Discredited vaccine-autism doc sues critics | MassDevice.com On Call

January 6, 2012 by MassDevice staff

Dr. Andrew Wakefield, whose now-debunked research sparked the vaccines/autism debate, files a defamation suit against the British Medical Journal and one of its investigative reporters.

MassDevice On Call

MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Dr. Andrew Wakefield, whose infamous 1998 research paper in The Lancet found a link between childhood vaccinations and autism, filed a defamation suit against the British Medical Journal and an investigative journalist over a series of articles published last year.

The articles by Brian Deer disclosed discrepancies between a Lancet study and the children's medical histories. Deer also unearthed financial ties between Wakefield and lawyers fighting against vaccine firms.

Commentaries by BMJ editor Fiona Godlee went so far as to charge Wakefield with deliberately "alter[ing] numerous facts about the patients' medical histories in order to support his claim to have identified a new syndrome," according to Medpagetoday.com.

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After The Lancet formally retracted the paper in February 2010, U.K. authorities stripped Wakefield of his license to practice medicine there, finding that he had been "intentionally dishonest and misleading."

Wakefield filed the lawsuit against Deer and BMJ in his adopted town of Austin, Texas, calling the articles "unfair, incorrect, inaccurate, and unjust."

The infamous doctor denied seeing some of the records cited by Deer in his articles before releasing his 1998 paper, saying it would thus have been impossible for him to deliberately mis-state their contents.

Wakefield has sued the publication in British courts in the past, according to the website. Wakefield was responsible for dropping each of the previous cases.