New Evidence Refutes Fraud Findings in Dr. Wakefield Case

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Dr. Mercola

In February 1998, the Lancet published Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s case series of a group of autistic children with gastric problems, which has become one of the most controversial studies in medicine because part of the patients’ story included regression after receiving the MMR vaccine.

The debate is a heated one, as the study suggests there may be a link between the MMR vaccine, bowel disease and autism.

In an interview I conducted with Dr. Wakefield in 2010, he said he knew he was about to enter treacherous waters when the study was published, and he expected the inevitable backlash from the vaccine industry.

However, “backlash” is putting it mildly, as Dr. Wakefield’s reputation was completely smeared.

The latest revelations in this controversy add yet another twist, and suggest that a series of articles published by the BMJ in January 2011 alleging that Wakefield falsified data, making the original Lancet article fraudulent, were in fact the inaccurate ones …

New Investigation Defends Wakefield’s Lancet Study

At the heart of the Wakefield controversy has been whether or not the children in the study were, in fact, diagnosed with non-specific colitis, or if that information had been fabricated — allegations that were largely initiated by investigative journalist Brian Deer.

Writing in the BMJ, research microbiologist David Lewis, of the National Whistleblowers Center, explains that he reviewed histopathological grading sheets by two of Dr. Wakefield’s coauthors, pathologists Amar Dhillon and Andrew Anthony, and concluded there was no fraud committed by Dr. Wakefield:

“As a research microbiologist involved with the collection and examination of colonic biopsy samples, I do not believe that Dr. Wakefield intentionally misinterpreted the grading sheets as evidence of “non-specific colitis.” Dhillon indicated “non-specific” in a box associated, in some cases, with other forms of colitis. In addition, if Anthony’s grading sheets are similar to ones he completed for the Lancet article, they suggest that he diagnosed “colitis” in a number of the children.”

In a press release, Lewis continued:

“The grading sheets and other evidence in Wakefield’s files clearly show that it is unreasonable to conclude, based on a comparison of the histological records, that Andrew Wakefield ‘faked’ a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Now that these records have seen the light of day, it is time for others to stop using them for this purpose as well. False allegations of research misconduct can destroy the careers of even the most accomplished and reputable scientists overnight. It may take years for them to prove their innocence; and even then the damages are often irreparable. In cases where mistakes are made, every effort should be taken to fully restore the reputations and careers of scientists who are falsely accused of research misconduct.”

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