U.K. bans doctor who linked autism to vaccine

In an eight-page decision released on May 24, Britain’s General Medical Council revoked the license of a doctor whose now debunked work found a link between autism and vaccines.

The council found Andrew Wakefield guilty of “serious professional misconduct” and his name was removed from the U.K.’s medical register, the Wall Street Journal reports. The decision found Wakefield guilty of several cases of misconduct that he carried out during his research in the late 1990’s, including removing blood from children during a birthday party without ethics committee approval and then paying the children as a reward.

Wakefield also issued medical procedures, like a lumbar puncture, that weren’t clinically necessary and was guilty of failing to disclose conflicts of interest to The Lancet, the medical journal that originally published Wakefield’s study.

The decision brings to a close a case that has been ongoing for approximately three years. This past January, the General Medical Council ruled that Wakefield’s research was “flawed” and that his work was presented in an “irresponsible and dishonest” way, according to the Wall Street Journal report. Following that ruling, The Lancet retracted Wakefield’s study.

Wakefield’s 1998 study, which has now been mostly discredited, claimed a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism. As a result of the study, many parents chose not to vaccinate their children, which allegedly led to outbreaks of measles in some countries, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

However, in a BBC radio interview early on Monday, Wakefield said he intended to appeal the General Medical Council’s ruling.

“Efforts to discredit and silence me through the GMC process have provided a screen to shield the government from exposure on the MMR vaccine scandal,” Wakefield told the BBC.