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Wakefield struck off

25th May 2010

The General Medical Council has found Dr Andrew Wakefield guilty of "serious professional misconduct" and has struck him off their register.

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Andrew Wakefield was the head author of an infamous report published in The Lancet in 1998 which linked the MMR vaccine with autism.

The research and the press coverage caused many parents to stop their children having the MMR jab.

National uptake of the MMR vaccine fell to 79% from 91% prior to 1997. There were 98 cases of measles in England and Wales 1998, when the report was published, and 1,144 in 2009.

The GMC finally decided he was guilty of repeatedly breaching "fundamental principles of research medicine" in the report after 217 days of consideration by a five person panel.

The GMC said Dr Wakefield disregarded children's comfort and carried out painful tests such as lumbar punctures which were not clinically necessary.

Dr Wakefield demonstrated "multiple separate instances of serious professional misconduct" yet in spite of this he exhibited a "persistent lack of insight" into how serious his actions were, the panel said. 

He will not be able to practice as a doctor in the UK, although he now lives in America.

His colleague, Professor John Walker-Smith was also struck off the register for his "extensive failures", "non-compliance with ethical research requirements" and his "irresponsible and misleading" account of the research.

Dr Wakefield has said he will appeal against the decision and has 28 days to lodge his appeal.

 

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