Updated on 1/7/2011 9:18:55 AM.
In response to an editorial published in the British Medical Journal accusing Andrew Wakefield of fraud in his 1998 study of the MMR vaccine and autism, VKC Member BethAnn McLaughlin, Ph.D., provided the following comment to ABC News:
“The field of autism research has been deeply impacted over the last 13 years by Wakefield’s acts of deliberate fraud. Billions of donated and taxpayer dollars were spent on countless studies disproving Wakefield’s false claims. This debacle has turned the scientific community against itself by questioning the reasons this paper was published in the first place and why quality work disproving Wakefield’s work did not receive equal play in the media or in scientific publications.
Even with the enormous loss of time and money, the greatest loss we have suffered at the hands of Andrew Wakefield is, in my opinion, the divide it has created between creative, motivated, and honest scientists working to help cure a terrible disorder and the families affected by autism. Wakefield stoked a fire encouraging families to have an inherent distrust of the scientific process. When Wakefield’s results were questioned, he encouraged the growth of a vast predatory market peddling supplements, unproven therapies, and remedies that had not been tested and had no basis in science, based on the assertion that scientists were part of a ‘massive cover-up.’ Nothing could be further from the truth, and I fear that this kind of loss of faith will lead us as a country further away from being pioneers in science in medicine. I cannot imagine a punishment well-suited for a man who has done so much to damage the credibility of the scientific community and repeatedly hurt children and families. It’s a disgrace by all measures.”
McLaughlin is an assistant professor of Neurology and Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University.
Go to www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452 to read the BMJ editorial.
Jan Rosemergy can answer your media-related questions or help connect you to one of our science or disability professionals.
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