I should stop being shocked and amazed at how little groups like the Age of Autism blog think of their readership. Sorry to put it so bluntly, but it is pretty clear that they expect us all to just read what they have to say and never go to the original sources and think for ourselves.
Case in point, the GMC hearing on Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Dr. Wakefield was guilty of ethical violations in the treatment of his disabled patients. Not once, not twice but many many times. But you wouldn’t know that to read some of the reports on the blogs and even a couple in newspapers.
We have the NAA SafeMinds and TACA telling us all about how bad this ruling is. We have been told that there was “false testimony”.
OK, take a look at the actual charges. Just for a moment. Here are a few examples
1) Dr. Wakefield took money from the Legal Aid Board (LAB) for procedures paid by the NHS. He then diverted some of the LAB money to other projects.
2) Dr. Wakefield got ethical permission to do his study in December 1996, only on patients enrolled after that date. However, he had already started research on children. Here are two examples:
Child 2 had an MRI, colonoscopy and lumbar puncture in September of 1996.
Child 1 was also a research subject without ethical approval. Tests were performed which were not in the clinical interests of the child.
3) For people who promote the myth that “the only thing he did was start early”, note that Dr. Wakefield’s team did invasive tests that were not called for. For example:
Child 3 was also a research subject without ethical approval, having started before the approval. He underwent a lumbar puncture even though: “The Panel has taken into account the fact that there is no evidence in Child 3’s clinical notes to indicate that a lumbar puncture was required.”
Was this the result of some “false testimony? According to the GMC ruling, experts on both sides stated that the lumbar puncture was not clinically indicated.
Experts on both sides, Professor Rutter and Dr Thomas both considered that such a test was not clinically indicated.
Dr. Thomas is not accused by the defenders of Wakefield as “giving false testimony”.
The above are only a few of the examples of clear misconduct on the part of Dr. Wakefield.
How many times must a man be found guilty of not doing what was in his patients’ clinical interests before we are allowed to consider him as, well, someone who doesn’t always put his patient’s clinical interests first?
Kim Stagliano has taken to the Huffington Post with “The Censorship of Autism Treatment“. No mention of the actual charges. No mention of the fact that Andrew Wakefield was guilty. No mention of the fact that Andrew Wakefield’s research efforts for the past 12 years have centered on repairing his own damaged reputation, not on autism treatment.
Can you find a single mention of the word “ethics” in her post? How about any comment about the actual charges levied against Dr. Wakefield?
You know you are in trouble just with the title from this story: MMR doc’s just guilty of caring . At least that article makes one clear statement:
It [the GMC ruling] focused on the methods of research used, some of which were undoubtedly questionable, but which were performed in the name of finding solace for desperate parents convinced their children had changed for ever following their one-size-fits-all MMR injection.
Yes, you can be unethical if you are “finding solace for desperate parents”.
A blog post by the National Autism Association stated:
“Many parents of children with autism view the GMC investigation as little more than character assassination of a physician brave enough to investigate controversial issues”
Well, not this parent. Anyone who paints the GMC investigation as “character assassination” didn’t read the ruling. Seriously, trying to dismiss this fact-filled ruling as “character assassination” is just plain bizarre.
another post comments, discussing the work Dr. Wakefield’s team performed on his study subjects:
the procedures involved were routine
No children were harmed and no parent or guardian has complained about the care these three men provided.
Lumbar punctures are hardly “routine”. Further, there is no reason to do them if not clinically indicated. Colonoscopies are not routine, especially in patients whose symptoms don’t warrant them. Say, as in Child 1.
One child suffered a perforated bowel (in 12 places!). His family won a lawsuit against the Royal Free hospital.
High Court papers alleged that the colonoscopy procedure performed on Jack in 1998 was ‘not clinically indicated or justified’. They also claimed the ‘principal reason’ for the surgery was to further research into links between autism and bowel conditions rather than Jack’s clinical needs.
How does that not count as not “harmed”? Is it because he wasn’t one of the original 12 from the study in The Lancet?
The behavior of the Wakefield supporters is totally predictable. They have no science. They have no first (or second) tier researchers. They rely heavily on Dr. Wakefield. Who else has the perceived stature of Dr. Wakefield for them? When Brian Deer broke the story that Dr. Wakefield may have “fixed” data in his study last year, there was an immediate reaction from the Wakefield supporters: give him faux awards! Make him the keynote speaker at their conventions!
For the past year the message has been “Dr. Wakefield has not been discredited”. They’ve lost that now.
We’ve been warned that they are bringing out their big guns. Yes, David Kirby will blog about this on the Huffington Post. With apologies to Mr. Kirby, but when he’s their “ace in the hole”, you know they don’t have much.
As I finished this, David Kirby came up with his post: “The Lancet Retraction Changes Nothing”. Joining in the style of the times, Mr. Kirby also ignores the actual GMC ruling. Nothing that actually defends Dr. Wakefield against the real charges.
Seriously, go read for yourself. It’s David Kirby with his usual talking points and straw men.
I hope David Kirby is wrong. I hope that things have changed. I hope that the future is a world where the loudest voices in the autism communities fight for a better life for autistics, rather than for a political goal of recognition for bad science, badly done.