Merck-BMJ Double-speak Continues
IOM To Release Adverse Events of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality 8/25

British Medical Journal Forced to Publish Letter about Merck Conflict after Age of Autism Campaign

Godlee By John Stone

After a succession of posts on Age of Autism (Age of Autism Holier Than Thou , Age of Autism Emporer Has No ClothesAge of Autism Double-Speak ) BMJ have been forced in a humiliating climb-down to publish a letter in its on-line columns pointing to BMJ Groups relationship with MMR manufacturer Merck in the context of its attack on Andrew Wakefield earlier this year (HERE ). The articles by Brian Deer re-cycled allegations first published in the Sunday Times in 2009 shortly after proprietor James Murdoch was appointed to the board of another MMR manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. BMJ finally published a letter referring to the Murdoch dimension by Dr Mark Struthers yesterday: plainly they were not prepared to publish letters of this kind until substantial pressure had been brought to bear. It remains to be seen whether they are yet prepared to make proper disclosures about these matters in the appropriate places in the journal both in hard copy and on-line, including Mr Deer’s articles and associate editorial material.

Re: Time to curtail the excesses of vested interest

John Stone UK Editor, Age of Autism

 I refer to a BMJ Group press release published on the Wall Street Journal website last week 'BMJ Group Chooses SDL to Support Medical Translations for Univadis Online Platform'[1]. Anyone reading either the title or indeed the entire text of the release might suppose that 'Univadis' was a BMJ product rather than the information arm of pharmaceutical manufacturer MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme).

When Dr Godlee was challenged about this in March she explained that this and other BMJ conflicts had not been disclosed in it and Mr Brian Deer's allegations against Andrew Wakefield over MMR because "it did not occur to us to do so" [3]. Well, surely it must have done now.

[1] 'BMJ Group Chooses SDL to Support Medical Translations for Univadis Online Platform'

[2] Univadis

 [3] Fiona Godlee 'In response to John Stone'



John Stone


"The sliminess of the opposition" doesn't prove anything (at least not scientifically) but actually the case that vaccines can cause autism, and more often encephalopathies has been conceded many times.

This certainly doesn't mean you are on the wrong track with dental amalgam either, but many parents have seen the before and after effects of vaccines and it is wrong to disregard this as evidence either. We have public institutions geared to denying vaccine damage and that is real enough.



Robin P Clarke

In 2003/4 the BMJ was forced by huge complaints to retract a grossly deceitful outrageously nasty definitely libellous "obituary" of the husband of the just then widow of Prof David Horrobin. They've since modified their online responses system to figleaf the embarrassment a bit.
So the BMJ has form for publishing lies.
But none of this sliminess of the opposition proves that any vax causes autism.

John Buettner

They only admitted to this because they were caught with their pants down. This causes me to wonder, what other unethical activities are hiding in the background? Are also in bed with insurance companies?

Angus Files

Well done John and thanks to AOA for having the UK and myself on this site ...if it wasn`t for AOA no voice in the UK ..





The hard work has paid off! Well done mate!


Jake Crosby

Congrats John!


The fact that Dr. Barrow is variously referred to as "Andrea" and "Anthea" in the footnotes of Deer's article indicates to me that nobody at the BMJ bothered to read it.

It also shows how much effort Deer put into writing and editing it.


By Jove John, well done! What a worthy protagonist you are. Your persistence and knowledge have brought a RESULT!


'As recently as the 1970s, America’s universities were heavily influenced, if not completely driven, by faculty ideas and concerns. Today, institutions of higher education are mainly controlled by administrators and staffers who make the rules and increasingly set the priorities of academic life....

'With regard to research, academics tend to take the view that ideas and discoveries should be broadly disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and presentations at professional meetings. Some professors, to be sure, are interested in the possibility of profiting from their discoveries. But most professors are more concerned with the process of discovery and the professional recognition that comes from developing new ideas in the laboratory, and they see any pecuniary gain to themselves as incidental to their main goals.

'University administrators, on the other hand, view faculty research mainly as a source of revenue for the institution. They are not particularly entranced by its intellectual merits, except when commissioning puff pieces for the alumni magazine. In recent years, through the introduction of technology transfer offices, administrators have taken charge of knowledge dissemination. To administrators, scientific discoveries are primarily sources of hundreds of millions of dollars in potential overhead fees and licensing fees.

'What is the ultimate purpose of these administrative efforts? Administrators say their goal is to financially strengthen their institutions so they may better pursue their teaching and research missions. If, however, we focus on what administrators do, rather than what they say, a different picture emerges. What administrators do with a good many tuition and research dollars is reward themselves and expand their own ranks. At most schools, even mid-level administrators are now paid more than all but the most senior professors in the professional schools, and considerably more than professors in the arts and sciences. And new deans are cropping up everywhere.'


"Media Analysis" @ August 24, 2011 04:05 AM

"That the author had apparently no formal science or medical training epitomises a very laissez faire attitude when it comes to this issue , controversial or not."

Exactly. If the BMJ were a scientific journal it would have applied the scientific method but instead employs a hack whose expertise is in manipulating the facts and telling the untruth.

The BMJ's problem is that there are no scientific papers disproving the 1998 Lancet paper's key finding - that these children have a novel form of bowel disease.

That is because it is now well established that large numbers of autistic children have these particular kinds of bowel problems and continue to be diagnosed with them.

The BMJ and BMA have an agenda. Cozy up to the drug industry to get rich and then defend the profits of your drug industry commercial partners at all costs - including the lives and health of British children.

The British public are odd. They will go to the ends of the earth to prevent cruelty to dogs, cats and even goldfish [yep there was a Court case about a magic show!!] but when it comes to children and this kind of thing - they keep their mouths shut and do nothing.

Mark Struthers

I imagine that Dr Godlee is swimming in deep waters ... and struggling to keep afloat. Good one, John: it's good that you keep the pressure on the BMJ ... and its fiercely hypocritical editor.

Jenny Allan

Well done John Stone and Mark Struthers. Persistence pays!!

Media Analysis

Now they need to explain clearly and in detail why they over rode their own and COPE guidelines in commissioning and publishing a story that at it's focus was the private and confidential medical records of children/ patients with a disability.

That the author had apparently no formal science or medical training epitomises a very laissez faire attitude when it comes to this issue , controversial or not.

It also begs the question of what ethical boundaries the GMC is operating under and questions need to be asked as to why they allowed further public access to these records through the publication of the GMC transcripts.

What other information was obtained and published without the necessary and thorough independent checks and balances ?

Some sample questions

Did the BMJ Ethics panel meet and what discussions were held into the release of any relevant material inclusive of medical records and other material ?

What was the composition of this panel ?

What efforts were made to contact parents, guardians or patients ?

Did the BMJ seek independent outside ethics advise in regards to this matter and what was that advise ?

How did the BMJ "clear" the author a freelance journalist to act on it's behalf via 'commission'. Taking into clear account the journalist apparently has no medical or research academic credentials.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)