tire, he noticed that he had stopped in front of the state mental asylum. There was also a man sitting on the brick wall in front of the facility.

        The driver went about his business, not paying any attention to the guy on the fence. He first took his tire iron and

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by outsider007 (115534)

      Still, if you could do it all over, wouldn't you skip the vaccines?

  • by ballpoint (192660) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:46AM (#34848818)

    SARS, DDT, H1N5, CFC, SO2, WMD, CAGW, Y2K, MMR VAX ... the list goes on and on and on.

"The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults." -- Peter De Vries

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