Andrew Jeremy Wakefield
(born 1957) is a British former surgeon and medical researcher, known for his fraudulent 1998 research paper in support of the now-discredited claim
that there is a link between the administration of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine,
and the appearance of autism
and bowel disease.
Four years after the publication of the paper, other researchers' results had still failed to reproduce
Wakefield's findings or confirm his hypothesis of a relation between childhood gastrointestinal disorders and autism.
A 2004 investigation by Sunday Times
reporter Brian Deer
identified undisclosed financial conflicts of interest
on Wakefield's part,
and most of his co-authors then withdrew their support
for the study's interpretations.
The British General Medical Council
(GMC) conducted an inquiry into allegations of misconduct
against Wakefield and two former colleagues.
The investigation centred on Deer's numerous findings, including one that autistic
children were subjected to unnecessary invasive medical procedures,
such as colonoscopy
and lumbar puncture
, and that Wakefield acted without the required ethical approval from an institutional review board
On 28 January 2010, a five-member statutory tribunal of the GMC found three dozen charges proved, including four counts of dishonesty and 12 counts involving the abuse of developmentally challenged children.
The panel ruled that Wakefield had "failed in his duties as a responsible consultant", acted both against the interests of his patients, and "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in his published research. The Lancet
immediately and fully retracted his 1998 publication on the basis of the GMC?s findings, noting that elements of the manuscript had been falsified.
Wakefield was struck off
the Medical Register in May 2010, with a statement identifying dishonest falsification in The Lancet
and is barred from practicing medicine in the UK.
In January 2011, an editorial accompanying an article by Brian Deer in BMJ
identified Wakefield's work as an "elaborate fraud".
In a follow-up article,
Deer said that Wakefield had planned to launch a venture on the back of an MMR vaccination scare that would profit from new medical tests and "litigation driven testing".
In November 2011, yet another report in BMJ
revealed original raw data indicating that, contrary to Wakefield's claims in The Lancet
, children in his research did not have inflammatory bowel disease.
Wakefield's study and public recommendations against the use of the combined MMR vaccine were linked to a steep decline in vaccination rates in the United Kingdom and a corresponding rise in measles
cases, resulting in serious illness and fatalities.
Wakefield has continued to defend his research and conclusions, saying there was no fraud, hoax or profit motive.