Oh Deer…

31 Jan

Apart from people who have boosted Andrew Wakefield’s discredited and dishonest wild theories about MMR vaccine over the years (Lucy Johnston, Melanie Phillips, Fiona Phillips et al), one journalist will forever be associated with Wakefield: Brian Deer.

Brian Deer is no shill for the pharmaceutical industry. Back in the 90s he tackled the harms of Septrin (a widely prescribed antibiotic), and later went on to tackle Merck over Vioxx. Brian has pursued Wakefield in the same way as he carried out his investigations of “big pharma”. Not that this has protected him from allegations about his motivations, his detractors being unable to accept that a journalist might investigate the Wakefield hoax without help from “big pharma” or a conspiring UK government. Melanie Phillips alleged he was part of a witch hunt, although she was incorrect. Last year, the increasing lunatic fringe of the UK’s anti-vaccine movement alleged Brian’s sexuality was the reason for his investigative reporting:

By all accounts a gay man and therefore unlikely ever to have to face the multiple vaccine risk agonised over by parents from around the world in relation to their children, Brian Deer has made it his business to portray the parents of these autistic vaccine damaged children as deluded mendacious chancers.

We now know that the man with callous disregard for children’s welfare was the man they have supported; Andrew Wakefield. He had a financial conflict of interest. He treated children unethically. He exposed children to “high-risk” procedures without ethical approval and against their best clinical interests [Here’s an example of what can happen].

Brian was also subjected to a libel action brought against him by Wakefield, the current toy of the rich (Wakefield leads a comfortable life in Texas now, working at a quack treatment centre for £170,000 a year). In an article at the Sunday Times today, Deer talks of the benefits of exposing Wakefield.

Wakefield will probably never admit to his errors. But exposing his methods has been worthwhile, according to medical sources.

“People can’t understand whether a scientific study is valid or invalid,” said a senior doctor who had watched vaccination rates slump, even in the face of endless research on MMR safety. “But they can understand ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, and they can understand ‘honest’ and ‘dishonest’.”

Lawyers have told me that any one of the more than 30 charges that were proved against Wakefield would typically lead to his being struck off. His days as a medical practitioner will soon be history. A further hearing will determine whether “serious professional misconduct” was committed.

Yet more troubling for Wakefield’s future are his prospects for research, or at least of getting it published.

“Any journal to which a researcher shown to be dishonest submitted a paper would reject it,” said Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, this weekend. “They would say, ‘This man can’t be trusted’. His career as a researcher is effectively over.”

On the latter point, I’m not so sure. His days as a real researcher are over, but he and his friends already have a plan to tackle that obstacle.

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7 Responses to “Oh Deer…”

  1. codeman38 January 31, 2010 at 17:31 #

    The most headdesk-worthy criticism of Deer that I saw had to be that by liberal pundit Keith Olbermann, who ate up the antivax crowd’s bait hook, line and sinker.

    In short: in one episode of Countdown, he named Wakefield the worst person in the world. And then in the next episode, upon realizing (thanks to David Kirby) that Wakefield wrote for the Murdoch-owned Times, reversed that and put Brian Deer on the list instead. (I’ll admit to having my issues with Murdoch too, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day…)

  2. Oriel January 31, 2010 at 20:32 #

    I’m not sure Brian Deer would want to be the journalist forever associated with Wakefield but I suspect that will be the case anyway. Apart from doing a magnificient job of outing a very unsavoury man of dubious character, now identified as having a callous disregard for the pain and suffering of children, Brian has made a further huge contribution to society as a whole. Parents were understandably confused and very concerned to learn, courtesy of Dr Wakefield, that there may be an association between the MMR vaccination and ASD/IBD. Influenced by Wakefield’s notion, many parents turned their backs on the MMR vaccine leaving scores of children at risk from measles, mumps and rubella. The corresponding slump in the uptake of the vaccine led to outbreaks of measles and mumps throughout the UK. Encouraged by Brian Deer’s excellent articles uncovering the truth behind the scare and further studies failing to replicate Wakefield’s research, parents have slowly reclaimed their faith in the MMR vaccine.Once again generations of children will be protected from these vaccine preventable diseases and Brian Deer has played a big part in that. Sadly, through it all, he has been the victim of abuse,including a suggestion that his sexuality in some way renders him ignorant of parental concerns concerning vaccination. On the contrary, he has consistently acknowleged the dilema faced by parents in respect of vaccination and has made a huge contribution to bringing vaccination levels back to where they were in the pre Wakefield era, by dispelling the myths. Despite many attempts by his enemies to cast him as the villain of the piece and suggestions that he is devoid of feelings for the children’s plight and suffering, he’s not the one identified by his regulatory body as having a callous disregard for the suffering of children, is he?

  3. codeman38 February 2, 2010 at 20:27 #

    …Er, in my above comment, that should of course read “that Deer wrote for the Times“. No idea why my fingers typed Wakefield.

  4. livsparents February 3, 2010 at 00:53 #

    Hey, I’m going to have to sue for copyright infringement:

    http://livsjourney.blogspot.com/2009/03/oh-deer.html

    Let’s just dispose of the carcass and move on…

  5. Michael Polidori February 3, 2010 at 20:42 #

    Regarding your comments about Deer not being a shill for Big Pharma because he “tackled” Merck on Vioxx… you obviously are unfamiliar with the facts. Deer reproted the same storyline Merck was/is promoting. That Merck voluntarily withdrew the drug when it “discovered” in a 2004 trial that it caused cardiac events.

    In Australia ongoing litigation over Vioxx deaths is revealing the true picture. Merck knew all along that Vioxx was killing people, even in the trials before it was released in 1999. Merck covered up the deaths “hoodwinking” the New England Journal of Medicine with falsified data and threatening doctors and scientists who dared to expose the drug for the killer it was.

    Merck finally withdrew the drug when David Graham, Associate Director for Drug Safety, went against his FDA supervisors and in 2004 published a study exposing cardic events caused by Vioxx. He sought whistleblower protection, as his supervisors began to “go after” him attempting to discredit his research. Eric Topol and Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic also felt the sting of Merck’s attacks when they published a study in JAMA in 2000 about Vioxx’s cardiac risks. The FDA turned a blind eye to their research and the work of 6 others who Merck tried to silence, while fabricating more studies declaring Vioxx safe.

    Merck went so far as to bribe Elsevier to publish FAKE MEDICAL JOURNALS in Australia, hawking it’s products. It was revealed that Elsevier published 8 other fake journals, with 13 more in the works, all abandoned now, or so we are led to believe.

    Merck finally was forced to withdraw it’s killer a month after the FDA approved it for use in children, but they were “allowed” to voluntarily recall it. Making 11 billion in worldwide sales, Merck offerred 4.5 billion to settle as many as 180,000 injuries including up to 60,000 deaths. Still trying to step over the graves of its customers and make a profit.

    Since Deer did not in 2005, nor in the years since, expose this side of the story, and merely reported the undeniable facts that Merck cannot dispute, and praised Merck for voluntarily withdrawing the drug, I would say he is definitely a shill.

    • Andrew January 9, 2019 at 01:18 #

      Brian Deer’s article from 2005 is here https://briandeer.com/vioxx/vioxx-special.htm

      A quote: “The core question is why the firm took so long to act. In papers disclosed for the litigation, company e-mail chatter discussing fears of cardiovascular risks dates back to 1997. In that year researchers from London’s Royal Brompton hospital warned that Vioxx-type drugs could trigger heart attacks.”

      Note how it reports exactly the information that Michael Polidori claims was _never_ reported by Deer.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - Oh Deer… « Left Brain/Right Brain -- Topsy.com - February 2, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev, Irene Burton, chokha, Brandon Blietz, autism_hub and others. autism_hub said: New post: Oh Deer… http://bit.ly/cKKdwt […]

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