Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Observations GMC Wakefield Verdict

Why did the Lancet take so long?

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c644 (Published 02 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c644

Rapid Response:

Dr Yazbak's claims

I am very concerned by the e-letter from Dr Edward Yazbak, a retired
paediatrician of Falmouth, Massachusetts, claiming to be a grandparent of
a child enrolled in the Wakefield Lancet study of February 1998. With
this apparent credential, he lauded praise upon Wakefield, as he has done
at public meetings which they have addressed together.

I know the names and family backgrounds of all 12 of the children
enrolled in the study, including the child enrolled from the United
States. I don't believe that Dr Yazbak has a family relationship with any
of them.

If what Dr Yazbak ought to have said was that a grandchild of his
receieved clinical care at the Royal Free at some time subsequent to
February 1997, then it's an additional concern that he should indicate, as
he did, a belief that the boy was taking part in a study. He might
clarify the position, and also indicate what service the north London
hospital offered to his grandson that was not available in New England.
The Royal Free had no department or reputation for evaluating
developmental disorders, and ileocolonoscopy, if indicated, would have
been available on his doorstep. As the GMC has made clear, Dr Wakefield
had a non-clinical research contract, and so it's not clear what service
he could have offered any child.

Dr Yazbak's claims have been widely disseminated on anti-vaccine
websites, as something accorded the additional credibility of being
apparently published at a BMJ site.

Competing interests:
My investigation of Wakefield led to the GMC hearing and the Lancet's retraction

Competing interests: No competing interests

08 March 2010
Brian Deer
Journalist
London E1 9XW