CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Scientific Fraud as Criminal Harm?

The question is suggested by this CNN report:

(CNN) -- A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines is an "elaborate fraud," according to a medical journal -- a charge the physician behind the study vigorously denies.

The British medical journal BMJ, which published the results of its investigation, concluded Dr. Andrew Wakefield misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study -- and that there was "no doubt" Wakefield was responsible. The journalist who wrote the BMJ articles said Thursday he believes Wakefield should face criminal charges.

However, Wakefield said his work has been "grossly distorted." Speaking on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," he said Wednesday he is the target of "a ruthless, pragmatic attempt to crush any attempt to investigate valid vaccine safety concerns."

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I don't know who to believe. The only sensible thing to do is to ask who has the most to lose/gain... Dr. Wakefiels or the Pharacutical companies? And perhaps, who has the better track record?

Derek Bagatto is a contributing writer for
(Criminal Attorney Savannah Georgia) an informational resource

Posted by: Derek | Jan 6, 2011 3:01:20 PM

Considering conflicts of interest when evaluating whether or not scientific fraud has taken place as a means of motive is sensible. However, I don't think it is hard to see here that Wakefield was not conducting SCIENTIFIC experiments. I'm not a scientist, I'm a future lawyer. But as a layman, even I can see that Wakefield's actions were fraudulent.

First of all, his study consisted of 12 children. 12. Anyone who's ever even walked past a tenth-grade biology class knows that you can't get real results with such a small sample. That didn't matter to Wakefield (or apparently the BMJ because they published the ridiculous study) because he was falsifying the results that didn't turn up "favorable" anyway.

Additionally, when Wakefield first began his studies, he was studying Crohn's Disease and whether or not the Measles were found in Crohn's. He was funded by "Pharma." Also, let's not forget just how big a role EGO plays in Academia. Wanting to be right can be enough for a lot of people, especially in the scientific community when pretty much all you have is your reputation. I don't think you can just say "who has the most to lose/gain?" It's not that simple.

Finally, because of Wakefield's ego, people DIED. Dead. Children are dead. To this day, and presumably for many years to come, people will not vaccinate for fear of Autism. They will spread disease to the most vulnerable and those people will die. Wakefield and any other person who falsifies research results to prove themselves right should be held criminally liable when people die, become ill, or spend tons of money to fix what should never have been broken in the first place.

Let's call for real responsible science.

Posted by: Kimberly | Feb 21, 2011 12:15:31 PM

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