Make us your home page

Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Autism vaccine study retracted as 'utterly false'



I doubt this is going to cool down the debate over autism and vaccines but it' s breaking news that what the scientific community has long suspected was a faulty study has been retracted. The medical journal The Lancet today retracted a controversial 1998 paper that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. The research subsequently had been discredited, and the study's lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research.

But I'm already seeing comments online that this is just another victory for Big Pharma, squashing studies that are outside the mainstream.

Lancet editor Richard Horton told the UK's Guardian  that he realized as soon as he read the General Medical Council findings that the paper, published in February 1998, had to be retracted. "It was utterly clear, without any ambiguity at all, that the statements in the paper were utterly false," he said. "I feel I was deceived."

The question is, how much damage has this faulty study done?

Scientists in this story like Dr. David Elliman said popular media and blogs ignored the call at the time for caution over the findings. 

"I think the reality of the world today is that academic papers on major public health issues do not remain the property of academia. Therefore it is incumbent on us all in science, in journals and in the media to be very certain of the strength of a study before rushing to publish, and to be aware of the potential effects."

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:05am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours