Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thoughtful House -- Think Again

Warning: discredited British ex-Doctor Andrew Wakefield has set up house -- "Thoughtful House Center for Children" -- in Austin, Texas, to avoid British scrutiny and carry on his nefarious ways. Parents and guardians of young children should avoid him and his facility at all costs.

5/30/2010 Update: For the details of Andrew Wakefield's scam, see "Nailed: Dr Andrew Wakefield and the MMR - autism fraud:" by Brian Deer.

The British General Medical Council (GMC), which registers doctors in the United Kingdom, reported on January 28, 2010 that Dr. Andrew Wakefield had acted dishonestly and irresponsibly in connection with a research project and its subsequent publication. The hearing, which started in July 2007, centered on a study of children by Wakefield and twelve others that linked the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism and bowel problems. Subsequent studies found no connections, but sensational publicity caused immunization rates in the UK to drop more than 10 percent. Ten of the study's authors have since renounced its conclusions; and Lancet's editor said he should not have published the study and that Wakefield's links to litigation against the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine were a "fatal conflict of interest."

The GMC began investigating after learning that Wakefield had failed to declare he had been paid £55,000 to advise lawyers representing parents who belived that the vaccine had harmed their children. The GMC said that Wakefield had improperly recruited the patients at his son's birthday party, paid them £5 to give blood specimens, and later subjected some of them inappropriately to colonoscopy, lumbar punctures, and other tests without approval from a research review board. Wakefield was also criticized for not disclosing that he had filed a patent for a vaccine to compete with the MMR, and for starting a child on an experimental product called Transfer Factor, which he planned to market. The GMC panel concluded that the allegations against Wakefield could amount to "serious professional misconduct" and will deliberate on what action to take at a hearings scheduled to begin in April.

During the investigation, Wakefield relocated to Austin, Texas, where he helped found Thoughtful House Center for Children, a "nonprofit" clinic that offers many unsubstantiated treatments for autism. He does not have a medical license but oversees the clinic's research program. The clinic's latest (2008) tax filing lists his salary as $270,000.

[Hat tip to Consumer Health Digest #10-04, January 28, 2010]

[edited to add video clip 02/02/10]

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dirty Dealings at the Texas State Board of Education

Texas SBOE member Rick Agosto is highlighted as the swing vote for hire on the board in a recent Washington Monthly article Money and Power on the Texas State Board of Education.

This article was a sidebar to an article on the ascent to power of Texas SBOE's ultraconservative bloc Revisionaries.

Both articles are worth reading and highlight out how not just Texas' education standards have been corrupted by Texas' ultraconservatives.

Fortunately, Mr. Agosto has decided not to run for re-election in 2010. Unfortunately, the damage he has helped the ultraconservative bloc do to Texas' education standards will not go away with him.

It's about time Texas did some housecleaning at the SBOE. Aside from Agosto, there are three seats on the Board currently held by ultraconservatives which will be contested in the 2010 re-election. Of the three, Cynthia Dunbar is not running for re-election, but has five contenders for her seat. She has endorsed another ultraconservative to replace her -- Brian Russell. The other two are Don McLeroy, who is being opposed by Thomas Ratliff, and Ken Mercer, who has five opponents.

The candidates for the SBOE seats up for election in 2010 are shown here.