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Should ‘Science Betrayed’ BBC Producer have Disclosed Conflict?

Science Betrayed By John Stone

Adding to the tangle of undisclosed conflicts in the BBC’s radio documentary ‘Science Betrayed’ in March, which re-cycled the allegations of Brian Deer and the British Medical Journal against Andrew Wakefield, it appears that one of the producers of the show, Alexandra Feachem, is the daughter of a leading professional beneficiary of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sir Richard Feacham. Sir Richard in a letter to BMJ in 2009  - in which he argued for public private partnerships in global health – disclosed the following relationship HERE

“RF leads the Global Health Group, an action tank at the University of California San Francisco, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and ExxonMobil. The Global Health Group is in part dedicated to the understanding and development of the role of the private sector in health systems strengthening.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a high profile role in the promotion of the global vaccine industry and schedule. In an interview in February Mr Gates told Sanjay Gupta of CNN (HERE ):

“Well, Dr. Wakefield has been shown to use absolutely fraudulent data. He had a financial interest in some lawsuits. He created a fake paper. The journal allowed it to run.”

This is in line with the allegations of the programme and the BMJ but well exceed the findings of the General Medical Council against Andrew Wakefield and colleagues, which remain under appeal before the High Court by Prof John Walker-Smith. The BBC’s rules on disclosure state (HERE ):

"It is important that the personal, commercial, business, financial and other outside interests of BBC staff do not compromise their BBC role. The onus is on the journalist, content producer or on-air talent to let the BBC know if they (or in certain circumstances their family or close personal contacts) have any outside interests which could be perceived as a conflict of interest."

It is evident that if Ms Feachem divulged this conflict to her employers, neither she nor they thought to tell listeners.

As reported in Age of Autism previously, the programme failed to disclose conflicts of other contributers:

- Prof Mark Pepys and University College London, who are in business partnership MMR manufacturers (and former defendants GlaxoSmithKline) (HERE ).

-Dr Fiona Godlee and BMJ, who are in business partnership with MMR manufacturer (and former defefendants) Merck, through its information division Univadis, and who are sponsored by both Merck and GSK in their annual awards (HERE ).

-Brian Deer, himself, who had a confidential arrangement with the GMC prosecutors not to name him as complainant against Wakefield and colleagues enabling him to continue reporting on the story as an independent journalist (HERE ).

As extensively reported in Age of Autism and Child Health Safety (HERE ) the allegations against Wakefield of fraud were without foundation: the 12 co-authors of the Lancet paper have never dissociated themselves from data in the paper, which was not drawn from the GP notes raked over by Deer (HERE ). Nor have any of Deer’s interpretations of data from the GMC transcripts proved to be well-founded (HERE and HERE ).

 

Comments

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Thank you Mr. Stone for sharing this valuable information.
I have always suspected that there is a regulatory failure
exist beide all the drug pushing (and fear mongering)by big pharma;and our level of health is sinking lower and lower.I will review this article very carefully.Mr. Gates needs to get out of the vaccine business.He is greatly mistaken about this "magic".There is no magic in toxic ingredients.
He can not create health with mercury,aluminum adjuvants
and heavy metals.He is no hero.

Mark

Thanks so much for your contribution. I note also from a 2005 UK Parliamentary report into the pharmaceutical inndstry:

‘The use of PR to counter negative publicity’

‘221. ………. Considerable resources are invested into building long-term, sustainable relationships with stakeholders and ‘key opinion leaders‘ and journalists. These relationships are used to promote the use of certain brands and counter concerns relating to safety. Efforts to undermine critical voices in particular were identified, under terms of “issues management”. In later evidence, in response to the ISM’s memorandum, Pfizer stated that PR is entirely legitimate and can “help to educate and inform”. According to the PMCPA, PR activities may include “placing articles in the lay press, TV documentaries, soap operas etc“.’ p60 'The Influence of the Pharmaceutical industry' 2005.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmhealth/42/42.pdf

And another response to the BMJ was rudely rejected by the deputy editorship,

------------------------------------------------------------
"A view from the twin pillars"
------------------------------------------------------------

Adam Rutherford, presenter of 'Science Betrayed', famously described the BMJ and Lancet as the 'twin pillars of the medical establishment'. However, the story behind these two episodes began in February 1998. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of one of those twin pillars, was taken by surprise at a press conference,

"At that time we had no idea that Andrew Wakefield would say what he'd said at the press conference. Our view was that this was a paper describing a new syndrome: we had a great comment that put it into context … that explained the safety and value of this particular vaccine. We hadn't issued a press release and then he came out and said 'split the vaccine' ... and as soon as he said that at the press conference ... that was the trigger for the difficulties that followed." [1]

There was not a word about the performance of professional misconduct or how and why fraudulent science had been scandalously conducted, or even a word of regret about publishing 'the paper' that had caused such difficulty.

Of course, there is an uneasy consistency here: in 2003, the editor of the Lancet that published 'that paper' in February 1998 and then retracted it twelve years later wrote,

"But I do not regret publishing the original Wakefield paper. Progress in medicine depends on the free expression of new ideas. In science, it was only this commitment to free expression that shook free the tight grip of religion on the way human beings understood their world. Sometimes the ideas proposed will be unpalatable ... Debate since publication of the Wakefield paper has established that his work opened up an important new field of science - the relation between the brain and the intestine in the etiology of autism." [2]

And Richard Horton went on,

"I worked at the Royal Free from 1988 to 1990 and met him on many occasions. He is a committed, engaging, and charismatic clinician and scientist. He asks big questions about diseases - what are their ultimate causes? - and his ambition often brings quick and impressive results. But his findings sometimes have limited staying power, and are overturned or substantially modified by less iconoclastic colleagues. His reputation unfairly in tatters, Wakefield resigned from the Royal Free Hospital, realizing that he had no future there and that he would be virtually unemployable in the work that he wanted to do anywhere else in the UK. There were rumours, not denied, that he was put under pressure by university authorities to leave. His colleagues, once so eager to pursue their careers on his coattails, mostly abandoned him..."

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00znb98

[2] Richard Horton glorifies Wakefield, with "no regrets" over discredited MMR paper. In a book, five years after he published a now discredited paper by Andrew Wakefield, Lancet editor Richard Horton, explains why he was glad he did it. In this extract, he asks: "Creating the conditions for a resurgence of measles is bad medicine. Or is it?" Extract from 'Second Opinion' by Richard Horton, Second Opinion, Granta Books, 2003.
http://briandeer.com/mmr/horton-wakefield.htm

Competing interests: None declared

The united BMJ editorship posted three responses of mine to the review of ‘Science Betrayed’ by London GP, Dr Michael Fitzpatrick,

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d2006.full/reply#bmj_el_255592

These postings were a surprise and a personal triumph over the dark forces of censorship at the BMJ. So I tried some more … but Dr Tony Delamothe, deputy to the boss, Dr Fiona Godlee, had had enough. The comment below was e-jected into the fetid nether regions of the e-ther.

-----------------------------------------------------------
"The cost of "performing professional misconduct", allegedly ..."
-----------------------------------------------------------

"They said ... we may have to seek them out and destroy them where they live". [1] Andrew Wakefield, in the second episode of 'Science Betrayed' continued,

"This is what happens is to scientists who cross the Rubicon, scientists who question policy and profit. "It's irrelevant" ... splutters Adam Rutherford desperately...

"You've been shown, in the largest, most in depth and expensive investigation in the General Medical Council's history ... came to the conclusion that you had performed professional misconduct."

The costs of destroying a committed, cogent, credible, charismatic medical scientist like Andrew Wakefield are obviously immense, as journalist Brian Deer so convincingly outlined at the conclusion of these two BBC radio programmes.

.... "The legal bills alone to get to the bottom of what Wakefield did would have cost ... oh, I don't know ... probably about 8 million pounds ... then there were the costs of my investigation and all kinds of other things which have gone on over these years ... the idea that those kind of resources could be brought to bear on other suspected cases of scientific fraud is just unrealistic ... so if it took all that money to crack what was a five page, four thousand word paper, reporting on twelve children seen at one London hospital, what on earth would it cost to use those kind of procedures to get to the bottom of other cases of misconduct". [2]

[1] The danger of drugs ... and data. Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 9 May 2009.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/09/bad-science-medical-journals-companies

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00znb98

Competing interests: None declared

It is becoming increasingly clear that the BBC supports Big Pharma, and is not prepared to look at the outcomes of conventional medical treatment. It is not fair or impartial in its dealings with health issues. It broadcasts uncritically any Big Pharma claim for new 'wonder' drugs; and it fails to report adverse reactions, drugs being banned, Big Pharma corruption; and the way it dominates Health Journals, Health Regulators, Governments, and the mainstream media generally.

Just to add that Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline sits on several government committees - there really isn't very much difference between GSK at this stage and the government.

oneVoice

It is an interesting question about the politicians. In 2004-5 the UK House of Commons Select Committee on Health produced a remarkably hard hitting report 'The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry'. It is very well put together and a fascinating read:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmhealth/42/42.pdf

The committee was an all-party committee of non-executive elected Members of Parliament, and the results were not at all naieve. Those members of parliament who were not daily locked into the business of government - or winning pharmaceutical patronage - could see all the deception and corruption. The issue here is the weakness of our institutions before the networks of pharmaceutical interests, and profound political negligence. Of course, when you see David Cameron and Bill Gates together they have obviously entered fairyland - a place of wide-eyed silliness where millions of young people are going to get hurt if greater care isn't taken. In the words of Gates "Vaccines are magic".

Politicians are influenced by drug-makers and lobbyists.They
do not know about all the ingredients,fake studies,adverse
effects,they may not have the pharmacology and research
background to truly understand what happens in the market place and how it effects our health.Eg.spending hundreds millions of dollars on gardasil vaccine (with aluminum,
polysorbates,boric acid)when safe pap tests are available.
Adverse effects are now over 20,000 reported,not to mention
the precious lives that were taken by this vaccine.
That is why we have to open our eyes and do the research ourselves.

Australia

Jenny Allan,

It is happening here too, when I wrote to the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Catherine King, I too received the "public relations/perception" person response.

I will quote 2 paragraphs:

"Immunisation has been demonstrated repeatedly to be one of the most effective medical interventions we have to prevent disease. The safety and effectiveness of vaccines has been extensively researched and considered by drug regulatory authorities all over the world. The overwhelming body of medical and scientific evidence supports the promotion of immunisation with vaccines for the prevention of potentially crippling debilitating and deadly diseases in the Australian population."

"A decrease in the number of children immunised would increase the number of children and susceptible adults who may contract a vaccine preventable disease which may result in epidemics and a rise in the morbidity and mortality rates."

Politicians never cease to astound me.

Elizabeth-AussieMum

John-I was particularly angry about this statement in my DOH response:-

"You may wish to note that MMR vaccine can safely be given to children who have already received individual measles, mumps or rubella vaccines. MMR is a live vaccine. As such, if a child already has immunity through the single vaccines their immune system will simply respond to the vaccine and protect them from the live component."

My letter to the S&T Committee did not mention the recent measles outbreaks in Europe or the DOH's official advice to parents to make sure that their children receive a 'top up' MMR vaccination to protect them from measles if travelling abroad, but I HAVE been making comments on the internet about the ridiculous situation of having to receive 3 live viruses in order to obtain protection from just ONE of them. There is NO WAY that this is 'safer' than a single virus vaccination. Viruses can interact in ways that are still poorly understood and researched.

I am fairly sure that the NHS 'Customer Service Centre' employee, who replied to my letter, was NOT a doctor or scientist, but was a person trained in 'public relations' and perceptions!! Come to think of it, isn't THAT why the BMJ employed Fiona Godlee in the first place? It was also the reasoning behind the GlaxoSmithKline appointment of James Murdoch, son of 'News International' Rupert, shortly before the 2004 Brian Deer Wakefield/MMR articles first appeared in Murdoch’s Sunday Times.

Jenny

"There remains no evidence that MMR vaccine causes brain damage."

But they have already admitted that it causes ADEM (Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis)

http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/mpsmisledovermmr/

which as Paul Offit seems to have admitted can result in "autistic symptoms".

Of course, if you systematically don't monitor MMR you can greatly reduce the cases of ADEM detected.

John

Wow John Stone!! You deserve a medal for ferreting out all these corruption webs in our UK Government Department of Health. The expression 'snouts in the trough' comes to mind, and it is the overtaxed oppressed UK people who are paying for these excesses, not only in monetary terms but at the expense of their's and their children's health as well.

I sent Andrew Lansley, UK Health Minister, a copy of a letter I sent to the Science and Technology Committee re BMJ peer group appraisal. My letter mentioned Fiona Godlee's and Brian Deer's damning comments on the BBC Radio 4 'Science Betrayed' programme.

Unfortunately, Mr Lansley is rather busy at the moment in England, trying to get his NHS reforms through Parliament, so my reply was delegated to someone from the 'spin doctor department' otherwise called the DOH 'Customer Service Centre'. Once again, I will quote:-

"There is no evidence that the MMR vaccine causes non-febrile seizures(seizures without a fever). There remains no evidence that the MMR vaccine causes brain damage.The safety of the MMR vaccine has been endorsed through numerous studies in many countries. It has been used extensively and safely around the world for over 30 years. The World Health Organisation recognises MMR as being a highly effective vaccine which has such an outstanding safety record.

You may wish to note that MMR vaccine can safely be given to children who have already received individual measles, mumps or rubella vaccines. MMR is a live vaccine. As such, if a child already has immunity through the single vaccines their immune system will simply respond to the vaccine and protect them from the live component."

It is very obvious from the tone of this letter that the 'evidence' of thousands of living, breathing vaccine damaged children is not a priority for the UK Department of Health and that Thorsen's flawed 'epidemiological studies' are still being officially quoted. The letter goes on to state that in the UK, vaccinations are voluntary. It also makes the point that the BMJ and the GMC are both autonomous bodies and are not under the conrol of the Department of Health.

I sent a copy of my letter to Andrew Lansley for information purposes only. I was not expecting a reply.

Vaccination rates and confidence of the public is very low.They
are always looking for scape-goats to blame (Dr. Wakefield & the anti-vaxers;see Mr.Gates w/Dr.Gupta).They do not like when anti-vaxers complain about adverse effects or damage because it is not helping the sale of the vaccines.Chronic illnesses are starting to rise in third world countries and
it is just a question of time when autism rates will explode in these countries.These people are all connected (by their
pocket books)and they are not being transparent and truthful.I
hope and pray that the public is able to see clearly that
they ready to destroy anyone who dares to criticise their
multi billion dollar vaccine empire.Thank you very much
Mr.Stone for highlighting this issue and doing your research.Truth will always stand.

John Stone;
They are living the good life ain't they.
And as they live it, they make up riduculus phrases like public - private (opposite words) for us really low totem pole people because we could not possibly understand such opposite concepts???? And they are right, I don't!

I had to scramble to understand the concept of public private health, and it just sounds like more government giving public money to private people so they can - what did you say scuba dive in the clear blue waters of some tropical sea.

Wow John, Sekhri is the stepmother of Alexandra Feachem!

I hope they all fry. Science people should be embarrassed by this but they will twist it and say, but of course Feacham is connected to the issue- it makes sense. They have made a mockery of conflict of interest issues. It makes them look worse, though.

Interesting, story from the Mail on Sunday last month mentioning Sir Richard but in particular his second wife, Neelam Sekhri "NHS troubleshooter 'given free Porsche and exotic holiday' is sued for £250,000" by Martin Delgado. Ms Sekhri was co-author with Sir Richard in the 2009 BMJ letters arguing for public private partnerships in global health:-

A former high-ranking civil servant who was given a free Porsche and a luxury Caribbean holiday is being sued for alleged corruption by the Department of Health.

A High Court writ issued in the name of Health Secretary Andrew Lansley claims up to £250,000 in damages and compensation from Ken Anderson – the controversial Texan businessman drafted into Whitehall by Tony Blair to encourage more private-sector involvement in the NHS."

The writ claims he was given a Porsche Carrera 911 by a former colleague whose consultancy firm was being paid £1,300 a day by the Department of Health, and a week-long holiday with his three sons in the Turks and Caicos Islands, gifts to which he was not entitled.

The 180mph sports car was allegedly given to him by Tyrone Robinson, whose consultancy firm, Broadsword, was hired by Whitehall officials in 2003 to advise them on NHS reforms.


Mr Anderson, who lives in an £800,000 farmhouse near Wantage, Oxfordshire, was head of the Department of Health’s commercial directorate for four years until 2007. At one stage he was seen as a possible contender for the top job of NHS Chief Executive.

He left the health service to become a banker and is now being sued by Mr Lansley ‘in respect of benefits received corruptly and in breach of duty’, according to the writ. Mr Anderson strongly denies the allegations against him.

The writ says the two men had first met several years earlier when they worked together at infrastructure company Amey, where Mr Anderson was involved in bidding for Government-backed private finance contracts.


The gift of the £70,000 car was intended to ensure that Broadsword retained its Department of Health contract and that Mr Robinson was paid above the market rate for his services, according to the 20-page legal document.

It says Mr Robinson was given a 100 per cent pay rise within a year of starting work with the NHS, boosting his daily earnings from £650 to £1,300 in a deal overseen by Mr Anderson. He was also promoted several times, becoming the direct-orate’s Chief Operating Officer.

Broadsword’s contract with the Department of Health ended in 2005 after it had received £226,000 in fees. The consultancy was struck off the Companies Register and dissolved in 2007.

The Caribbean holiday referred to in the writ was allegedly arranged by law firm Eversheds, which gives advice to the Department of Health and other Government bodies.

Mr Anderson’s family stayed at the luxurious Osprey Beach Hotel which has a private beach from where guests can scuba dive on the world’s third-largest coral reef. Although Mr Anderson had only two brief meetings with local officials, at which healthcare policies were discussed, the entire trip, including flights and hotels, was paid for by the Turks and Caicos government.

Mr Lansley’s writ includes the text of emails between Mr Anderson and Eversheds partner Alun Cole.

Mr Cole wrote on August 15, 2005: ‘Hope you all had a good weekend! This time next week hopefully we’ll be enjoying a beer on the beach! I have gone out of my way to stress to TCIG [Turks and Caicos Islands government] that this is your holiday week with the boys. I believe that you will have only two formal appointments. There may be informal invitations . . . but you are and must feel at liberty to turn any or all of them down.’


Three days later Mr Cole sent another message: ‘The government of the Islands has paid for you and I to go Business Class. I’m afraid the boys will have to slum it in Economy!'

Mr Anderson replied: ‘Alun, that sounds great! Am starting to feel a little like a free loader! Have checked into diving. Not a busy time of year so we will leave it until we arrive and do a little resort-based stuff I would imagine. Thanks for setting this up . . . the boys and I are very excited indeed.’

On his return, Mr Anderson discussed his trip with Neelam Sekhri, a San Francisco-based healthcare consultant who was then a member of the Department of Health’s Commercial Advisory Board.

Ms Sekhri, who is married to an eminent British professor, Sir Richard Feachem, was subsequently hired by the Turks and Caicos government to help implement its health service reforms.

The £24,000 bill for her services, however, was paid by the Department of Health – on Mr Anderson’s instructions, it is claimed. According to the writ, this was improper use of public money and Ms Sekhri’s fee, as well as the cost of the holiday, should be returned to the taxpayer.

Mr Anderson worked for private healthcare firms in the US and Germany for more than a decade before moving to Britain. At the NHS, he oversaw the introduction of treatment centres run by independent operators, a policy opposed by health campaigners and unions. He is now based in London as a managing director of Swiss-owned financial services giant UBS.

His solicitor, Sue Thackeray, of Finers Stephens Innocent, said: ‘Mr Anderson vigorously defends the allegations. He will serve his full defence within the next week that will put his position clearly forward.’

Mr Robinson failed to respond to calls from The Mail on Sunday.

Mr Cole’s solicitor, Phil Sherrell, said his client had done nothing wrong. He was invited separately from Mr Anderson to the islands to advise on a health project. He had no know¬ledge of any arrangements that may have been made for Ms Sekhri to provide consultancy services to the Turks and Caicos government.

Ms Sekhri was unavailable for comment. The Department of Health said: ‘We do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1389609/NHS-troubleshooter-given-free-Porsche-exotic-holiday-sued-250-000.html

It seems everyday brings forth a new example of someone who "betrayed science" by failing to disclose their conflict of interests. Consider the latest ...

"Last year, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported that billionaire David Koch, whose company Georgia Pacfic (a subsidiary of Koch Industries) is one of the country’s top producers of formaldehyde, was appointed to the NIH cancer board at a time when the NIH delayed action on the chemical. The news was met with protests from environmental groups. Faced with mounting pressure from Greenpeace and the scientific community, Koch offered an early resignation from the board in October.

Yesterday, the NIH finally handed down a report officially classifying formaldehyde as a carcinogen"

Knowing the NIH has officially classified formaldehyde as a carcinogen .. will the Supreme Court still deny parents their right to sue in State or Federal Courts should vaccine manufacturers refuse to remove formaldehyde from their product?

Thanks, John, as always, for a great piece.

Short answer: Yes!

Nobody is really unconnected to these people anymore, are they? *sighs* So depressing! Did not need this after seeing the footage of Joplin. Which is still in dire need. Some of the folks we serve were lost, and as Dayna Busch told you, the Ozarks Center for Autism was destroyed. Currently they are housed temporarily in the Joplin Regional Office under the Division of DD building. The needs of these kids, it just breaks my heart.

And then we have to deal with callous arrogant people like Brian Deer? People like him are the reason that I sometimes rethink my decision to not remaind anti-social.

"Strike off" "Excomminicated" words in human history that the Devil can hold up to God, againest man kind showing that we are not worthy as a species.

It is Copernicus and the Diet of Worms all over again.

Australia

John, today we have been inundated with Bill Gates' face pledging his $Billions towards the vaccine programme and our Health Minister has pledged $200 Million.

Need I say anymore!!

Jenny Allan, good response! I continue to defend Dr Wakefield against the ill-informed.

Can you excuse my ignorance for a minute- what new documents have come to light which suggests Dr Wakefield's innocence?

Elizabeth-AussieMum

My response from the BBC complaints department, 15-04-11:-

"Thanks for contacting us regarding 'Science Betrayed' broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 24 March. I understand that you feel this programme was inaccurate in that new documents have come to light which suggest that Dr Wakefield was innocent.

While I appreciate your concerns all our programmes are carefully considered in advance to ensure their content is suitable for broadcast, accurate and informative. At the time of broadcast the allegations against Dr Wakefield which led to him being struck off by the General Medical Council were still, technically, correct. We were simply covering the story from this perspective but I’m sorry you found this inappropriate."

I then wrote to the BBC Trust, making the point that my complaint was NOT about 'new documents coming to light' but rather about complete misrepresentation of documents which had been around for years!! I also objected to the BMJ's representing, what amounted to unfounded allegations, as FACTS and presenter Adam Rutherford's complete failure to properly research this programme.

The response from the BBC Trust, 9-05-11, would do credit to Kafka!! I will quote some of it:-

"I should explain that the role of the BBC Trust is distinct from that of the BBC's management and it has no role in day to day editorial matters." ???!!!

"The Trust's role is to consider appeals from complainants who are dissatisfied with the response they have received from the BBC's management, who must be given the opportunity to provide a two stage response to any complaint. However, the Trust does not adjudicate on every appeal that is brought to it, but only those that qualify for consideration."???!!

"Following this route means we can deal with complaints in a logical progression from BBC management to the TRUST and those most closely involved with the complaint have an opportunity to respond first."

"The Trust is not in a position to involve itself in your complaint at this stage."

I am still trying to 'get my head round' this load of convoluted semantics; logical it isn't!! But the BBC is funded by licence payers in the UK and is SUPPOSED to be completely independent of both political and commercial interests.

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