or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Baby Health › Vaccinations › Vaccinations Debate › Former Chief Scientific Officer, DoH, concerned about MMR
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Former Chief Scientific Officer, DoH, concerned about MMR

post #1 of 70
Thread Starter 

This is from 2006. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-376203/Former-science-chief-MMR-fears-coming-true.html

 

 

"In the late Seventies, Dr Fletcher served as Chief Scientific Officer at the DoH and Medical Assessor to the Committee on Safety of Medicines, meaning he was responsible for deciding if new vaccines were safe.He first expressed concerns about MMR in 2001, saying safety trials before the vaccine's introduction in Britain were inadequate.

 

 

Now he says the theoretical fears he raised appear to be becoming reality.

 

He said the rising tide of autism cases and growing scientific understanding of autism-related bowel disease have convinced him the MMR vaccine may be to blame.

 

"Clinical and scientific data is steadily accumulating that the live measles virus in MMR can cause brain, gut and immune system damage in a subset of vulnerable children," he said. "There's no one conclusive piece of scientific evidence, no 'smoking gun', because there very rarely is when adverse drug reactions are first suspected. When vaccine damage in very young children is involved, it is harder to prove the links."

 



This was 6 years ago, before the latest TWO reported drastic increases in the autism rate.

 

post #2 of 70
Thread Starter 
Wildkingdom, you seem to be unaware that one of the authors of that paper, Dr. John Walker-Smith, was not only exonerated in appeal, but that the original ruling against him had been based on a number of wrong conclusions, according to the high court judge.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/children_shealth/9128147/MMR-doctor-wins-battle-against-being-struck-off.html

http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/03/professor-john-walker-smith-exonerated-in-autism-mmr-case.html

More importantly, you seem to think that Dr. Fletcher, the former Chief Scientific Officer of the Department of Health, was basing his conclusion on Wakefield's 1998 paper. Why would you think that? He mentions "steadily accumulating data"-- in 2006. He doesn't mention Wakwfield's 1998 paper from 8 years before.

It's awfully easy to fall into the trap of blaming Wakefield's 1998 paper as the one and only cause of fear of vaccines, when there are so many studies indicating harm from vaccines, and so many reports of such harm. And it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that only the MMR needs to be studied, or that autism is the only serious problem associated with vaccines.

Too many medical professionals are thinking, "Look! So many children have safely had MMR with no apparent or immediate reaction, it must be safe! ALL vaccines are therefore SAFE!" without realizing tht the studies purporting to show such safety were seriously flawed, and that evidence to the contrary has been steadily ignored and/or buried.
Edited by Taximom5 - 6/18/12 at 11:01am
post #3 of 70
Quote:
 Wildkingdom, you seem to be unaware that one of the authors of that paper, Dr. John Walker-Smith, was not only exonerated in appeal, but that the original ruling against him had been based on a number of wrong conclusions, according to the high court judge.


 

 

Actually, I'm perfectly aware of that fact.  Just because that author was exonerated in no way changes that fact that the Wakefield paper was bogus and was retracted by the Lancet.

 

 

Quote:

 It's awfully easy to fall into the trap of blaming Wakefield's 1988 paper as the one and only cause of fear of vaccines, when there are so many studies indicating harm from vaccines, and so many reports of such harm. And it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that only the MMR needs to be studied, or that autism is the only serious problem associated with vaccines.

 

 

 And yet the article from the Daily Mail that you link to ONLY mention's Wakefield's paper.  It alludes to lots of other research, but no references are given.

 

From the Daily mail article:

 

 

Quote:

 

He added that after agreeing to be an expert witness on drug-safety trials for parents' lawyers, he had received and studied thousands of documents relating to the case which he believed the public had a right to see. 

 

So, per the bolded, he is a paid expert witness for plaintiff's lawyers.  Clearly an unbiased source.

post #4 of 70
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildKingdom View Post

 

Actually, I'm perfectly aware of that fact.  Just because that author was exonerated in no way changes that fact that the Wakefield paper was bogus and was retracted by the Lancet.

 

 

 And yet the article from the Daily Mail that you link to ONLY mention's Wakefield's paper.  It alludes to lots of other research, but no references are given.

 

From the Daily mail article:

 

 

 

So, per the bolded, he is a paid expert witness for plaintiff's lawyers.  Clearly an unbiased source.

The article only mentions Wakefield's paper, but Dr. Fletcher says that "he has seen a 'steady accumulation of evidence' from scientists worldwide that the measles, mumps and rubella jab is causing brain damage in certain children."

 

No references were given in that article --which to me says that the journalist did a shoddy job, not that Dr. Fletcher was wrong, because evidence of MMR-induced brain damage has been clearly documented in cases world-wide, including the 2000-odd cases compensated here in the US. It's also been announced very recently in both Italy and France that those governments have conceded MMR-induced autism cases.

 

Asfor your bolded reference that he was a paid witness for the plaintiff's lawyers, does that make him more biased than those whoa re paid to claim vaccine safety?

 

Per your quote ("He added that after agreeing to be an expert witness on drug-safety trials for parents' lawyers, he had received and studied thousands of documents relating to the case which he believed the public had a right to see."), it seems to me very important that he mentions "thousands of documents relating to the case which he believed the public had a right to see."

 

This, coming from the Chief Scientific Officer of the Department of Health, and Medical Assessor to the Committee on Safety of Medicines?  The man who was responsible for deciding if new vaccines were safe?? 

 

That a man in his position could come to the following conclusion is monumentally important:

"There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves."

 

Funny, we've seen similar criticism of the drug industry from Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Helen Ratajczak, former senior scientist of Bohringer-Ingelheim pharmaceuticals.

 

Yet some people still insist on focusing on Andrew Wakefield.  I guess they think if they fuss enough about Wakefield, nobody will pay attention to the mounting evidence that vaccines can and do cause far more damage than is currently admitted by the pharmaceutical industry. 

 

 

post #5 of 70

I'm focusing on Andrew Wakefield because the article focuses on him. 

 

Dr. Fletcher claims he's reviewed thousands of documents.  Where are they?  I've tried to find outcomes of court cases in Britain regarding this issue in which Dr. Fletcher testified- I can't find anything.  In fact, other than his 2006 statement, he seems to be out of the news up until 2011, when he wrote the introduction to Andrew Wakefield's autobiography.

 

I'm not really sure what your point is in bringing this article here.  It's seven years old.  It's from the Daily Mail, for God's sake, which is the UK equivalent of the NY Post.  It has next to no information at all.  If this is supposed to help someone in "Researching the Vaccine Decision," I don't think it's particularly helpful.

post #6 of 70
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildKingdom View Post

I'm focusing on Andrew Wakefield because the article focuses on him. 

 

 

 

Really?  The article FOCUSES on Andrew Wakefield?

 

I don't think so.

 

The article is about Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Scientific Officer of the Department of Health, and Medical Assessor to the Committee on Safety of Medicines.  Wakefield is mentioned IN PASSING in 2 sentences in the entire article:

"an explosive worldwide increase in regressive autism and inflammatory bowel disease in children, which was first linked to the live measles virus in the MMR jab by clinical researcher Dr Andrew Wakefield in 1998."

and

"His (Dr. Fletcher's) outspokenness will infuriate health authorities, who have spent millions of pounds shoring up confidence in MMR since Dr Wakefield's 1998 statement."

 

The article itself is about Dr. Peter Fletcher's concerns over the safety of the MMR jab and the decision of the government to pour millions into advertising and PR campaigns to increase MMR uptake rather than researching its safety.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WildKingdom View Post

 

 

Dr. Fletcher claims he's reviewed thousands of documents.  Where are they?  I've tried to find outcomes of court cases in Britain regarding this issue in which Dr. Fletcher testified- I can't find anything.  In fact, other than his 2006 statement, he seems to be out of the news up until 2011, when he wrote the introduction to Andrew Wakefield's autobiography.

 

 

Dr. Fletcher was given thousands of documents to review as the expert witness; he is quoted as saying he thought the public should have access to them. So, apparently, as expert witness, he was given access to documents you and I do not have access to. That doesn't seem to be too difficult to figure out.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by WildKingdom View Post

 

 

I'm not really sure what your point is in bringing this article here.  It's seven years old.  It's from the Daily Mail, for God's sake, which is the UK equivalent of the NY Post.  It has next to no information at all.  If this is supposed to help someone in "Researching the Vaccine Decision," I don't think it's particularly helpful.

 

I posted this because I think it is helpful for someone researching the vaccine decision to know that the former Chief Scientific Officer of the Department of Health, and Medical Assessor to the Committee on Safety of Medicines has grave concerns about both the safety of the MMR jab and the ethical conduct of the government in dealing with those concerns.

 

Thank you so much for pointing out that he also wrote the forward to Wakefield's autobiography.

post #7 of 70
Quote:
 I posted this because I think it is helpful for someone researching the vaccine decision to know that the former Chief Scientific Officer of the Department of Health, and Medical Assessor to the Committee on Safety of Medicines has grave concerns about both the safety of the MMR jab and the ethical conduct of the government in dealing with those concerns.

 

Fair enough.  I would just amend this to say the following:   The former Chief Scientific Officer of the Department of Health, and Medical Assessor to the Committee on Safety of Medicines had grave concerns about he safety of the MMR jab and the ethical conduct of the government in dealing with those concerns in 2006.  From the tabloid article about this, it appears that these concerns were based on a now-discredited publication in the Lancet by Andrew Wakefield.  Although "thousands of documents," are alluded to, these have never apparently been brought to light in the past 6 years. Dr. Fletcher expressed these concerns while he was being paid as an expert witness by lawyers bringing suit against the NHS and vaccine manufacturers.

post #8 of 70
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildKingdom View Post

 

Fair enough.  I would just amend this to say the following:   The former Chief Scientific Officer of the Department of Health, and Medical Assessor to the Committee on Safety of Medicines had grave concerns about he safety of the MMR jab and the ethical conduct of the government in dealing with those concerns in 2006.  From the tabloid article about this, it appears that these concerns were based on a now-discredited publication in the Lancet by Andrew Wakefield.  Although "thousands of documents," are alluded to, these have never apparently been brought to light in the past 6 years. Dr. Fletcher expressed these concerns while he was being paid as an expert witness by lawyers bringing suit against the NHS and vaccine manufacturers.

No, there is nothing in that article that indicates that Dr. Fletcher's concerns were based on Wakefield's publication.  Dr. Fletcher never mentioned Wakefield or his work, and made a point of saying that he's seen a steady accumulation of evidence world-wide. Although this accumulation of evidence was not mentioned in the article, there have been studies posted (often) on this forum that support his assertions.

 

In addition, both France and Italy have recently conceded that the MMR has caused autism in their countries.  

 

Dr. Fletcher is a highly-qualified scientist who, along with other highly qualified scientists, has criticized vaccine safety. If one criticizes his appearance as a paid expert witness in a lawsuit against a vaccine manufacturer, one must also criticize the financial conflicts of interest surrounding the AAP, Dr. Paul Offit, and every paid spokesperson of the vaccine industry.

post #9 of 70

It turns out that the trial for which Dr. Fletcher was to be a witness never took place. The case was thrown out before it got to court. His intention to testify in 2006 caused a few newspaper articles to be written about this doctor and his claims. He never wrote a paper, or even an article, describing his own views or the evidence he claims to have found supporting a link between MMR and autism. So it is really impossible to tell whether he was basing his views on Dr. Wakefield's discredited study or not. I imagine he likely was, since he still seems to be supporting Dr. Wakefield and his research today even after the retraction. But it is possible that he had found unrelated research and intended to cite it at a trial six years ago. If so, we do not know what it is and can't know.

 

Perhaps someone could contact him and ask!

 

Please note that the UK Department of Health (Dr. Fletcher's former employer) currently recommends the MMR vaccine to be administered to children to prevent measles, mumps, and rubella.

post #10 of 70
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleZB View Post

It turns out that the trial for which Dr. Fletcher was to be a witness never took place. The case was thrown out before it got to court. His intention to testify in 2006 caused a few newspaper articles to be written about this doctor and his claims. He never wrote a paper, or even an article, describing his own views or the evidence he claims to have found supporting a link between MMR and autism. So it is really impossible to tell whether he was basing his views on Dr. Wakefield's discredited study or not. I imagine he likely was, since he still seems to be supporting Dr. Wakefield and his research today even after the retraction. But it is possible that he had found unrelated research and intended to cite it at a trial six years ago. If so, we do not know what it is and can't know.

Perhaps someone could contact him and ask!

Please note that the UK Department of Health (Dr. Fletcher's former employer) currently recommends the MMR vaccine to be administered to children to prevent measles, mumps, and rubella.


How do you know he never wrote articles or papers describing his own views?
post #11 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taximom5 View Post

How do you know he never wrote articles or papers describing his own views?

Google scholar doesn't find any...
post #12 of 70

Thanks for the link, Taxi. 

post #13 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildKingdom View Post

I'm focusing on Andrew Wakefield because the article focuses on him. 

 

 

As taxi pointed out above, the article is hardly on him.

 

I think pro-vaxxers like to bring up Wakefield as he is a handy scapegoat.  It is a halo effect thing.  Ooooh, let's talk about  Wakefield, he is discredited and makes non-vaxxing look bad!  

 

The irony is -as a debate point - bringing up Wakefield does nothing.  Most non-vaxxers do not give an iota about Wakefield, and if they do, they feel a little bad for the man that he was turned into a scapegoat.  I cannot see those in research mode caring that Wakefield, who had a study years ago involving 12 people, was discredited.  Very few people choose to not vaccinate based on one small study - discredited or not.

post #14 of 70

So I got curious about Peter Fletcher and googled him (well "Peter Fletcher vaccines" otherwise a footballer, and a classical guitarist get in the way!). 

 

Top hit - Daily Mail article from 2006 which Taximom started this thread with. Hits 2-4 are all whale.to, so I'm not even going to read them. 

 

Then a Wikipedia page on Peter Fletcher, which is interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Midgley/Peter_Fletcher

 

although doesn't seem to be part of the main wikipedia site - I'm not sure why...

 

Most of the rest of the links are from sites with an anti-vaccination message. 

 

I found a mention of him on the blog "Science Based Medicine" in a review of Wakefield's book. They say: 

 

 

 

Quote:
The preface is by Dr. Peter Fletcher of the UK’s Committee on Safety of Medicines. Some of what he says is demonstrably wrong. He alleges that vaccines have only been “minimally investigated,” that concerns about anaphylaxis have been neglected (Wakefield also stresses the danger of anaphylaxis), and that the mortality rate from MMR vaccines approaches the pre-vaccination mortality rates for measles. These allegations are ridiculous and easy to disprove with a couple of minutes’ Googling. (In an Australian study of 1.7 million school children vaccinated with MMR, there was only one anaphylactic reaction and no deaths. Before the introduction of vaccines, measles used to kill 100 people in the UK every year and MMR vaccine has never been known to kill anyone.) Fletcher also offers his unsupported opinion that the subjects in Wakefield’s study had “a complex new syndrome” whose root cause is “almost certainly vaccines.”

 

 

The UK's Medical and Health Regulation Agency (http://www.mhra.gov.uk/) - the body to which the Committee on Safety of Medicines reports to says: 

 

 

Quote (http://www.mhra.gov.uk/home/groups/pl-p/documents/websiteresources/con2025206.pdf):
The MCA rejects any suggestion by Dr Andrew Wakefield and Dr Peter Fletcher that
combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines were licensed prematurely.
The MCA is confident that the licensing process was properly conducted on the basis
of the safety, quality and efficacy of the vaccines in adequate numbers of children.

 

(MCA = Medicines Control Agency). 

 

They have more general advice on MMR here: http://www.mhra.gov.uk/Safetyinformation/Generalsafetyinformationandadvice/Product-specificinformationandadvice/Product-specificinformationandadvice%E2%80%93M%E2%80%93T/Measles,%20mumps%20and%20rubella%20(MMR)%20vaccine/index.htm (which includes responses to other studies). 

 

These are the only two locations on their site that a search on "Peter Fletcher" turns up anything. 

 

 

 In late 2005 things were restructured at MHRA and the Committee on the Safety of Medicines, along with the "Medicines Commission" turn into the "Commission on Human Medicines".

 

 I'm struggling to find any current links about what Dr. Fletcher is up to now. Anyone know. All the quotes atributed to him in newspapers (in 2006) call him a "former advisor", or "former scientific civil servant" with no reference to his current position.

 

A BBC article from 2001 says: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1126551.stm

 

 

Quote:

Dr Peter Fletcher, who used to assess the safety of medicines for the Department of Health, told BBC News Online that Dr Wakefield's research paper did not contain any extra evidence to alarm parents, but that this would be the inevitable effect.

 

He said: "Parents should definitely continue to have their children immunised against these illnesses.

"But this study certainly won't diminish their concern about this vaccine."

 

He said that the brevity of the initial studies had been a "missed opportunity", and that extending them over a longer period could have provided far more data on the safety of the vaccine.

 

OK I'm done. Need to get to work!

post #15 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

The irony is -as a debate point - bringing up Wakefield does nothing.  Most non-vaxxers do not give an iota about Wakefield, and if they do, they feel a little bad for the man that he was turned into a scapegoat.  I cannot see those in research mode caring that Wakefield, who had a study years ago involving 12 people, was discredited.  Very few people choose to not vaccinate based on one small study - discredited or not.


Interesting...thanks for sharing.  IMO, Wakefield is a brave man; I'm five chapters into his book, googling players and events as I go along.  It is fascinating.  Have you read it, Kathy?  Right about Pluserix/Triverix and SmithKlineBeecham and their actions to avoid licensure in the UK.  Pretty interesting.

post #16 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by seaheroine View Post


Interesting...thanks for sharing.  IMO, Wakefield is a brave man; I'm five chapters into his book, googling players and events as I go along.  It is fascinating.  Have you read it, Kathy?  Right about Pluserix/Triverix and SmithKlineBeecham and their actions to avoid licensure in the UK.  Pretty interesting.

No, I haven't.  I will see if the library has it.  

post #17 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

 

As taxi pointed out above, the article is hardly on him.

 

I think pro-vaxxers like to bring up Wakefield as he is a handy scapegoat.  It is a halo effect thing.  Ooooh, let's talk about  Wakefield, he is discredited and makes non-vaxxing look bad!  

 

The irony is -as a debate point - bringing up Wakefield does nothing.  Most non-vaxxers do not give an iota about Wakefield, and if they do, they feel a little bad for the man that he was turned into a scapegoat.  I cannot see those in research mode caring that Wakefield, who had a study years ago involving 12 people, was discredited.  Very few people choose to not vaccinate based on one small study - discredited or not.

Uh, I didn't bring him up and say ooooh, let's talk about him.  The article Taxi posted brings him up.

post #18 of 70
I know this is going way back, but what is Paul off its financial conflict of interest?
post #19 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rrrrrachel View Post

I know this is going way back, but what is Paul off its financial conflict of interest?

 

He invented the RotaTeq vaccine and collects royalties from it.

post #20 of 70
Nope. He doesn't. He sold his interest in rotateq and no longer makes any money off of it.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Vaccinations Debate
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Baby Health › Vaccinations › Vaccinations Debate › Former Chief Scientific Officer, DoH, concerned about MMR