Doctor who linked autism to vaccine struck off

A “DISHONEST” doctor at the centre of an MMR row will be struck off the medical register, the General Medical Council (GMC) ruled yesterday.

Andrew Wakefield was found guilty of serious professional misconduct at a hearing in central London.

The 53-year-old is expected to appeal the decision, which is effective within 28 days.

A GMC panel ruled Dr Wakefield acted in a way that was “dishonest”, “misleading” and “irresponsible” while carrying out research into a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and bowel disease and autism. Furthermore, he “abused his position of trust” and “brought the medical profession into disrepute” in studies on children.

In a statement, Dr Wakefield said: “In reporting their findings, the GMC panel sought to deny that the case against me and my colleagues is related to issues of MMR vaccine safety and, specifically, the role of this vaccine in causing autism.

“Efforts to discredit and silence me through the GMC process have provided a screen to shield the Government from exposure on the (Pluserix) MMR vaccine scandal.”

Another doctor involved in the research, Professor John Walker-Smith, 73, was also found guilty of serious professional misconduct and struck off the medical register. Professor Simon Murch, was found not guilty.

Dr Wakefield caused controversy when he published a study suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and bowel disease and autism. The research, which appeared in The Lancet medical journal in 1998, sparked a massive decline in the number of children given the triple jab.

Ten of the study’s authors later renounced its conclusions and it was retracted by the Lancet in February.

Yesterday, the GMC described how Dr Wakefield took blood from his son’s friends at a birthday party, paying the youngsters £5 each, before joking about it during a US presentation.

“In causing blood samples to be taken from children at a birthday party, he callously disregarded the distress young children might suffer and behaved in a way which brought the profession into disrepute,” panel chairman Dr Surendra Kumar said.

The GMC hearing, lasting 217 days, heard from 36 witnesses and cost more than €1.16m and is the longest in GMC history.

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