Field of Science

The Lancet finally retracts erroneous study linking MMR vaccine to autism

(A follow-up post to my post from 28 January)

Finally, 12 years after the British medical journal The Lancet published an article by Andrew Wakefield claiming a link between MMR vaccines and autism, six years after serious problems, including fraud, were uncovered, and six years after 10 of the original 13 authors retracted their findings: finally the editors at The Lancet have discovered some backbone, and have formally retracted Wakefield's article.

I should add that it is very unusual for a journal to retract an article over the objections of the original author, as they have done in this case. The editors were responding to the report of the UK General Medical Council, which I wrote about in my previous post, calling Andrew Wakefield's claims "dishonest and irresponsible."
The Lancet should have done this years ago, but it's still good news that they have finally retracted it. Their retraction appears here, and at the bottom of this post.

Unfortunately, The Lancet didn't finish the job. If you go to the original page containing the article, there is no indication that it has been retracted. Even worse, the official retraction links to the original article, but they didn't bother to add a link back to the retraction. There should a large, banner headline on the 1998 article stating that it has been retracted and that the conclusions are erroneous.

Here is the full text of yesterday's retraction, by The Lancet's editors:
"Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al1 are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation.2 In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were "consecutively referred" and that investigations were "approved" by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record."

1 comment:

  1. I Steven,

    I just went to the Lancet website an it looks as if the original article now has a big "RETRACTED" in front of the original paper title. Also if you open the pdf it has a big red "retracted" layed over each page.

    It was about time!!! Thanks for all your efforts -I have sent links to your talk that's posted on youtube around to many people who needed to hear the truth.


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