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The Lancet’s two days to bury bad news

Published on Jan 18, 2011in BMJ 27.60
· DOI :10.1136/bmj.c7001
Brian Deer7
Estimated H-index: 7
In the third part of a special BMJ series, Brian Deer reveals what happened when he reported misconduct in Andrew Wakefield’s MMR research to the medical journal that published it Preparing to give evidence in London to a UK General Medical Council fitness to practise panel, Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet , nodded in turn to three accused doctors, seated among their lawyers to his left. First, Simon Murch, almost close enough to touch. Next, John Walker-Smith, more distant. Finally, Andrew Wakefield, at the far end of the hearing room. Each smiled thinly and nodded back. The four had last met together three and a half years before, at the Lancet ’s offices, nearly two miles north. There they had begun the journey that now brought their reunion in this, the longest medical disciplinary inquiry ever. Running for 217 days, between July 2007 and May 2010, it would probe the research and a paper that launched the MMR vaccine scare, and would lead to Wakefield and Walker-Smith being struck off.1 2 Their previous encounter was in 2004, on the afternoon of Wednesday 18 February. They had gathered in Horton’s office to deal with an approach from me concerning a four month Sunday Times investigation. For five hours that morning, I had briefed the Lancet ’s senior staff about a now notorious 1998 paper in their journal.3 It reported on 12 children seen at the Royal Free hospital, north London, and claimed to have discovered a possible “new syndrome” involving regressive autism, inflammatory bowel disease, and MMR. Mostly I had stood, occasionally pulling documents, as Horton, with five editors, took notes. I told them that the paper’s first author, Wakefield, was retained by a lawyer and was funded to help sue vaccine manufacturers. Admissions criteria for the study …
  • References (10)
  • Citations (30)
Published on Jan 1, 2012
Deborah Hirtz45
Estimated H-index: 45
Ann Wagner13
Estimated H-index: 13
+ 1 AuthorsElliott H. Sherr1
Estimated H-index: 1
Published on Jan 14, 2011in BMJ 27.60
Brian Deer7
Estimated H-index: 7
In the second part of a special BMJ series, Brian Deer reveals a secret scheme to raise huge sums from a campaign, launched at a London medical school, that claimed links between MMR, autism, and bowel disease
Published on Mar 1, 2004in The Lancet 59.10
J A Walker-Smith37
Estimated H-index: 37
(UCL: University College London)
Published on Mar 1, 2004in The Lancet 59.10
Simon H. Murch24
Estimated H-index: 24
Published on Mar 1, 2004in The Lancet 59.10
Richard Horton54
Estimated H-index: 54
Published on Mar 1, 2004in The Lancet 59.10
Humphrey Hodgson36
Estimated H-index: 36
We are entirely satisfied that the investigations performed on the children reported in the Lancet paper had been subjected to appropriate and rigorous ethical scrutiny. Because the nature of the condition affecting child behaviour and gastroenterological symptoms was unknown and required elucidation, the investigation of these children was properly submitted to and fully discussed by the Ethical Practices Committee at the Royal Free Hampstead in 1996. Specifically, that committee was a sub-comm...
Published on Mar 1, 2004in The Lancet 59.10
Andrew J. Wakefield28
Estimated H-index: 28
Published on Jan 1, 2003
Richard C. Horton1
Estimated H-index: 1
Richard Horton, for many years editor of "The Lancet", examines the history of the relationship between doctor and patient, from ancient times to present day. The essays cover subjects including: the impact of modern warfare on health services; the debate over euthanasia; controversies over HIV and Aids; the human genome project; and the debate over the gay gene. Horton's introduction explores the significance of the Hippocratic oath, with particular reference to the Harold Shipman murders.
Published on Feb 1, 1998in The Lancet 59.10
Aj Wakefield25
Estimated H-index: 25
(Royal Free Hospital),
Simon H. Murch24
Estimated H-index: 24
(Royal Free Hospital)
+ 10 AuthorsPeter Harvey5
Estimated H-index: 5
(Royal Free Hospital)
Summary Background We investigated a consecutive series of children with chronic enterocolitis and regressive developmental disorder. Methods 12 children (mean age 6 years [range 3–10], 11 boys) were referred to a paediatric gastroenterology unit with a history of normal development followed by loss of acquired skills, including language, together with diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Children underwent gastroenterological, neurological, and developmental assessment and review of developmental reco...
Published on Sep 15, 1999
Kenneth F. Swaiman20
Estimated H-index: 20
Stephen Ashwal14
Estimated H-index: 14
In two volumes, this book addresses the range of neurological diseases that can occur from birth to adolescence. All the information has been updated and revised with new chapters on epilepticus, mitochondrial encephalomyelopathies and peroxisomal disorders.
Cited By30
Published on Jan 1, 2018
Matthew Z. Dudley3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Johns Hopkins University),
Daniel A. Salmon34
Estimated H-index: 34
(Johns Hopkins University)
+ 4 AuthorsSaad B. Omer43
Estimated H-index: 43
(Emory University)
Vaccines do not cause autism. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), now called the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), concluded that the body of evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between autism and MMR vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccine. MMR vaccine also prevents rubella disease, thus preventing congenital rubella syndrome and its associated cases of autism.
Published on Mar 1, 2017in The Lancet 59.10
Fiona Godlee32
Estimated H-index: 32
Published on Oct 1, 2016in Perspectives on Science
Maya J. Goldenberg9
Estimated H-index: 9
Public resistance towards scientific claims regarding vaccine safety is widely thought to stem from public misunderstanding (or ignorance) of science. Repeated failures to alleviate this ignorance make the problem of vaccine hesitancy seem intractable. I challenge this presumption of knowledge deficit and reinterpret vaccine hesitancy to be a problem of public mistrust of scientific experts and institutions. This finding invites new corrective measures: self-scrutiny by our scientific and govern...
Published on Oct 1, 2016in Journal of Neurochemistry 4.87
Jörg B. Schulz53
Estimated H-index: 53
(RWTH Aachen University),
Mark R. Cookson72
Estimated H-index: 72
(NIH: National Institutes of Health),
Laura Hausmann6
Estimated H-index: 6
(RWTH Aachen University)
One of the aims of basic neuroscience research is ultimately the development of therapeutics to cure diseases. Funders granting money to research institutions increasingly express interest into how their financial resources are used and look for successful translation in clinical practice. Disappointingly, many findings that started out promising in basic research projects and phase I trials did not live up to the promise of therapeutic efficacy in later phase II or III trials. An inordinately h...
Published on Jan 1, 2016
Sergio E. Lew7
Estimated H-index: 7
Hernan Rey12
Estimated H-index: 12
Resumo. Nao importa o quao util, complexa ou surpreendente seja uma descoberta relacionada com o cerebro, ela afeta magicamente a opiniao publica. Para alem do entendimento dos mecanismos neurais estao a cura de doencas neurologicas e psiquiatricas e, ainda mais atraente, o poder de compreender e modificar o comportamento das pessoas. Enquanto os avancos tem sido informados a comunidade cientifica atraves de meios tradicionais, o publico em geral receber estas noticias atraves da midia. Neste tr...
Published on Jan 1, 2016
Daniel A. Salmon34
Estimated H-index: 34
(Johns Hopkins University),
Neal A. Halsey60
Estimated H-index: 60
(Johns Hopkins University)
Abstract Safety expectations for vaccines are high because they are administered to healthy and sometimes vulnerable populations. Also, vaccines are endorsed and required by most governments. Although no biologic or medical intervention is perfectly safe, vaccines are generally very safe and the risks of side effects are almost always greatly outweighed by the benefits derived from vaccination to prevent disease. Vaccine safety is evaluated at all stages of development, including preclinical ani...
Published on Jul 1, 2014in Technical Communication Quarterly
Lauren R. Kolodziejski1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UW: University of Washington)
This study reveals the discursive origins of the Autism MMR vaccine controversy through a rhetorical examination of the 1998 Wakefield et al. article. I argue the very practices of scientific publishing, specifically the tradition of hedging, help to create a scientifically acceptable text but also leave discursive gaps. These gaps allow for alternate interpretations as scientific texts pass from technical to public contexts, enabling insufficiently supported claims the standing of scientific kn...
Published on Feb 1, 2014in Autism 3.90
Ghassan Kuwaik2
Estimated H-index: 2
Wendy Roberts64
Estimated H-index: 64
+ 6 AuthorsJessica Brian30
Estimated H-index: 30
Background:Parental concerns persist that immunization increases the risk of autism spectrum disorder, resulting in the potential for reduced uptake by parents of younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (“younger sibs”).Objective:To compare immunization uptake by parents for their younger child relative to their older child with autism spectrum disorder (“proband”) and controls.Design:Immunization status was obtained for 98 “younger sibs,” 98 “probands,” and 65 controls.Result...
Published on Jan 1, 2013
David M. Salisbury , Rebecca Martin2
Estimated H-index: 2
+ 1 AuthorsPier Luigi Lopalco4
Estimated H-index: 4