MD Who Tied Vaccine to Autism Sues Journal for Defamation

Vaccine needle (Image credit: Dreamstime)

Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who first proposed a link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, is suing theBritish Medical Journal over a series of articles the journal published last year that accused Wakefield of fraud, according to news reports.

Wakefield's lawyers say the articles make "false and make defamatory allegations" about their client, according to the Guardian.

The defamation suit, filed in a Texas district court, names Fiona Godlee, editor and chief of BMJ, Brian Deer, a British journalist who has investigated Wakefield's work and wrote one of the articles, and the journal itself as defendants.

The original paper proposing a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism,  published in the journal The Lancet in 1998, has been widely discredited and was retracted in 2010. Wakefield, originally from Britain but who now practices in Texas, was stripped of his medical license in 2010 by the British Medical General Council.

The articles published in BMJ last year said Wakefield conducted deliberate fraud by falsifying information. The lawsuit calls these articles "unfair, incorrect, inaccurate, and unjust," according to ABC news.

BMJ, Godlee and Deer said in a statement that their lawyers would vigorously defend their claims, according to the Guardian.

The statement said: "It would appear from the claim filed at court that Mr. Wakefield still stands by the accuracy of the Lancet paper and his conclusion therein, thereby compounding his previously found misconduct."

The statement also says Wakefield has filed previous suits against Deer in Britain, but that "in each instance the case has been dropped by Mr. Wakefield," according to ABC news.

Parental fears of a link between autism and vaccines led to a decline in vaccination rates in children, resulting in outbreaks of measles.

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Live Science Staff
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