January 28, 2010 / 6:46 PM / 10 years ago

MMR row doctor blasted as "irresponsible" by GMC

LONDON (Reuters) - The doctor who caused a national controversy by linking children’s triple MMR vaccine to autism acted unethically and dishonestly and had failed in his duties as a responsible consultant, a disciplinary panel ruled on Thursday.

Doctor Andrew Wakefield speaks to the media after a hearing at the General Medical Council (GMC) in London January 28, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The General Medical Council (GMC) also said that Andrew Wakefield had shown a “callous disregard” for the suffering of children and had brought the medical profession “into disrepute.”

The charges against him ran to over 90 pages and included accusations that he carried out invasive tests on children that were against their best clinical interests.

Dr Wakefield’s study in the medical journal “The Lancet” in 1998 suggested a link between the combined measles, mumps and rubella jab with autism and bowel disease. The GMC panel charged that the way the research was presented was “irresponsible and dishonest.”

His assertion caused one of the biggest medical rows in a generation. It led to a big fall in the number of vaccinations, and a corresponding rise in cases of measles.

Vaccination rates are now recovering and his research has been discredited worldwide.

Wakefield remained defiant. “I am extremely disappointed by the outcome of today’s proceedings,” he told reporters outside the GMC’s headquarters in London.

“The allegations against me and against my colleagues are both unfounded and unjust, I repeat unfounded and unjust, and I invite anyone to examine the contents of these proceedings and come to their own conclusion.”

He thanked the parents who had supported him, many of whom reacted angrily to the panel’s ruling.

“I want to reassure them that science will continue in earnest.”

The GMC will now consider whether Wakefield’s behaviour amounts to serious professional misconduct, which could lead to him being struck off the medical register.

Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi

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