Tag Archives: Tom Jefferson

Tom Jefferson Concealed Glaxo Consultancy from Lawsuit-Killing Paper

In a 2003, Tom Jefferson led a systematic review published in Vaccine mere days before legal aid funding was cut from MMR vaccine litigation in the UK. The review purported to exonerate the vaccine of causing autism and several gastrointestinal disorders. His sole disclosure in the review was that he “acted as an ad hoc consultant for a legal team advising MMR manufacturers” in 1999. He did not disclose what he would reveal in other publications, namely that he “acted as a consultant for…GSK (2001–2002).” GlaxoSmithKline was one of the manufacturers of MMR being sued. Jefferson concealed this from his Vaccine review and in his later Cochrane Review that drew similar conclusions in 2005.

Meanwhile, he was disclosing his GSK consultancy elsewhere including a 2004 article in BMJ  about influenza.

Later on, Jefferson began playing down his ties to GlaxoSmithKline as simply owning “shares” in the company. In his 2006 BMJ article critical of influenza vaccines, he disclosed that “he owned shares in Glaxo SmithKline” for an unspecified time. He made the same disclosure in a 2005 letter to The Lancet that included some of his fellow Cochrane coauthors, published the month before his Cochrane Review.


In the 2018 HPV vaccine critique he coauthored with Peter Gøtzsche, Jefferson’s “shares” had since morphed back into a paid consultancy.

The bottom line is that Jefferson was disclosing his ties to GlaxoSmithKline in publications where disclosure was convenient for him to do so. When he made the disclosure, he was critiquing influenza or HPV vaccines. When he didn’t, he was defending the MMR vaccine.

The problem is that these selective disclosures really show that Jefferson is influenced by his industry ties. He is so influenced by them that he will disclose them some places but not others depending on how they affect the perception of his publications.

Just as bad is the impact his earlier non-disclosures had on vaccine-injured children’s litigation. The cutting of legal aid from the UK’s Legal Services Commission effectively doomed their chances of justice. The disclosure of GlaxoSmithKline’s connection was particularly important, in light of the fact that the company thwarted the litigation in more ways than one.

Yet now Tom Jefferson is a “deputy director” of Peter Gøtzsche’s group ironically named the “Institute for Scientific Freedom.” Jefferson should never be trusted on issues of vaccine safety or academic freedom ever again.

Peter Gøtzsche Silent on His Deputy Funding Medical Censorship Agency

You knew or ought to have known that your reporting in the Lancet paper of a temporal link between the syndrome you described and the MMR vaccination had major public health implications. – UK General Medical Council’s disciplinary findings against two doctors it ordered struck off.

Following his expulsion from Cochrane over his criticism of HPV vaccination, Dr. Peter Gøtzsche has founded his “Institute for Scientific Freedom” with himself as director. It’s just held its inaugural symposium. He lists two deputy directors of the new institute; one of them is Dr. Tom Jefferson who resigned from Cochrane in protest against Gøtzsche’s dismissal. Yet Jefferson continues to pay annual registration fees to the UK General Medical Council, even after it demanded two of his colleagues’ de-licensure for publishing critically about the MMR vaccine in the seminal 1998 autism-vaccine paper. Gøtzsche has not responded to Autism Investigated’s request for comment.

Jefferson may be riding Gøtzsche’s coattails to feign love of “scientific freedom,” but Jefferson has a history of doing anything but. In 2005, he coauthored a Cochrane Review determining that MMR was “unlikely” to cause autism conveniently published the month after the General Medical Council charged the two doctors. He even cited the fraudulent “retraction of an interpretation” by the paper’s 10 coauthors including one of the doctors charged.

Since then, he has refused an award from the National Vaccine Information Center because it also honored the lead author of the 1998 paper who lost his license for not cosigning the fraudulent statement. Jefferson has coauthored a letter with Gøtzsche to the European Ombudsman calling the 1998 research “fraudulent,” and convinced Gøtzsche to back out as keynote speaker of the just-held Physicians for Informed Consent conference with days’ notice. Initially, Gøtzsche had planned on using his keynote to pump the MMR vaccine. So his cancellation is for the best.

In the past months, Gøtzsche and Jefferson have raised over 200,000 Danish kroners (over $40,000 US) in crowdfunding on GoFundMe. They continue to raise money despite GoFundMe’s new policy of forbidding funding for anything critical of vaccines.

The “Institute for Scientific Freedom” is more like the Institute for Scientific Hypocrisy. Spend your money elsewhere.