26 Feb 2007

Controversial doctor meets controversial journal

Although we in the UK are familiar with the claims of Andrew Wakefield that the MMR vaccine is a cause of autism, we are less familiar with the claims from over the pond that mercury in vaccines is the cause of autism. Perhaps this lack of awareness is why Lancet Neurology has allowed Mark Geier, a highly controversial American doctor and anti-vaccines activist, to review a book on autism, but I doubt it.

Ben Goldacre has already done a fantastic job in explaining why Dr Geier may not be an ideal candidate to provide content for a respectable medical journal, and much more can be found on the Neurodiversity blog. From reading some of Dr Geier's work I know that I have doubts that it is sound, and the issues surrounding the ethical approval for his studies, his expert witness appearances and his patent applications certainly warrant close inspection.

It's not as though the Lancet journals are naive to this issue. The Lancet published Andrew Wakefield's original case series that brought about the MMR controversy and they had heard from Mark Geier before, when he wrote to criticise another researcher for their conflicts of interest (a case of pots and kettles). I know that the
Lancet journals delight in controversy, but I'd expect more sense than this from the editors.

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