Doctor behind MMR scare struck off
The doctor at the centre of an MMR vaccine row in the UK was today struck off the medical register.
Andrew Wakefield was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council (GMC) at a hearing in central London.
He 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, bowel disease and autism, the GMC said.
Furthermore, he “abused his position of trust” and “brought the medical profession into disrepute” in studies he carried out on children.
The GMC said there had been “multiple separate instances of serious professional misconduct”.
He showed a “callous disregard” for the suffering of children and subjected some youngsters to unnecessary tests, the GMC said.
The controversy arose when he published research suggesting a possible link between the MMR vaccine, bowel disease and autism.
The study, which appeared in The Lancet medical journal in 1998, sparked a massive drop in the number of children given the triple jab for measles, mumps and rubella.
The GMC panel ruled Dr Wakefield went against the interests of children in his care in conducting the research.
The GMC said he ordered some children to undergo unnecessary colonoscopies, lumbar punctures (spinal taps), barium meals, blood and urine tests and brain scans. Yet none of the children met the criteria for inclusion in the research and none of the doctors had ethical approval to investigate them.
The GMC heard Dr Wakefield took blood from his son’s friends at the birthday party, paying them £5 each, before joking about it during a US presentation in March 1999. He also submitted an application for funding from the Legal Aid Board but failed to disclose that some of the costs would have been met by the NHS anyway.
The GMC panel said Dr Wakefield’s actions in relation to the money were “dishonest” but said he did not use it for his personal gain.
Dr Wakefield was an honorary consultant in experimental gastroenterology at London’s Royal Free Hospital at the time of his research.
The GMC hearing, which heard from 36 witnesses, has reportedly cost in excess of £1 million.
In February, Dr Wakefield (53) left his role at Texan clinic The Thoughtful House Centre for Children, which he founded to study developmental disorders.