For those familiar with the British Medical Journal’s allegations of fraud against Dr Andrew Wakefield, here is a summary of the main points for reference and assistance to cut it down to easily manageable proportions.
For those not familar, read these CHS posts for background and detail:-
Summary of British Medical Journal/Wakefield Fraud Allegations – Truth Laid Bare
Contrary to the key aspect of the BMJ Editors’ allegations that Andrew Wakefield changed prior medical histories of the children to fabricate a new finding of developmental disorders related to bowel conditions in children, Wakefield did not originate the data reported in the 1998 Lancet paper.
To allege fraud requires a comparison between the information originated by the clinicians and what the Lancet paper says.
The BMJ and their commissioned author Mr Deer did not do that.
They also changed what the paper was reporting to fit what they wanted it to say to allege fraud.
They cherry-picked information from family doctor records and the GMC hearings to allege there were discrepancies.
The Lancet paper explicitly reports on
12 children … with a history of normal development followed by loss of acquired skills, including language, together with diarrhoea and abdominal pain”.
Deer and the BMJ changed this to reporting 12 children:
- 1) with autism, who regressed,
- 2) had “non-specific colitis”; and,
- 3) whose symptoms of autism were first indicated within 14 days of the MMR vaccine.
But the Lancet paper was not reporting that. So what Deer and the BMJ did was to 1) select data 2) which would not match what they claimed the Lancet paper reported.
- 1) only 9 of the 12 were diagnosed with an autistic condition;
- 2) most had non specific colitis [11/12] but not all;
- 3) most regressed but the first indications of a behavioural change were not documented for all so the paper could clearly not report first signs of behavioural changes occurring within 14 days.
The BMJ Editors and their author Brian Deer also did not have important information, such as the final assessments of the bowel conditions of the 12 children investigated within the Royal Free by the clinicians – not Wakefield – showing most diagnosed with non specific colitis [11/12]. So the numbers of children with diagnoses which BMJ/Deer reported were wrong.
Nor did they have the “Personal Child Health Records” documenting whether a child is developing within the “normal range” of development or not.
These aspects of information not available in the GMC proceedings were dealt with and mentioned in the GMC transcripts but Deer and BMJ seem to have “overlooked” them.
The 1998 Lancet paper was drafted by Dr Wakefield but it reported the findings of the 12 expert specialist Royal Free Hospital clinicians. The various versions were circulated to the other 12 authors for comment, amendment and approval. Wakefield was a researcher and not an investigating clinician.
In particular, the medical histories of the 12 children reported in the paper were taken by Professor John Walker-Smith of The Royal Free Hospital, London, England. The diagnoses of bowel conditions of the 12 children were made by Dr Dhillon, with consideration and comment by his colleagues. The diagnoses of autistic and other conditions in 8 children were made by Dr Berlowitz and in 4 cases by independent external medical experts not connected with The Royal Free Hospital.
The BMJ engaged in blatant cherry-picking.
- One month before her MMR vaccine Child 8 was recorded by an independent specialist developmental pediatrician [unconnected with The Royal Free Hospital] as within the normal range of development aged 18 months. One month after the MMR vaccine, aged 20 months, the same pediatrician records she was functioning at the age of 12 months. She regressed 8 months in the space of 1 month following the MMR vaccine.
Child 1’s mother reported he was having trouble hearing before MMR. The BMJ and their author Brian Deer claim this was a sign of autism. The family doctor however recorded Child 1 had a discharge from his ear, indicating an ear infection. How did the BMJ and their peer reviewers failed to notice that? Or was it they did not care as long as they could accuse Andrew Wakefield of fraud?
Bizarrely, to cover up the failure over the Personal Child Health Records the BMJ’s author Deer claimed only a negligent doctor would refer to them and scathingly referred to them as “baby books”. The fact is he had never seen them. More importantly, it is clear they these “experts”, he and the BMJ, did not know these are “prospective developmental records” and were cited specifically in the 1998 Lancet paper as a source of information for clinical and developmental histories reported. But still thought themselves “expert” enough to allege fraud against Andrew Wakefield.
The PCHR is an 81 page book issued by the NHS to every UK parent of a newborn child to capture information up to the age of 5 years recorded by health visitors, midwives, nurses, doctors and parents to ensure the health and normal development of children in the UK. It is the obvious place of first reference when checking a developmental history. Neither Deer nor the BMJ even noticed the omission.
And that is how you end up with a Table like this to claim the children did not have the symptoms the BMJ claimed incorrectly that the Lancet paper said they had [published in the BMJ, January 6. 2011 – Click on image to open in new window]:-
BMJ & Its Editors’ Failures to Declare Conflicting Drug Industry & Vaccine Manufacturer Financial Interests.
The BMJ Editors’ subsequent Conflict of Interest correction was no ordinary matter – they failed to disclose material conflicting interests, it involved three senior editors of the BMJ and it relates to amongst other matters, ongoing business and financial partnerships between the BMJ and the pharmaceutical industry.
The correction was forced finally by explicit criticism posted in the BMJ electronic responses from the US New York based charity the Alliance for Human Research Protection [AHRP]. This was in addition to public outcry in a deluge of emails from parents of children with autistic conditions in the USA and elsewhere.
It should have gone further. A clear statement should have been made in the next available journal to follow and it should be presented in every printed edition and on the home page of the online edition for every edition.
They tried to minimise their very serious error by some circumspect reasoning described by AHRP as “startling”. The BMJ editors claimed “We didn’t declare these competing interests because it didn’t occur to us to do so“. Mildly put that shows that editorial diligence and forethought was lacking.
That in itself should have been enough to retract the journal articles … that was their contention with Andrew Wakefield.
Couple that with witness and institutional conflicts of interest not revealed or elaborated to the general public and the possible ethical breaches of patient confidentiality then one wonders how this still remains in the public arena.
What Does This Mean For You, Your Children, Your Family, British Doctors And The Wider Medical Professions
You cannot trust your doctor and you cannot believe him or her. When you visit your doctor he or she is part of this. He or she is sitting back and letting this go on under his or her nose without complaining – keeping silent – saying nothing. He or she is the person prescribing for you and your children and families drug industry products which kill and injure because they have not been tested properly like Vioxx and vaccines and/or because they are useless, but he or she is happy to enjoy the money earned doing that. He or she is the person who gets your private medical information but you cannot trust them with it because he or she sits back and does nothing when children’s medical records are illegally disclosed and used by a journalist who then writes about them in the British Medical Journal.
He or she is a member of The British Medical Association, the doctors’ trades union, or one like it outside the UK.
The BMA is a symbol of our morally and politically sick society.
The BMA sits back and takes the substantial profits of wrongdoing from its own journal, the British Medical Journal. The BMA’s official line is that it does not control the running of the BMJ and its stable of other journals and pretends to the public and patients it can do nothing about it. The BMA is a politically powerful organisation with the British government but pretends it cannot control its own house journal mailed every week to all of its members. But if the BMA cannot control its own house journal, guess who can exercise control over the BMA? Yep, BMJ Editor-in-Chief Dr Fiona Godlee is a Chief Officer of the BMA: [BMA Chief Officers]. Her name appears first on the BMJ Editorial falsely accusing Dr Andrew Wakefield of fraud.
Over and above all that, the BMA is a trades union. It does not represent you or your children or your wider family when it comes to health. It is there to get and keep money in the pockets of its members, and it looks like when it comes to the BMJ and the drug industry, it really does not care how it does that.
And when the BMA makes public statements on health matters and lobbies the British government for what it wants, you can be sure that is not done with you the patient, your children and family in mind, even if that is claimed to be the case.
The current Chairman of the BMA is Professor David Haslam and the Chairman of The BMA Council is Dr Hamish Meldrum: BMA Chief Officers.
Dr Meldrum’s résumé says:
… he is keen to ensure that both the organisation and the profession are well prepared to meet the challenges of ensuring that doctors are supported and fairly rewarded in delivering the highest possible quality care to their patients and that the NHS remains true to its founding values and principles in an increasingly complex environment.
His interests, outside medicine and medical politics, when he has time, include sport (watching lots and participating in keep fit, tennis, swimming and dormant golf), hill-walking, photography, music (quite varied tastes), cooking (also varied tastes) and wine.
It does not say anything about maintaining the reputation of the British medical profession for high standards of ethics and probity. Enjoy your “dormant golf” Dr Meldrum. With all those outside sporting interests Dr Meldrum’s time is clearly taken up with a lot of balls. With so many in the air, has he dropped the BMJ’s?
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