Our thoughts have turned to Dr Andrew Wakefield, whose research findings of a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism have been discredited.
As you may recall, a Sunday Times journalist discovered that a few of the 12 children in Wakefield’s study programme were also taking part in a different study being funded by the Legal Aid Board. The consequence of all this, according to the journalist who was acting as judge and jury, was that Wakefield’s conclusions were tainted, and suspect.
So why have we started thinking about Dr Wakefield again? Well, we happened on a new study that found that 40 per cent of all studies published in two medical journals in 2001 had conflicts of interest. They were either directly funded by the drug company whose drug was being tested, or some of the researchers were in the employ of the drug company concerned.
This would seem to be a clearer case of discredited research than anything undertaken by Dr Wakefield.
But have these studies been similarly dismissed? Perhaps we just missed it.
(Source: Journal of Internal Medicine, 2004; 19: 1).