Parents and advocacy groups call inquiry against Dr. Andrew Wakefield a "witch hunt"

National Autism Association Tells England's GMC to Instead Ask: Why Are So
Many Kids Sick?

Washington, DC - Parents and advocacy groups around the globe are asking
England's General Medical Council (GMC) to cancel the "fitness to practice"
inquiry that begins today against Dr. Andy Wakefield, and Professors
Walker-Smith and Murch. Advocates say the GMC should instead be asking why
so many kids are sick, especially in light of an apparently suppressed
analysis showing that autism rates in England are as high as 1 in 58. The
medical establishment is being criticized for doing little to find the
cause, treat the kids, or prevent new cases.

"The list of charges reveal the utter lack of any case against Dr. Wakefield
and his colleagues, who are at risk of losing their licenses," according to
National Autism Association (NAA) board member and parent Scott Bono. The
charges, only made known last week, relate primarily to a peer-reviewed case
report published in 1998 in the "Early Reports" section of The Lancet, one
of England's leading medical journals: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular-hyperplasia,
non-specific colitis, and pervasive disability disorder in children. This
first report of a new syndrome, never refuted or retracted, has since been
repeatedly reported and studied by other researchers. Vaccine-strain measles
virus has been found and sequenced from gut biopsies and cerebral spinal
fluid in autistic children.

The charges originated from internet blogger Brian Deer, who many parents
have suggested may be linked to the pharmaceutical industry. "This is
nothing more than a witch hunt brought against scientists willing to
undertake ground-breaking research challenging the assumption that autism is
an inherited untreatable psychiatric disorder that cannot be prevented.
Implicating the safety of vaccines such as MMR isn't acceptable to drug
companies or government officials who want to protect the vaccine program
itself at the cost of the health of children," said Mr. Bono.

The evidence will demonstrate that questioned diagnostic studies used by Dr.
Wakefield, such as colonoscopies and lumbar punctures, were not only
approved by ethics review but were clinically indicated. These have now been
accepted as the standard of care by a group of leading pediatric
gastroenterologists in the United States.

Other charges concern incomplete disclosures of what the advocacy groups
consider irrelevant material that could appear to be a conflict of interest
only to vaccine makers and government agencies shielding vaccines from
legitimate and appropriate criticism. Dr. Wakefield had consulted with
lawyers and families receiving government funding from the Legal Aid Board
on an entirely separate study to determine whether measles virus could be
identified in the diseased gut tissue, providing vital evidence for a
possible class action. The legal aid board subsequently determined that this
explanation for autism was more probable than not, but under government
pressure dropped funding for the suit.

In the first of 5000 cases to be heard in a special vaccine court in the US
last month, evidence presented demonstrated that 12-year old Michelle
Cedillo began regressing into autism just a week after her MMR vaccination
at 15 months. The plausible cause was a persistent measles infection which
took hold through an immune system weakened by mercury in vaccines
administered prior to the MMR.

Many have cited the major theme of the Government's defense in vaccine court
was that those who have the temerity to question vaccine safety must be
censored and their research stopped rather than risk impairing public
confidence in vaccines. According to a growing number of parents, the actual
threats involved are:

companies making vaccines without appropriate safety considerations because
they no longer need fear accountability through litigation
government denials of the autism epidemic that allow an avoidance of funding
research into cause and treatment
a sclerotic medical establishment with its head in the sand as a tsunami of
sick children rages overhead.
"The search for truth in autism must be guided by sound science and not be
led astray by fear, censorship, and the greed of the pharma-government
complex," commented NAA president Wendy Fournier. "Perhaps the greatest
damage done by this GMC hearing, other than a complete waste of time and
resources, is the chill wind blown over parents and scientists who dare to
ask the hard questions against this and any other medical orthodoxy: why are
so many of our kids sick and what can, indeed what must, we do to help

No parents will testify against Wakefield and his colleagues at the GMC
hearing. Instead, they have organized a protest coinciding with the start of
the hearing. "NAA stands shoulder to shoulder with our British friends in
their search for truth, justice, and treatments for their kids," said Ms.
Fournier. "We urge the GMC to stop this persecution and take urgent action
in view of a true national health emergency to care for the children
afflicted with autism."

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