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MMR Scare Doctor To Be Given Verdict On Research

January 28, 2010

The doctor who first suggested the link between MMR vaccinations and autism is to hear whether he is guilty of unethical research practices.

Dr Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet study prompted one of the biggest health scares for years.

It caused vaccination rates to plummet, resulting in a rise in measles – but the findings have now been discredited.

However, the General Medical Council case has focused on how he carried out his research – which he stands by.

During the two-and-a-half year series of hearings – the longest in the regulator’s history – Dr Wakefield was accused of dishonesty and poor standards.

‘Invasive tests’

It was alleged he carried out invasive tests on children which were against their best clinical interests and paid children £5 for blood samples at his son’s birthday party.

The GMC also heard that he failed to declare a conflict of interest as he was said to have been in the pay of solicitors acting for parents who believed their children had been harmed by MMR.

MMR is the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine which was introduced in the late 1980s
In 1998 the Lancet published a study, led by Dr Andrew Wakefield, which linked the jab with autism and bowel disease
It has since been discredited and the Lancet has said it should not have run it
A newspaper subsequently made allegations about the way the research was carried out
The GMC launched an investigation, which then led to a series of charges and the two-and-a-half-year hearing

If the case is proven against Dr Wakefield, who now works and lives in the US, the GMC will then consider whether he is guilty of serious professional misconduct and if he should be struck off the medical register. However, that ruling is not expected for some months.

Dr Wakefield’s case has been heard alongside those of two former colleagues, Professor John Walker-Smith and Professor Simon Murch.

They worked with Dr Wakefield at London’s Royal Free Hospital at the time and were among the 13 authors of the study.

All three have denied the charges of professional misconduct.

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