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« From The Editor: Trick | Main | Sam Wessels: The Presidential Campaign Crusader (with Autism and Tim Pawlenty) »

The Full Monty: a Review of Brian Deer and British Medical Journal’s Competing Interests in the Wakefield Affair

Deer Pit Bull A GamondesArtwork by Adriana Gamondes

By John Stone

The following observations are in response to Media Scholar’s query about Brian Deer’s competing interests (
 Age of Autism Comment by Media Scholar).

Deer does not disclose the support he received from MedicoLegal Investigations (an outfit allied to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry which specialises in getting doctors before the GMC) in 2003-4 (MedicoLegal Investigations ).

It also looks as if BMJ (with its annual pharmaceutical award ceremony) has begun to take a relaxed view on hospitality. I suspect this goes back to policy decisions made in 2008 when a senior BMJ editor Tony Delamothe wrote to me:

"I can see why you think the sponsorship of his award is relevant, but it's hardly Goldacre's fault that an outfit that has made the award has pharma sponsorship. The BMJ Group is about to start an awards programme of its own and some of the awards will be sponsored by pharma companies. If we were to give you the Medical Communicator of the Year Award (let's say, for the point of argument, sponsored by Novartis) it wouldn't bring everything you've said into question."

But only a year before they had published an attack by Goldacre on such patronage and allowed comment (BMJ Goldacre comment). The first 2009 BMJ awards took place without pharma patronage, but it is clear from Delamothe’s email that the they were already in August 2008 making plans for the 2010 awards which included sponsorship from Merck and GlaxoSmithKline. It is against this background that they refused to post correspondence from me earlier this year pointing out that Deer was a guest at a pharma/GSK sponsored conference in Baltimore last November: no doubt he was a key-note speaker (GSK Conference Features Brian Deer and actox.org Brian Deer).

After much argument and a certain amount of circumlocution Deer does disclose his dealings with the GMC in 2004-6. BMJ editor-in-chief, Fiona Godlee, to her discredit refused to take action on this non-disclosure last year but seems to have bitten on the bullet in January, but of course the problem remains that he did not disclose the conflict to Sunday Times readers and Channel 4 viewers at the time  – obviously a case of  “what the journalist didn’t tell you” (Age of Autism Godlee Must Go ).

Deer’s funding from BMJ is disclosed, but not as a competing interest. Furthermore, while BMJ quietly acknowledged its competing interests regarding their award ceremony (BMJ competing interestsBMJ Wakefield Article with correction and BMJ correction to Godlee) their disclosure still doesn't acknowledge BMJ's business partnership with Merck via BMJ Learning and Univadis. And quite outrageously none of this information is available to anyone visiting Deer's articles on-line, although it is plainly relevant information.

Then, of course, there is the issue of Harvey Marcovitch as BMJ editor signing the journal's allegations of fraud against Wakefield, on the basis that he was not doing it in his capacity as head of GMC panels and also not mentioning his association the United Kingdom Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) (Age of Autism Harvey Marcovitch ).

Lastly, mention should be made of  editor Fiona Godlee's long term commitment to suppressing debate on vaccine safety about which she declared her colours just prior to being appointed to her  editorship of BMJ in an address to British National Formulary (Age of Autism Fiona Godlee Has an Agenda )

It seems to me that BMJ not only fail in the detail they completely fail in the spirit of disclosure.

This is the text of Deer’s disclosure from January (BMJ Deer disclosure):

'Funding: Brian Deer’s investigation was funded by the Sunday Times of London and the Channel 4 television network. Reports by Deer in the BMJ were commissioned and paid for by the journal. No other funding was received, apart from legal costs paid to Deer by the Medical Protection Society on behalf of Andrew Wakefield.'

'Competing interests: The author has completed the unified competing interest form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf (available on request from him) and declares no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisation that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; BD’s investigation led to the GMC proceedings referred to in this report, including the charges. He made many submissions of information but was not a party or witness in the case, nor involved in its conduct.'

'Provenance and peer review: Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.'

John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.

 

Comments

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I wonder what we can deduce from the judgement that serial publication of Brian Deer's articles, full of familiar allegations for which many challenges exist [2], were of "high global importance" [1]? As it is, to my certain knowledge, several substantive letters questioning Deer's interpretations and findings have been blocked, and outside the traditions of academic and scientific publications the defence of them has been legalistic, technical and incomplete [3,4,5]. Most noticeably, Deer has never been required to return to BMJ's columns to meet any of the criticisms.

If anybody has posted their best estimate sorry I've missed it.

Appearance fees, speeches, lectures, trans-Atlantic air fare, drinks, admission fees, quid cable news @ whatever the rate per 30? It all adds up. Every toothpick this guy has taken. Every beverage. Every milligram of pancake powder.

Is ₤2,000,000.00 near reliable? ₤10,000,000.00 all things considered?

The bounty on Andrew Wakefield's head should offend all. The sense of urgency to call the issue closed in the media relates to that.


In 2000, Deer's web site was registered at an Atlanta, Georgia residential address less than five miles away from US Centers For Disease Control headquarters and the Emory University campus where accused CDC fraudster Poul Thorsen M.D., indicted by Danish authorities for money-laundering CDC tax dollars, used to hang out.

While the domain and other pieces of evidence linking Deer to Atlanta may be a matter for US intelligence officials, the sudden disclosures that UK media are highly trained in spy tactics indicate the elaborate cover up for Brian Deer forming in the UK media

Last sold for $460,000 on 6/21/2004
Last assessed at $156,800 on 2009

Previous assessments • $156,800 on 2009
• $156,800 on 2008
• $156,800 on 2007
Source: Public Records


http://www.whale.to/vaccine/brian_deer_blunders.html

More Fiona Godlee, Editor of the BMJ, pious pearls of wisdom!!
“It has been said that journals are the marketing arm of the pharma industry and that is not untrue; to a large extent that is true,” Godlee told the Science and Technology Select Committee.

Godlee called for more efforts towards transparency in medical publishing, especially around centralised systems for declaring conflicts of interest and making explicitly clear when industry funding has been involved.”
http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/05/medical_journals_are_the_marke_1.html


Did Godlee apply the same standard when looking at Mr Deer`s work?Of course Brian Deer wrote it all himself for zero payment(Murdoch paid everyone else you were screwed Brian). Brian being the type of guy he is him having a heady diploma in Psychology 5 minutes work..

"Fiona Godlee, editor of the British Medical Journal, said the practice continues to be a problem in the medical literature.

"Guest authorship and ghostwriting is absolutely unacceptable and we have been saying this for a long time. It is misleading, a form of fraud, and it would be good to see much stiffer penalites and legal liabilities for people who involve themselves in this," she said.

"The benefits of being a guest author are still substantial. You get a piece of work under your name that you didn't have to bother writing, the company involved will push to get it published in a high-profile journal, and visibility, promotion and all sorts of things come your way, not to mention international travel and speaking at conferences."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/aug/02/scientists-ghostwritten-articles-fraud?CMP=twt_fd

Carol

In Smith's last days as editor BMJ Rapid Responses was certainly a more open forum than it is now but it also permitted virulent ad hominem attacks on parents by pseudonymous trolls - clearly there has to have been a policy decision to let this kind of thing go on. For instance, I was occasionally advised by the letters editor to change something slighty (usually allowing the substance to remain) but other rules were operating for the other side.

I think there was an element of low politics while pretending to be all things to all men. I don't know whether this offfers any direct explanation, but it certainly is odd that Healy should make this statement about BMJ and 1991 when it is the very year that Smith took over.

This has an odor. If nothing else it is very sad. It is possibly an attempt at trivializing the autism issue and Newscorp's link if, as suspected, they have skeletons to hide. It may also have a vein of projection in it as it involves autism and secrets shouted out at work.

From "The Sun" tabloid.

"Autism makes me shout out my sex secrets at work"

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/3731853/Autism-makes-me-shout-out-my-sex-secrets-at-work.html


"News Group Newspapers Ltd

News Group Newspapers Ltd publishes the tabloid newspaper The Sun. The News of the World was another tabloid newspaper owned by the company; however its closure was announced on 7 July 2011, following new evidence about a phone hacking scandal at the newspaper. The final issue was released on 10 July 2011.

"The News of the World was purchased by Murdoch in January 1969. The Sun was acquired in October 1969 from International Publishing Corporation.

Murdoch states that he acts as a "traditional proprietor"; exercising editorial control on major issues such as which political party to back in a general election or policy on Europe."

Wiki

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_International

John,

It seems to me there must have been a sentence that followed "The BMJ in 1991 faced a dilemma" explaining what the dilemma was. Where that sentence went or why, I have no idea.

From Healy's website, http://www.healyprozac.com , I gather that Healy believes Richard Smith to be one of the good guys. My impression from _Let Them Eat Prozac_ was that Smith gave Healy the royal runaround.

With all due respect to bulldogs and their owners... I didn't think they could get any uglier.

I guess I stand corrected.

I wonder when is the Home Secretary going to refer this Murdoch,investigation to the Serious Organised Crime Agency,

http://www.soca.gov.uk/

and assist the Met's Sue Ackers in pursuing honest investigation without pressure from high profile players?

SOCA have the power to size all assets ,financial etc..

Terrific work, John and Adriana! The amount of lies and illegal-immoral escapades that these folks are capable of----and Mr. Deer never looked so perfectly appropriate. Guard dogs can be SO stupid as they have no sense of loyalty.

"The first 2009 BMJ awards took place without pharma patronage..."

That's actually not true.

Former Sunday Times health editor Nigel Hawkes, wrote about the 2009 awards sponsors:

"The full list of the award sponsors is the Health Foundation, BMA News, BMJ Evidence Centre, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Solvay Healthcare, Univadis, McKinsey & Company, and MediSave."

Also:

"The next award went to a website that communicates about the risks of miscommunication: the NHS Choices website, for its “Behind the Headlines” section...Paul Nuki, editor of NHS Choices, accepted the award on behalf of a team that has helped hundreds of GPs and thousands of ordinary users to get the facts straight and has stopped misreported science stories spreading in the media and becoming harmful urban myths."
http://www.bmj.com/content/338/bmj.b1428.full

Getting closer...

http://order-order.com/2011/07/29/mirror-group-paid-blagger-442878-for-illegally-obtained-info65-invoices-paid-by-piers-morgans-daily-mirror/

Mirror Group Paid Blagger £442,878 for Illegally Obtained Info
65 Invoices Paid by Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror

"The “blagging” invoices are for phone records, vehicle registration records, ex-directory numbers, to monitor mobile calls, obtain phone bills and get numbers called as well as paying off bent police officers to provide information. IT COULD BE MEDICAL RECORDS, criminal records or tax records. Blagging is a criminal offence punishable with up to two years jail time."

I have also read about antidepressants like Prozac and other SSRI's that cause violent behavior in young males. Many of the mass murders that have shocked society have been committed by young men and teenage boys who were taking these meds. The media, of course, has covered it up. You will always hear about their mental and emotional problems, but never the meds they were on. This was the case at Columbine with Dylan and Harris, also at VA Tech and the slaying of the Amish girls at Silvermines, PA. It was also the case with the young man in Germany a few years ago. There are more, but I forget the specific cases. Look it up. I assure you, you will be shocked that this has never reached the attention of the public. It's one more grievous sin committed by the media in collusion with Big Pharma. They are destroying our children from birth into young adulthood. There are no words to describe the depth of this EVIL.

Gatogorra

Yes, in this case the launch of Deer's fraud allegations in Sunday Times and Times of London, just following the appointment of James Murdoch to the board of GSK in February 2009 did not make a huge impact:

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/07/james-murdoch-is-still-supported-by-glaxosmithkline.html

Hence, no doubt, the re-launch as a peer review publication in BMJ earlier this year which only then caught like wildfire in the US.

Carol

Of course, 1991 was the year Richard Smith became editor. When Deer published his first article on Wakefield in 2004 Smith was already on hand jumping to conclusions and making prejudicial comments:

'Dr Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal, said, however: "That MMR paper is the best example there has ever been of a very, very dodgy paper that has created a lot of discomfort and misery."'

Thank you, John.

I just read "Pravda"-- the 1985 play about the rise of Murdoch by David Hare-- which BBC editor Paul Mason mentioned in an article on the current Murdoch scandal. Wish I could have seen the original production with Anthony Hopkins as Murdoch. It's all there-- everything happening in news, science, government, etc. The very last line of the play is "Welcome to the foundry of lies". But back then there was no social media.

It's interesting how psych drug defense and peer review fraud set the stage for the current vaccine defense. Now one market feeds the other.

When did BMJ hit the skids? 1991? _Let Them Eat Prozac_ by David Healy suggests this might have been the watershed year.

"When the question of suicide [related to Prozac] first hit the media, spokespersons for Lilly stated that they had analyzed clinical trial samples of several thousand patients for evidence of anything like this--and found none. The data behind this claim finally surfaced in the _British Medical Journal_ on September 25, 1991, in an article by Charles Beasley and colleagues from Lilly that purported to be a meta-analysis of Lilly's clinical trials, examining evidence from 3,065 patients....The BMJ in 1991 faced a dilemma. As far as I can make out, the Beasley paper was the first major article to appear in a major journal with a company-only authorship line. Its acceptance by the BMJ probably facilitated the appearance of a great number of other articles with predominantly company authorship lines in major journals....At a 1998 meeting on new antipsychotic drugs at the American College of Neuropsychopathology conference, delegates bewailed the fact that published clinical trials now invariably supported the sponsor's compound. They complained that some of these company-only authored articles on new drugs contained data that didn't add up; efforts to reanalyze the data independently indicated the data had been massaged beyond acceptable limits"

Inscription on the collar of a Royal dog:-

'I am his Highness's dog at Kew:
Pray tell me Sir, who's dog are you?'

The picture should say no insult meant to bulldog`s poor dog having that face imposed on it..

I read yesterday that out of the initial 4000 suspected names hacked(thousands more now) the Police were only at name 153... someone let Brian know that his friends the Murdoch`s paid everyone else and he is the only one not paid Brian your being screwed ...


"The company then trawled through other documents, including its cash authorization records, and found 130,000 pounds’ worth of payments to a group of officers over several years, according to officials with knowledge of the inquiry. Included within those records was documentation of a thousand-pound cash withdrawal around the date of Mr. Goodman’s e-mail concerning his purchase of the Green Book from a police officer, according to one person with knowledge of the investigation."


New York Times

"Mr. Goodman said that he did not want to go into detail about cash payments because everyone involved could “go to prison for this,” "

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/world/europe/30letter.html?_r=4&hp

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