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The General Medical Council vs. Wakefield, Walker-Smith, and Murch

Posted Jan 27 2010 12:00am

Dr. Andrew Wakefield suit headshot This week, we are running several posts about the UK General Medical Council Hearing. To learn more, click the Dr. Andrew Wakefield and UK/John Stone categories on the left sidebar. The following is an excerpt reprinted with permission from Autism File magazine.

By Andrew Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, FRCPath

The research reported by you in The Lancet was substantially different from that for which approval was granted by the Ethical Practices Sub-Committee in that it related to:

i) Children with a diagnosis of autism and not disintegrative disorder ...

Your actions were ... inappropriate, not in the best interests of patients, not in accordance with your professional ethical obligations, likely to bring the medical profession into
disrepute, and fell seriously below the standard of conduct expected of a registered medical practitioner.

The foregoing is a charge made by the General Medical Council in 2004. The subject matter was “That Paper” (see also The Autism File, 2009; Issue 33) – The Lancet paper
of 1998 that first reported intestinal disease in children with developmental regression. Notwithstanding the fact that in his enthusiasm Mr. Dobson got the wrong Ethical Sub-
Committee approval1 and the wrong research protocol for the wrong children… …there is so much more to this esoteric charge than meets the eye, and the “more” deserves scrutiny.

Let’s rewind to 1995-7, armed with the enduring adage “if in doubt examine the patient.” Among the presenting clinical features of The Lancet children were some that were
apparently uncharacteristic of autism, at least as it was generally understood at that time. For all 12 children, these included normal or near-normal early development, a clearly delineated onset of behavioral/developmental symptoms, and loss of previously acquired skills. In addition, four children had become incontinent after previously having been potty-trained, while seven children had developed obvious clumsiness (ataxia), a motor symptomclearly indicative of central nervous system dysfunction (encephalopathy).

Read the full article in .pdf format from Autism File HERE.


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