CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines is an "elaborate fraud," according to a medical journal - a charge the physician behind the study vigorously denies.
The British medical journal BMJ, which published the results of its investigation, concluded Dr. Andrew Wakefield misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study - and that there was "no doubt" Wakefield was responsible. The journalist who wrote the BMJ articles said Thursday he believes Wakefield should face criminal charges.
However, Wakefield said his work has been "grossly distorted." Speaking on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," he said Wednesday he is the target of "a ruthless, pragmatic attempt to crush any attempt to investigate valid vaccine safety concerns."
Related video: Autism-vaccine study author defends work
The medical publication says the study has done long-lasting damage to public health.
"It's one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors," Fiona Godlee, BMJ's editor-in-chief, told CNN. "But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data."
Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license in May.
"Meanwhile, the damage to public health continues, fueled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals and the medical profession," BMJ states in an editorial accompanying the work.
Related video: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta questions Wakefield
Wakefield dismissed Brian Deer, the writer of the British Medical Journal articles, as "a hit man who has been brought in to take me down" by pharmaceutical interests. Deer has signed a disclosure form stating that he has no financial interest in the business.
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