Do you think pharmaceutical companies have too much influence in the laws, policies, and regulations of our government? We do.
Do you think pharmaceutical companies do things that most Americans would view as unethical to protect their profits? We do.
In a court case in Australia involving the use of the drug Vioxx, it was proven that Merck (the manufacturer of Vioxx) “made a hit list of doctors who had to be "neutralised" or discredited because they criticised the anti-arthritis drug the pharmaceutical giant produced."
In fact, a Merck employee wrote in an email concerning these doctors: "We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live."
This isn’t the stuff of conspiracy theories, this isn’t the stuff of cynics or crazy parents, this is court-documented behavior of Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world who happens to also be the manufacturer of one of the world’s most profitable vaccines, the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella).
The recent decision by the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom against Andy Wakefield shouldn’t surprise anyone who understands the stakes, profits, and reputations at risk in the debate over vaccines and autism.
The sole purpose of the GMC’s ruling this week is to try and quell the growing concern of parents that the expanding vaccine schedule and the remarkable rise in autism are correlated. The GMC will no doubt be helped by a press that barely understands the debate and has never read any of the dozens of studies published by Dr. Wakefield in many different respected medical journals.
Dr. Wakefield’s journey began with twelve children with autism. Like many of our kids, all twelve of them regressed into autism, and eight of the parents blamed their child’s regression on the MMR vaccine, just as tens of thousands of other parents do.
Having heard the stories of thousands of other parents, we can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard the same exact story about regression after MMR.
Dr. Wakefield, a highly respected gastroenterologist in the UK, was presented with the cases of these twelve children who had all regressed into autism and were all experiencing severe gut pain. He felt it was his duty to investigate the concerns of these parents and figure out what had happened to their children. In this interview with CBS News (please watch it), Dr. Wakefield recounts:
“The conclusion was that there is a bowel disease in children with autism which is new which has not been investigated before, that this may well be related to the developmental regression since they occurred around the same time and that the parental association with MMR exposure needed to be thoroughly investigated.”
Dr. Wakefield’s study, which we hope all journalists will take the time to read, was published in February 1998, twelve years ago. Nowhere in the study does Dr. Wakefield tell parents not to vaccinate their children, despite rampant misreporting on this topic.
It has taken twelve long years for the medical community to catch up with Dr. Wakefield’s findings. Finally, just last month, in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal, Pediatrics, a landmark consensus report was published with the finding that:
“Gastrointestinal disorders and associated symptoms are commonly reported in individuals with ASDs [autism].”
Thanks, AAP, we’ve known that for more than a decade thanks to Dr. Wakefield!
This month, a study published in Autism Insights became public and went one step further: it replicated the findings of Dr. Wakefield’s paper from twelve years ago, finding once again that the majority of children with autism studied, in this case 143 children, suffered from severe bowel disease -- read the full study by Dr. Arthur Krigsman et al. HERE.
You will hear that Dr. Wakefield’s other study authors retracted their findings (they didn’t).
You will hear that this ruling somehow implies the MMR is safe for all children (it doesn’t). You will hear that this ruling somehow means that vaccines and autism are unrelated (again, it doesn’t).
What we think the GMC and pharmaceutical companies fail to realize is that every time this debate makes the headlines, parents win. The truth about what is being done to our kids is evident to anyone who takes the time to look just one layer below the headlines. When the debate makes the front page again, our community grows.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield is perhaps this debate’s greatest hero. He’s a doctor who has held onto the truth, unbowed, through pressure that would break most mortals. Dr. Wakefield’s influence in saving other children from the fate that befell so many children is incalculable.
While the GMC’s ruling was completely expected, we are all blessed to have the unexpected courage of Dr. Andy Wakefield watching over our children.
With great respect and admiration,
January 28, 2010