This week journalist Brian Deer has been enjoying celebrity status at the luxury villa of Les Pensières of the Fondation Mérieux on the banks of Lake Annecy in the French alps: The Merieux foundation advertises its financial links to all three MMR manufacturers that were defendants in the UK litigation (GSK, Merck and Sanofi), as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
So far Deer has disclosed no pharmaceutical sponsorship or hospitality in his series of British Medical Journal articles attacking Andrew Wakefield and now Wakefield’s colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital, the last published just twelve days before conference began. Nor does he mention this latest engagement in a letter yesterday to the journal (presumably a dispatch from the conference itself). Meanwhile BMJ have failed to publish a letter pointing out the discrepancy and have once again given the lie to editor Fiona Godlee’s official ‘holier than thou’ stance on Conflict of Interest.
At a conference entitled ‘See Re-invigorating Immunisation Policy Implementation and Success: From Parent to Partner and from Broadcast to Engagement' Deer was keynote speaker at the introductory evening on Monday with an address ‘Money, media and retrospection. What drove the MMR crisis, and what lessons should we learn for the future?’ but also was listed to chair two sessions on Tuesday afternoon and evening.
This puts in ironic perspective the scathing remarks that Deer made about Dr David Lewis attending a vaccine safety conference in Jamaica in January in both in BMJ and in Nature News , but is also perhaps a gratifying apotheosis for everyone who has watched his remarkable career.
John Stone is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.