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Lancet retracts Wakefield paper

The Lancet has issued a full retraction of the Early Report title "Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children". This is the paper widely credited with raising concerns with the safety of the MMR vaccination.

The paper was partly retracted in 2004 when 10 of the 12 original authors wished to "make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient".

This full retraction has been made in light of the information considered by the General Medical Council (GMC) during a Fitness to Practice hearing that has identified that several of the claims made in the original article, in particular the method of referral to the clinic and ethical approval for the investigations, were false. It should be noted that the GMC investigation only reviewed how the research was conducted, not whether the findings were valid. It would seem that The Lancet now has sufficient concerns about the conduct of the study to retract it completely.

The retraction has also been reported around the world in the general media (BBC, NYTimes, LATimes and Sydney Morning Herald).

Action: Clinicians should be aware of this retraction. Papers making reference to this study should be viewed cautiously.