Ongoing Investigations by Dr. David Lewis Refute Fraud Findings in Dr. Andrew Wakefield Case Well-known Whistleblower Calls for Withdrawal of British Medical Journal Article Alleging Fraud
AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Strategic Autism Initiative (SAI), an autism research foundation, reported today that an ongoing investigation into the allegations of fraud against Dr. Andrew Wakefield concerning a paper published in The Lancet in February, 1998 is being conducted by an internationally respected scientist, Dr. David Lewis. Early results of his investigation, which were published on November 9, in The British Medical Journal (BMJ) and The Journal Nature, reveal that The Lancet paper in question accurately reported the results provided to Dr. Wakefield by the collaborating specialists at the Royal Free Hospital in London, contrary to the findings of a series of articles published by the BMJ in January 2011.
According to Dr. Lewis, "There was no fraud committed by Dr. Wakefield. The crux of the matter in Wakefield's case, so far as research fraud is concerned, is whether Wakefield fabricated the diagnosis of non-specific colitis for 11 of the 12 Lancet children as claimed in Table 1. Drs. Paul Dhillon's and Andrew Anthony's grading sheets clearly show that Wakefield did not fabricate the diagnoses of non-specific colitis reported in the Lancet article." In addition to his work as a scientist, Dr. Lewis directs the Research Misconduct Project of the National Whistleblower Center in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Wakefield, executive director of SAI, upon learning of these early results, said, "In a bid to justify their position, the BMJ claim now to have commissioned, and plan to publish, expert analyses rebutting these findings. But they miss the point. BMJ cannot accuse a professional of fraud and then claim that, 'he just reported the findings he was given, but our new experts 13 years later say those findings were wrong.' Whether the findings were wrong or not - a dispute between experts - it confirms there was no justification for their original allegations of fraud."
"The grading sheets and other evidence in Wakefield's files clearly show that it is unreasonable to conclude, based on a comparison of the histological records, that Andrew Wakefield 'faked' a link between the MMR vaccine and autism," Dr. Lewis added. "Now that these records have seen the light of day, it is time for others to stop using them for this purpose as well. False allegations of research misconduct can destroy the careers of even the most accomplished and reputable scientists overnight. It may take years for them to prove their innocence; and even then the damages are often irreparable. In cases where mistakes are made, every effort should be taken to fully restore the reputations and careers of scientists who are falsely accused of research misconduct."
Dr. Lewis recommended that "(BMJ author) Brian Deer should either withdraw his paper MMR: Faking The Link 'Wakefield's 'Autistic Enterocolitis' Under The Microscope;' or at least retract any statements implying that Wakefield's summary of Dhillon's blinded analysis suggests that he faked the diagnoses of non-specific colitis."
He plans to continue his investigations, including a detailed expert analysis of the BMJ's allegations provided to him today suggesting that the BMJ may have altered key findings of the 1998 Lancet paper and the presentations of the children's symptoms to support their fraud allegations against Wakefield.
The Strategic Autism Initiative (SAI) is a medical research organization focused on identifying the environmental causes of the worldwide autism pandemic.
About Dr. David Lewis
Dr. Lewis, a member of the NWC Board of Directors and Director of its Research Misconduct Project, is a former senior-level research microbiologist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He was the only EPA scientist to ever publish first-authored research articles in Lancet and Nature. His research published in Lancet and Nature Medicine on the inadequacy of CDC guidelines to prevent transmission of HIV in dentistry prompted the current heat-sterilization standard for dentistry in the mid-1990s. His environmental research published in Nature received the Science Achievement Award by the EPA Administrator in 2000. Editors at Annals of Internal Medicine rated him in the top 10% of reviewers in 2010. His accomplishments in medical and environmental research have been widely covered professional, scientific and popular publications and broadcasts including Nature, Science, Lancet, JAMA, National Geographic, Reader's Digest, Voice of America, Paul Harvey News, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, NY Times, Washington Post, London Times, NPR's All Things Considered, PBS Healthweek, PBS Technopolitics, CBS Evening News, ABC's Primetime Live, and BBC Panorama.
SOURCE Strategic Autism Initiative