An 'exhaustive investigation' by the London Sunday Times has revealed that Dr Andrew Wakefield, who put forward the theory that the MMR vaccine could cause autism, was at the time being funded by solicitors who were seeking evidence to use against the vaccine manufacturers.
In effect, Dr Wakefield was being hired as an expert witness, not unusual for any specialist. But to leap from that to the conclusion that the link between MMR and autism was 'entirely flawed', as suggested by the journalist involved, seems a step too far.
It also raises the ethical standard to a level that would find most of medicine lacking. Most medical studies are funded by a pharmaceutical company, the ultimate beneficiary of the findings, while the medical bodies which evaluate the safety and efficacy of drugs are filled by experts who have shares in pharmaceutical companies or who sit on their boards.
The UK's chief medical officer of health, Dr Liam Donaldson, said that, even leaving aside any possible conflict of interest, medical experts have always felt that Wakefield's hypothesis was bad science. This would be experts such as those on the Medical Research Council, which has reviewed Wakefield's findings on three separate occasions. Its most recent review, in 2001, concluded that there was no evidence of a causal link.
Yet, some of these experts act as advisors to the vaccine manufacturers. As one apologist put it: 'It was inevitable that the vaccine manufacturers would seek advice from leading authorities in the field (who happen to sit on the MRC). These have only become advisors to the drug companies because of the allegations against MMR.'
In other words, they are expert witnesses, just as Dr Wakefield is for the parents whose children have been permanently damaged. If Dr Wakefield's findings are fatally flawed because of his expert witness status, then the MRC conclusions must be equally flawed. We await a full exhaustive investigation.
* At WDDTY, we've always maintained that a possible link with autism is only one of the areas of concern about the MMR vaccine. Our accusation that the UK government has constantly misled the British public about the safety of the vaccine has never been answered. To discover more about the vaccine, and the government's role in a cover-up, read our Vaccination Bible and special report, What the Government Doesn't Tell You About the MMR Vaccine. To order both today, click on this link: http://www.wddty.co.uk/shop/details.asp?product=335