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Medicine The Almighty Buck

Autism-Vax Doc Scandal Was Pharma Business Scam 541

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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  • Re:Heh (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:04AM (#34847520)

    He indirectly contributed to the deaths of 6 kids. no need for hyperbole

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:09AM (#34847570)

    The worst part is that we've known about this for at least 6 years now. Here's an article from 2004:

    http://briandeer.com/mmr/st-wakefield-vaccine.htm [briandeer.com]

    It's always good to see that Slashdot is firmly at the cutting edge of science and technology ...

  • 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.


  • by golfbum ( 1408137 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:24AM (#34847710)
    Wakefield is happily minting money in TX where he "manages" an alternative therapy clinic. He claims he isn't practicing medicine at all just "managing." He definitely should be back in the UK standing before a judge. gb
  • 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 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.

  • 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'.
  • Re:Heh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:21AM (#34848436)

    Did he have heavy metal poisoning? If you look up the symptoms you'll see they are quite similar.

    In order to get heavy metal poisoning from vaccines, you'd have to get vaccinated on the order of multiple times daily. There are much easier ways [webmd.com] to get yourself an accumulation of toxic metals.

    On the other hand, there's every chance Scott Shoemaker's kid was chewing on shitty [nowpublic.com] chinese-made [google.com] Cadmium-laced [examiner.com] or lead-laced [thedailygreen.com] toys. Or chewing lead paint from the house's walls.

    Blaming the vaccines is stupid.

  • Re:Heh (Score:5, Informative)

    by SemperUbi ( 673908 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:36AM (#34848670)
    It's not hyperbole. Pertussis has undergone a resurgence [cdc.gov] in the past several years, in part because some parents are not having their kids vaccinated for various worries (of which autism is only the most recent). Pertussis can kill kids.
  • 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 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.
  • Re:Heh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zironic ( 1112127 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:49AM (#34848876)

    What the heck are you talking about? Herd Immunity is the concept that as long as a significant amount of the 'herd' are immune to the disease, then the disease can't effectively spread which in practice helps the non-immune members of the herd as well.

    This means that even though you don't take your vaccine for whatever reason, you're still safe as long as everyone else does.

  • 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.

  • by Revek ( 133289 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @12:04PM (#34849108) Homepage

    nope. Vaccines are proven to help stop the plagues that have caused a lot more suffering. I don't think its in anyway environmental other than our as a species sudden change of lifestyle.

  • Re:Heh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @01:38PM (#34850540)

    but I think that society has an obligation to provide all of its members with the information they need to make informed choices

    Jenny McCarthy has all the information she needs to make an informed choice. The problem is not a lack of information, the problem is that she's a brainless fuckwit.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry