The Pathological Optimist – new Andrew Wakefield biopic

Who is the man behind the one of the most highly controversial, intensely debated topics in modern medicine? A new film, The Pathological Optimist, brings us a character study of Andrew Wakefield MBBS. Famously, he was the lead author along with 12 others in the now notorious, 1998 paper in the UK medical Journal The Lancet. The paper recommended further research into a potential link between gut health and the MMR vaccine. Wakefield soon became a pharma scapegoat, he lost his medical licence, his professional life and ultimately his home in the UK. Andrew Wakefield will go down in history as the victim of one of the longest medical witch-hunts ever. Forever tagged as ‘discredited’, he has since devoted his life to trying to better understand the link between vaccines and autism and has inherited the role of what the medical mainstream refers to as, “The Anti-Vax Movement.” Wakefield, who currently resides in Austin, Texas, allowed the film team to follow him and his family for five years, beginning in 2011 as he fought a defamation battle in the courts against the British Medical Journal and journalist Brian Deer. The results of that case – the self-reflection, pronouncements, and observations of Wakefield, his legal team, wife, and children – create a complex and incisive look at one of our era’s most fear-provoking and continuously provocative figures. The Pathological Optimist takes no sides, instead letting Wakefield and the battles he has been forced to fight speak for themselves.

The film is now showing in the US via the Film Arcade in a limited number of locations. For the rest of us, we can sign up, give your location, and we'll be notified when a showing will be in our area.

Has measles really been eliminated?

Headlines tell us that measles has been ‘eliminated’ in the UK and New Zealand and that Governments are patting themselves on the back for successful vaccination programs. These claims are based on WHO reports. However, the term ‘eliminated’ is a little misleading. The WHO definition of elimination refers to the “Absence of endemic measles virus transmission in a defined geographical area (e.g. region or country) for ≥12 months in the presence of a well- performing surveillance system”. In other words, no cases of measles or rubella have originated in either country in the past three years. This doesn’t mean that there are no cases of measles occurring, just that they’ve not originated in the UK or New Zealand and any cases are deemed to have been brought in by overseas visitors. Despite the headlines, measles has not been eradicated, but it is considered to have been reduced to a level low enough to stop it spreading through the general population for at least three years. Whilst the public are being told the ‘elimination’ of measles is down to the success of vaccination schemes, infection with measles and associated mortality has been in steep decline from the start of the 20th century. However, lest you think that vaccination is no longer necessary, health authorities continue to call for more adults to be given the MMR vaccine despite ongoing safety concerns. If you agree that health authorities should not be saying that vaccines are ‘safe’ please sign our petition.

Bee killing pesticides found in honey

As the use of pesticides known as neonicotinoids has grown in recent years there has been a significant loss of pollinators including honey bees. A new study that tested honey from nearly 200 sites around the world, has found that more than 75% of the honey sampled contained neonicotinoids. Researchers said that the levels were high enough to cause harm to bees, but were not of concern to human health. Samples from North America contained the highest levels of the pesticide, with Asia and Europe closely following. This is of even more concern as neonicotinoid use is banned in Europe, however these data show the continued illegal use of these harmful chemicals is still going on.

Curcumin nanoparticles – good for Pharma bad for traditional medicine

Researchers have developed a nanoparticle curcumin designed to be absorbed more effectively as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Big Pharma is turning its attention to botanicals now that patents on the blockbuster drugs have run out. The race is on to isolate natural compounds in an attempt to profit from patents, given that natural compounds as found in nature cannot be patented. However, it’s the synergy in nature that’s at the root of effectiveness and isolated actives can end up harmful like any new-to-nature molecule. Whilst this curcumin product may benefit IBS sufferers, it’s evident that the increased pressure to limit the availability of botanical supplements by legislation is linked to pharmaceutical companies turning their attention to natural compounds in botanicals as new drugs.