In January, the General Medical Council (GMC) made known its findings into the conduct of Dr Andrew Wakefield over the MMR scare which he sparked, and which saw measles infection rates shoot from a few dozen in 1998 to around 1500 last year. The GMC did not mince its words: Wakefield’s conduct was “dishonest”, “irresponsible” and “callous”, and they strongly criticised the way he presented an unproven theory as a major public health issue. The GMC also condemned Wakefield’s concealment of his interests in patents and legal work which gave him a strong incentive to prove a link between MMR and autism.
The GMC’s verdict came at the end of a two and a half year medical misconduct inquiry in which Dr Wakefield and two colleagues were charged with offences relating to their research into alleged links between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism in children.
The GMC did not pass comment on the validity of Wakefield’s theories, but it condemned in the strongest terms the unethical invasive tests, such as lumbar punctures and colonoscopies, which Wakefield carried out on children who did not need them. Dr Wakefield rejected the findings as unfounded and assured his followers that “the science will continue”. He is expected to be struck off the medical register when the GMC gives its ruling in a few months’ time.
For the full story of the “Wakefield witch-hunt”, make sure you get your copy of the March/April issue of SEN Magazine. To subscribe to SEN Magazine click here