By Dr. Andrew Wakefield (See a .pdf here.)
On Wednesday April 7th, General Medical Council (GMC) lawyers will demand that I and likely two other doctors involved in the MMR-autism case should be erased from the UK’s medical register, removing our license to practice medicine. Doctors’ regulators have found the three of us - Professor John Walker-Smith, Professor Simon Murch and me - guilty of undertaking research on children with autism without approval from an ethics committee.
We can prove, with extensive documentary evidence, that this conclusion is false.
Let me make it absolutely clear that, at its heart, the GMC hearing has been about the protection of MMR vaccination policy. The case has been driven by an agenda to crush dissent that in my opinion serves the government and the pharmaceutical industry — not the welfare of children. It’s important to note that there has never been a complaint against any of the doctors by any parent involved in this case — only universal parental support and gratitude.
My colleagues, Professors Walker-Smith and Murch, are outstanding pediatricians and pediatric gastroenterologists. They have led the field of pediatric gastroenterology for decades, devoting their lives to caring for sick children. Our only “crime” in this matter has been to listen to the concerns of parents, act according to the demands of our professional training, and provide appropriate care to this neglected population of children. It is unthinkable that at the end of an unimpeachable career, Professor Walker-Smith would even consider unethical experimentation on children under his care.
In the course of our work, we discovered and treated a new intestinal disease syndrome in children with autism, alleviating suffering in affected children around the world. This should be cause for celebration. Instead, we have been vilified in the press, and demonized by a wasteful PR campaign by the Department of Health. The aim of this negative publicity was to discredit my criticism of vaccine safety research.
Sadly, my colleagues have suffered severe collateral damage in this effort to prevent valid scientific enquiry. They should be exonerated, and left alone with their reputations intact, in the certain knowledge that they have done only what is right.
The loss of my own medical license is, unfortunately, the cost of doing business. Although I do not take this loss lightly, the suffering - so much of it unnecessary - that I have seen among those affected by this devastating disease makes the professional consequences for me a small price to pay by comparison.
As long as a question mark remains over vaccine safety; as long as a safety-first vaccine policy is subordinate to profit and self-interest; as long as the benefits of vaccines are threatened by those who have compromised public confidence by denial of vaccine damage, and as long as these children need help; I will continue my work.
Dr Andrew Wakefield is an academic gastroenterologist, committed to understanding more about the role of intestinal inflammation and dysfunction in childhood developmental disorders. He is involved in a new initiative, focused specifically on issues of autism causation. His book Callous Disregard comes out in May 2010.