I know I said I’d probably chill this weekend and not post anything new until after New Years, but another thing showed up in my in box that–shall we say?–inspired me to post another quickie. It’s Medscape’s list of the Physicians of the Year: Best and Worst. It starts with the worst, and guess who shows up first?

Andrew Wakefield, who is described thusly:

Wakefield’s MMR-Autism Vaccine Study an “Elaborate Fraud”

In January, the BMJ published a series of 3 articles and editorials charging that the study published in The Lancet in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield (pictured above) and colleagues linking the childhood measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to a “new syndrome” of regressive autism and bowel disease was not just bad science but “an elaborate fraud.” Wakefield was planning to market a diagnostic testing kit with expected yearly sales of 28 million pounds (US $43 million) as well as immunotherapeutics and a “safer single measles shot,” for which he held a patent. The third article in the BMJ series claimed that the medical establishment “closed ranks” to protect Wakefield.

Thank you, Brian Deer, from the bottom of my heart.

It’s instructive to see who some of the other worst doctors of 2011 are, according to Medscape. Here are some of them:

  • Medicare fraudsters, ten physicians who, along with around 80 accomplices, falsely billed Medicare for around $295 million.
  • Dr. Rolando Arafiles, an incompetent physician who abused his position as a physician in a tiny rural hospital in Texas to sell supplements and, when two nurses complained, got the sheriff (also his business partner) to find out who these nurses were, leading to their being wrongfully fired. The sheriff did go to jail. One thing the news media didn’t report is just how into serious quackery Arafiles was. Unfortunately, Arafiles unfortunately did not go to jail, though he richly deserved to, in my not-so-humble opinion.
  • Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician who gave Michael Jackson his propofol.
  • Gerald J. Klein, MD and 13 other doctors charged with selling opiods.
  • Kermit Gosnell, MD, who was charged by a Pennsylvania grand jury with the murder of 7 newborn infants and a Bhutanese immigrant named Karnamaya Mongar, who died of cardiac arrest in 2009 following a Demerol overdose dispensed by unlicensed, untrained, and unsupervised clinic employees, among other things.
  • Mark Midell, MD, who implanted hundreds of unneeded stents when he worked at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland.

Yes, I do think that Dr. Wakefield is deserving of being in such “august” company.

Comments

  1. #1 Delurked lurker
    January 2, 2012

    Of course I should have written:

    ‘Wakefield as a convicted fraud deserves his place at the head of the scumbag alt quack wacko tinfoil hat brigade. Brian Deer did not convict Wakefield a a statutory tribunal of the UK general medical council did. No amount of you shooting the messenger is going to change this fact.’

    Instead of:

    ‘Wakefield as a convicted fraud deserves his place at the head of the scumbag alt quack wacko tinfoil hat brigade. Brian Deer did not convict Wakefield a court of law did. No amount of you shooting the messenger is going to change this fact.’

  2. #2 Matthew Cline
    January 2, 2012

    @Antaeus Feldspar:

    1) Brian Deer’s account of Child 11 is wholly inaccurate.

    2) Wakefield was not accused of or caught in any form of wrongdoing that did not involve Child 11.

    I think what he’s implying is more like:

    1) Brian Deer’s account of Child 11 is wholly inaccurate.

    2) If his account of Child 11 is wholly inaccurate, what else did Deer get wrong?

  3. #3 Sauceress
    January 2, 2012

    #196 Duh

    I have been able to show that the father of child 11 agrees with me that the timeline went like this

    Not so. You have proved nothing of the sort.

  4. #4 LW
    January 2, 2012

    ” If his account of Child 11 is wholly inaccurate, what else did Deer get wrong?”

    What difference does it make? Deer is a reporter. A very good reporter to whom we are indebted for making sure this didn’t get swept under the rug, but a reporter.

    Wakefield was investigated by a duly established panel and struck off by the action of that panel, and his paper was retracted because of the findings of that panel. If Deer made an error in reporting the events (and I’m not going to assume he did just on Olmsted’s say-so), so what? That doesn’t alter the investigation by the panel, nor does it alter the results of that investigation, nor does it alter the actions of that panel. Obsessing about whether Deer did or did not make an error in reporting is absurd.

  5. #5 Lawrence
    January 3, 2012

    @Herp/Derp – if Olmsted actually had some evidence & given his vaccine position, love-affair for Wakefield, and desire to please his fan-base, he would be screaming it from the tops of the highest mountains.

    Since he has not & has instead moved on to other anti-vaccine crankery (besides the usual ad hominem attacks against pro-vaccine personalities), I would suspect that the cubboard is empty. So, move on, nothing to see here….

  6. #6 dt
    January 3, 2012

    Bit late to the party, sorry.

    Doh/Duh/Huh/Jake Crosby said that the father of child 11 backed up Wakefield’s “timeline” of when his symptoms developed…
    (…my turn to say “Huh?”, or more appropriately, “WTF?”)

    Facts:
    The father said the autistic symptoms started 3 months after the MMR vax.
    Wakefield said they started within a week.

    Liar.

  7. #7 Brian Deer
    January 3, 2012

    @ LW. Thanks for your kind words. But, in one respect, you are kind of falling foul of an MMR fallacy that anti-vaxxers have promoted over the years. It’s splitting the difference: “Oh, well, even if, then…” and it’s giving a concession, perhaps out of tiredness with it all.

    I did not make a mistake. My first BMJ report (and the previous Sunday Times material) was premised on conflicts between medical records and Wakefield’s claims in the Lancet. It was never to retrospectively diagnose, but rather to present contemporaneous documentary evidence, which is generally of phenomenal probative value.

    This is a classic issue in vaccine litigation. Parental accounts are almost invariably different to what was recorded at the time. There is an interesting literature on the comparative primacy of contemporaneous records versus human recall, and I won’t bore you with it.

    In the case of child 11, where Wakefield claimed the child to have suffered his first “behavioural symptom” of autism “1 week” after MMR (to create a purported 14-day “temporal link” for the litigation which was paying him £150 an hour), there are medical records indicating developmental concerns before he was vaccinated. These I reported, and the father acknowleges that they say what I said they say.

    Subsequent to publication, he produced a letter he wrote to Wakefield in 1997 in which, contrary to the records, he dated the onset months, not days, after MMR. He supplied me with this letter a few months back, after having told the blogger with the Moonie links that Wakefield’s paper was “a complete fabrication”, and asking for privacy. (The blogger didn’t respect this).

    The father’s recollection does not prove the records wrong, or show me to be a liar, or to have made a mistake, or anything of the sort that the antivaxxers would have you believe. Had he produced the letter prior to my reports, I’d have eagerly added another paragraph to my piece, even though it was already almost impractically long for print. Indeed, elsewhere, I’ve sought to highlight variations between records and parental recollections, because this, too, is an important aspect of vaccine claims (and I think of medical practise generally).

    Astoundingly, after I accused Wakefield of falsely reporting cases in the Lancet paper (in The Sunday Times in 2009), he changed his account of child 11 again, claiming, in his “book” that the boy’s first behavioural symptoms were months after MMR, but without mentioning that the story had been changed again.

    So you get the following situation. The Lancet said the boy’s first behavioural symptoms started a week after MMR. That went into the 14-day temporal link to trigger the MMR vaccine scare, and all that followed. It was critical to unlocking the millions that funded the whole thing.

    But, in fact, nothing ever evidenced that, and nobody at all now even asserts it. The records don’t. The parent doesn’t. I don’t. Wakefield doesn’t. And nor does the Moonie blogger.

    So, since the records and the parental letter are absolutely clear – and neither can be squared with the paper – Wakefield either intentionally misrepresented the boy’s case in the Lancet, or he made the “1 week” claim with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity. In civil litigation, that amounts to the same thing.

    And this is just a tiny part of what went on…

  8. #8 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 3, 2012

    @Matthew Cline:

    1) Brian Deer’s account of Child 11 is wholly inaccurate.

    2) Wakefield was not accused of or caught in any form of wrongdoing that did not involve Child 11.

    I think what he’s implying is more like:

    1) Brian Deer’s account of Child 11 is wholly inaccurate.

    2) If his account of Child 11 is wholly inaccurate, what else did Deer get wrong?

    Even if he goes that direction, though, he’s still dependent on the premise “All our evidence of Wakefield’s wrongdoing comes through Brian Deer,” which is utterly false.

  9. #9 LW
    January 3, 2012

    Krebiozen @127 said, “As Deer once pointed out, he just told the GMC where the bodies were buried and they dug them up.”

    Wakefield’s defender puts me in mind of someone reading the account of the murder trial in which Deer reports where each body was found and then leaping up to say, “No! Olmsted says body number 11 was found three feet east of where Deer says! Three feet east, do you hear me? And that invalidates all of Deer’s reporting and the entire murder trial and conviction so my guy is completely innocent! Why won’t you listen to me?”

  10. #10 Denice Walter
    January 3, 2012

    To sum up here**- and repeat myself:

    We have perseveration upon *trivialities* because looking at the whole picture is much too disturbing to AJW’s supporters ( esp those @ AoA)- the BMJ articles fit in with other SB lit- prior to and following the original paper, they unmask motivation, they show *evidence*, they were fact checked ,reviewed, studied by the courts and the GMC, and above all: they make sense.

    ** I find it lovely that scoffers @ RI continually illustrate my points. I should thank them.

  11. #11 Duh?
    January 3, 2012

    “Wakefield’s defender puts me in mind of someone reading the account of the murder trial in which Deer reports where each body was found and then leaping up to say, “No! Olmsted says body number 11 was found three feet east of where Deer says!”

    Actually guys… child 11 is only one of his mistakes. You can’t continue on though until you systematically go through each one and recognize the errors that Deer has made.

  12. #12 Lawrence
    January 3, 2012

    @Herp/Derp – and what would they be again & what evidence do you have (besides Olmsted’s word – which again, contains no actual evidence)?

    You are an exercise in futility…..

  13. #13 Yet another lurker
    January 3, 2012

    @Duh? (204): Okay, I’ll play. Deer made a mistake with the date. Even if correct this doesn’t invalidate Deer’s other findings, doesn’t touch the findings of the GMC or absolve Wakefield of falsifying data in this case, but okay, I’ll go along with your statement.

    Now that’s out of the way, I’m interested to see the next “one of his mistakes”. Hopefully it’s better than this trivial mistake you’ve decided to focus on first that in no way invalidates the strength of the case against Wakefield.

  14. #14 Lawrence
    January 3, 2012

    @Herp/Derp – now that Brian Deer has responded with more detailed information (and in my mind, he certainly did not have to) proving your assertion to be incorrect, I look forward to your critical analysis of Olmsted’s falsehoods.

  15. #15 Krebiozen
    January 3, 2012

    You can’t continue on though until you systematically go through each one and recognize the errors that Deer has made.

    I suppose the Lancet made the same errors in retracting Wakefield’s paper, and the GMC made all the same errors despite spending years looking at written evidence and interviewing witnesses, and the BMJ failed to spot all Deer’s errors, as did the editorial and legal processes of three major UK media groups. Not only that but the researchers who tried and failed to replicate Wakefield’s work were all in error too.

    I suppose we have a choice between believing that all these well-qualified and otherwise reliable people were in error or that Wakefield’s supporters are a bunch of idiots who would still proclaim Wakefield’s innocence while he was beating them over the head with a colonoscope. Not a difficult choice from where I’m sitting…

  16. #16 Chris
    January 3, 2012

    Duh?:

    Actually guys… child 11 is only one of his mistakes. You can’t continue on though until you systematically go through each one and recognize the errors that Deer has made.

    Then now please explain why you are ignoring Dr. Brent Taylor? What was his mistake?

  17. #17 Denice Walter
    January 3, 2012

    I asked Jake: is it more likely that all of these people ( journalists, doctors, editors, media, professional associations, universities, courts, governments) are in on a gigantic, over-arching conspiracy that *spans the Atlantic* and more than *a decade* or that a doctor fixed data?

    They carry on even more @ AoA today. I have paper work to do. So long.

  18. #18 Lawrence
    January 3, 2012

    @Denise – I saw that. More trying to “connect the dots” through any and all potential points of contact, even if they don’t really have anything to do with one another. They can’t get their heads out of the idea that this is some kind of worldwide conspiracy (that would have to involve literally hundreds of thousands of people).

  19. #19 Rtcontracting
    January 3, 2012

    Duh?:

    Actually guys… child 11 is only one of his mistakes. You can’t continue on though until you systematically go through each one and recognize the errors that Deer has made.

    Indeed. Lest we forget that spelling error…

  20. #20 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 3, 2012

    Actually guys… child 11 is only one of his mistakes. You can’t continue on though until you systematically go through each one and recognize the errors that Deer has made.

    That’s false. We can continue on using only evidence for which we have independent confirmation, not dependent on Deer in other words, and using only that evidence we can clearly see that Wakefield is guilty of serious misconduct.

  21. #21 trrll
    January 3, 2012

    Actually guys… child 11 is only one of his mistakes. You can’t continue on though until you systematically go through each one and recognize the errors that Deer has made.

    In a report as lengthy and complicated as Deer’s investigation, it is almost impossible to avoid errors. But if Deer has made any, you haven’t provided any evidence of it. You have a hearsay account from an unreliable source that a parent’s memory of events many years ago does not match the medical records. Even if this is accurate, it is almost certainly just poor memory. It is well established that people often remember events in a way that “makes sense” to them instead of what actually happened, and reversal of the sequence of effects and supposed causes is not at all unusual. This is known to be particularly common in the case of autism and vaccinations.

    Considering your reluctance to talk about anything other than patient 11, it seems clear that you think this is your best shot. And it is pretty lame.

  22. #22 lilady
    January 3, 2012

    Huh and Duh have absolutely no proof that anyone other than the mad Moonie “journalist” reported contact with the parent of child #11. So why don’t they restrict their berating questioning to Olmsted…after all he is reportedly the last person to have had contact with the parent?

    We look at the thorough reporting of Brian Deer and the verification of all his facts by an assortment of editorial boards and the GMC and compare it to the wild ravings of Olmsted…who is not fact-checked by any editorial board or administrative body of inquiry, and reach the logical conclusions:

    Wakefield original lied about the proximity of the onset of symptoms to be qualified as an expert witness for the proposed lawsuit against the manufacturers of the vaccine that the child received. Wakefield then changed the date of the onset of symptoms…for “the record”…when found out by Deer.

    Olmsted, who reigns supreme at AoA without any fact-checking from any editorial boards or administrative hearing boards, concocts a story about contacting the child’s parent and weaves it into his expose of Deer’s treachery.

    Huh and Duh continue to post at RI with not one iota of “proof” except what the Moonie editor has written and they deserve the same amount of attention that we afford Olmsted.

    Time to shut down these trolls.

  23. #23 lilady
    January 3, 2012

    @ Denice Walter: I saw that blog of Jake’s on today’s edition of AoA.

    Jake, with his “unique” form of “connect-the-dots/six, sixty or six hundred degrees of separation” journalism is now attacking Sanjay Gupta. Jake’s sole reason for this attack is that Gupta finally trashed Wakefield.

    Jake has “linked” Gupta’s trashing of St. Andy to Dr. Gupta’s participation in the popular movie “Contagion”. Is it just me, or are we watching the further deterioration of this young man into sheer lunacy?

    Jake’s paranoia has nothing to do with his being on or off “the spectrum”…and everything to do with his Wakefield “fixation”. Why don’t his parents intervene to get this kid some help with his mental problems?

  24. #24 dt
    January 3, 2012

    It’s quite pathetic really, the level of argument that Jake (aka “Doh”) and his AoA cronies (John xxx Stone) have stooped to.

    The nature of their vindication of Wakefield has sunk to the point where the discovery that the gardener who used to cut Brian Deer’s hedge once bought a copy of the Times newspaper in 1994 is loudly trumpeted as confirming the global conspiracy against Wakefield.

  25. #25 MikeMa
    January 3, 2012

    Jake has become a very sad, deluded young man. He fits well within the AoA cocoon but is unable to work well outside that twisted, protected environment. I posited that ?uh? might be Olmsted but it might also be Jake. Either way the party is over.

  26. #26 Lawrence
    January 3, 2012

    It is very sad, but typical behavior of someone with a paranoid personality disorder – the more you hit them with facts that contradict their own views, the further they retreat into a netherworld of conspiracies and paranoid delusion.

  27. #27 Matthew Cline
    January 3, 2012

    @lilady:

    Jake has “linked” Gupta’s trashing of St. Andy to Dr. Gupta’s participation in the popular movie “Contagion”.

    What, really? *checks Age of Autism* Oh, wow. The mention of the movie is right there in the title of his article.

  28. #28 lilady
    January 3, 2012

    @ dt: “The nature of their vindication of Wakefield has sunk to the point where the discovery that the gardener who used to cut Brian Deer’s hedge once bought a copy of the Times newspaper in 1994 is loudly trumpeted as confirming the global conspiracy against Wakefield.”

    Why are you telling that story NOW…I happen to know, through a fourth cousin who is a friend of the gardener’s daughter-in-law, that the gardener was reading the Times newspaper as recently as 2002…not 1994 as you “allege”. Are you a paid “stringer” for Orac or an undercover agent for the CIA?

  29. #29 dt
    January 3, 2012

    @lilady: It gets worse. I hear that Deer also went to Tesco’s supermarket one day in 1998 – just when Wakefield published his article! Coincidence or what???!!
    And guess who was serving at the checkout? None other than the friend of a girl whose father had 300 shares in Hewlett Packard, which as we know also produces laptops which might have been used by journalists! I don’t think the conspiracy can get any deeper, really.

    (and Jake, I give you the OK to turn the above statement into another AoA article about the Wakefield uberconspiracy, if you so please)

  30. #30 Denice Walter
    January 3, 2012

    @ dt:

    Well, you’ve probably given him top flight material for his next few articles. Maybe he’ll write a novella. After my fandango with him @ RI, I threw in a FYI blurb- to see if he would concoct a story out of my relationship with the FTSE & the NYSE, having blonde hair, & other nearly random distractors .-btw- He really is not a fan of prose or of me.

    Truth be told: he never wrote up his adventures @ RI for AoA. And we’ve seen very little of him since ( although he has appeared once or twice). I wonder why?

  31. #31 Roger Kulp
    January 3, 2012

    Sheepmilker@99 It will be interesting to see what the “vaccination causes autism” crowd will do when the true cause(s) of autism is/are found. Incidentally, the causes will be found by scientists and medics, not blog trolls.

    We don’t need to ask,when there is stuff like this out on teh interwebz

    If I am not mistaken .. thimerosal .. the once commonly used mercury based vaccine preservative .. is quite capable of mutating genes.

    In other words .. instead of seeking a “drug” to repair mutated genes .. why not conduct research seeking to identify and remove all chemicals that our children being exposed to that can induce a gene to mutate?

    http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2011/03/21/scientists-create-autism-like-traits-in-mice/comments

  32. #32 Raincitygirl
    January 4, 2012

    In other words .. instead of seeking a “drug” to repair mutated genes .. why not conduct research seeking to identify and remove all chemicals that our children being exposed to that can induce a gene to mutate?

    Because, silly, without mutations there would be no superpowers. It’s like you’ve never seen a single X-Men movie.

  33. #33 LW
    January 4, 2012

    Brian Deer @201: “But, in one respect, you are kind of falling foul of an MMR fallacy that anti-vaxxers have promoted over the years. It’s splitting the difference: “Oh, well, even if, then…” and it’s giving a concession, perhaps out of tiredness with it all.”

    I do apologize if I gave the impression that I was splitting the difference or giving a concession. I was not. I was only trying — quixotically, I’m sure — to get through to Wakefield’s defender that your accuracy and veracity (about which I have no doubt) are irrelevant to Wakefield’s being found to have committed fraud, among other things, to Wakefield’s being struck off, and to his paper being retracted. If they want to defend Wakefield, they need to attack the findings of the panel, not your reporting.

  34. #34 The court of public opinion
    January 4, 2012

    Wakefield is suing them! Perhaps you are wrong.

  35. #35 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 4, 2012

    We could play the “perhaps” game all day and night, but what matters is not what Wakefield claims to have as far as exculpatory proof, but what he can show. In his libel lawsuit against Deer he ended up not only losing the lawsuit but paying Deer’s costs, and in the GMC hearing he didn’t put forth any defense. Claiming that these two things happened while Wakefield was holding all the trump cards is close to full-bore lunacy.

  36. #36 lilady
    January 4, 2012

    Actually…Wakefield practically begged the court for a “continuance” of his lawsuit against Deer, as the “discovery before trial” would have revealed Wakefield’s complete and utter duplicity and fraudulent study findings.

    As I recall, after Wakefield offered absolutely no defense of the charges brought by the GMC and the GMC issued its ruling, Wakefield did “discontinue” the lawsuit against Deer and was ordered to pay all of Brian Deer’s court costs.

    BTW, Wakefield has been found guilty of all charges in “The court of public opinion”…get yourself a new ‘nym.

  37. #37 Lawrence
    January 5, 2012

    We can now guess why Herp/Derp was attempting to engage Deer on here….

  38. #38 Mark M
    January 5, 2012

    Are people still trotting out the “it’s got MERCURY in it!” line?

    No it hasn’t. It has a mercury salt in it. Completely different properties to elemental (‘raw’) mercury and completely non-toxic.

    That’s why you can happily cover your dinner with sodium and chlorine. Both poisonous elements by themselves, but quite tasty when combined to make good old table salt.

    Basic chemistry, it’s just too complicated for anti-vaxxers…

  39. #39 Vicki
    January 5, 2012

    Roger Kulp–

    On the off chance you’re serious, you’d have to start by never letting anyone outdoors during the day (ultraviolet light is a mutagen), which in turn means putting everyone on vitamin D supplements for life. Then you can take on all the industries that are dumping potentially mutagenic substances into the air children breathe. And stop burning coal for energy: coal ash is radioactive.

    Of course, without mutations, we’d almost certainly be single-celled organisms, and have no internet to argue over.

  40. #40 Anton P. Nym
    January 5, 2012

    It gets worse, Vicki; free radicals can damage DNA as well as UV light, so you’d have to have everyone avoid oxygen. Naturally that’d be 100% effective at preventing cancer… though I suspect everyone would agree that the cure (asphyxiation) is worse than the disease.

    — Steve

  41. #41 Prometheus
    January 6, 2012

    Even worse! The most common cause of DNA damage (serious damage – abasic sites) is water! Not “heavy water” or “activated water” or even “succussed water” – plain old aitch-two-oh.

    So, if you stay away from UV light, avoid all reactive chemicals (including and especially oxygen) and don’t consume any water, you can significantly reduce your chance of DNA damage (not to mention your chance of offspring).

    Prometheus

  42. #42 Anton P. Nym
    January 6, 2012

    Accursed dihydrogen monoxide… is there nothing it does not destroy? #banDHMO

    — Steve

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