MMR, Wakefield and The Lancet: what can we learn?

Julie Leask, Robert Booy and Peter B McIntyre
Med J Aust 2010; 193 (1): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb03730.x
Published online: 5 July 2010

Vaccine scares are inevitable and we need to plan accordingly

Twelve years after The Lancet published the study by Wakefield and colleagues1 that suggested a link between measles–mumps–rubella (MMR) vaccination, inflammatory bowel disease and autism, the journal has fully retracted the article. The retraction followed the findings of the Fitness to Practise Panel of the UK General Medical Council, released 28 January 2010, that certain statements in the article were false — namely, that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee.2

  • National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

Julie Leask is involved in an influenza vaccination study which receives support from Sanofi Pasteur. Peter McIntyre receives support from GlaxoSmithKline and Wyeth for National Health and Medical Research Council clinical trials. Robert Booy occasionally receives funding from CSL, Roche, sanofi-aventis, GlaxoSmithKline and Wyeth for clinical trials, and to attend and present at scientific meetings. Any funding he receives is directed to a research account at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and is not personally accepted by him.

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  • 2. Retraction — Ileal–lymphoid–nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet 2010; 375: 445.
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  • 14. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Immunise Australia Program: history of the program. (accessed Jun 2010).
  • 15. Immunise Australia. Temporary suspension of use of seasonal influenza vaccine for children under 5 years of age. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2010. (accessed May 2010).
  • 16. Colyer S. One-fifth of GPs holding back flu vax. Australian Doctor 2010; 14 May: 3.


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