The Human Costs of Junk Science and Litigation Hype

By January 11, 2011Briefly Legal

Below we post on the fraudulent study that linked childhood vaccines to autism. To be clear, the consequences were not just confusion, fear and the spread of bad science. Children’s health also suffered, and lives have been lost.

From Wall Street Journal, Paul Offit, the chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, an op-ed, “Junk Science Isn’t a Victimless Crime.”

Dr. Wakefield received tens of thousands of pounds from a personal-injury lawyer in the midst of suing pharmaceutical companies over MMR. (After Mr. Deer’s discovery, Dr. Wakefield admitted to receiving the money.) Last year, when the Lancet found out about the money, it retracted his paper. But it was far too late.

Dr. Wakefield’s paper created a firestorm. Thousands of parents in the United Kingdom and Ireland chose not to vaccinate their children. Hundreds of children were hospitalized and four killed by measles. In 2008, for the first time in 14 years, measles was declared endemic in England and Wales.

Dr. Wakefield’s claim sparked a general distrust of vaccines. In recent years—as more parents chose not to vaccinate their children—epidemics of measles, mumps, bacterial meningitis and whooping cough swept across the United States. The whooping cough epidemic currently raging in California is larger than any since 1955

Via, see also Respectful Insolence, CNN, AP, Jonathan Adler.

Leave a Reply