Most of you reading this post have not been following this story for as long as I have. However, you may be familiar with the buzz it created.
To get you up to speed: A small report on 12 patients was published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, back in 1998 regarding a concern that the combination Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine (MMR) was associated with autism. While the results of the study were not conclusive or statistically significant, the media reports on that study WERE significant. Parental fear about the MMR vaccine led to vaccine refusal, dropping immunization rates, and an eventual resurgence of measles.In 2004, 10 of the 13 original researchers on that paper (comically, there were more researchers involved than patients), withdrew their claim that there was a possible connection between MMR vaccine and autism. They said in a statement, "In this paper, NO CAUSAL LINK was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient...now is the appropriate time that we should together formally retract the interpretation of the data suggesting a link." This was a partial retraction of the study, however, because 3 researchers continued to stand by their study.
In February 2009, this now famous MMR study received another critical blow. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a report that examined this study in relationship to families suing for vaccine injury compensation. The special master, George Hastings, presiding over the case had this to say, "Unfortunately, the [family] have been misled by physicians who are
guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment."
Last week, after more than a year of investigation, Britain's General Medical Council found the lead researcher on the paper to be guilty of 30 charges of medical misconduct. And the other two steadfast researchers on that MMR paper were also found guilty of medical misconduct.So, when the editor of the Lancet medical journal yesterday said enough already and formally retracted the 1998 MMR vaccine study from the published record, my response was...finally, what took you so long!
I can't tell you how many hours I have spent explaining this ongoing saga to families who hear bits and pieces of this study and the aftermath of it. And, then more time having to encourage them to protect their kids from very real, very serious infectious diseases.
Time to close this ugly chapter of poor medical research that gets published and irresponsible journalists who bought into it. Goodbye MMR study.