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MMR doctor begins defence

27th March 2008

Dr Andrew Wakefield - the doctor who first linked the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella, and autism - has defended the way he carried out his research.

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The doctor has also stressed that he adhered to official Royal College of Physicians guidelines and that his motivation was that he wanted to help treat and prevent autism after worried parents approach him.

His research led to publication of his work in a paper in The Lancet in 1998, which sparked an immunisation crisis as public confidence in the MMR jab fell.

But he has now been accused of professional misconduct though he and two colleagues, Professor John Walker-Smith, and Professor Simon Murch, deny the charges.

Dr Wakefield, 51, is accused of violating ethical guidelines, of acting against the clinical interests of the children who took part in his trial, and of acting dishonestly in failing to disclose to The Lancet that he was advising solicitors acting for parents who had alleged their children had been damaged by MMR.

The GMC hearing heard that Dr Wakefield, who is now working in America, developed a hypothesis with colleagues that linked MMR and autism and decided to conduct clinical studies to establish the validity of it.

Dr Wakefield maintains that at the time, he was not aware that some parents were taking legal action.

“The parents contacting me was nothing to do with litigation, and litigation was not my primary concern,? he said.

It was also stressed that the hearing was not examining the safety of MMR.

 

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