I write in response to the guest column (Feb. 23) by Rep. Heidi Sampson, R-Alfred, “Yes, Big Pharma pulls the strings.”

I appreciate Rep. Sampson’s public service and her engagement in the debate about exemptions to vaccine requirements in Maine law, but her attack on the integrity of Maine Medical Association member Laura Blaisdell, M.D., and the physician community compels me to respond.

For decades, physicians have been among the most trusted professionals, along with nurses, pharmacists and teachers in public opinion polling. Year after year, including the most recent Gallup “Honesty & Ethics” poll, people rate the honesty and ethical standards of physicians, nurses and pharmacists as “very high” or “high.” These are the groups of professionals, more than 60 statewide, that support “No on 1.” Moreover, patients in Maine often rely on their physicians to help them make the most important decisions of their lives, and the patient-physician relationship must be based on a high level of trust. I’m proud to have worked with and on behalf of Maine physicians for the past 22 years; they are among the finest people I know.

An overwhelming majority of physicians put patients’ care first. Period. But, there have been some who have used their medical training inappropriately, and one is noteworthy in the vaccine debate. Andrew Wakefield, M.D., is the disgraced British physician famous for spreading vaccine fears and misinformation worldwide after authoring a 1998 study that claimed to link the MMR vaccine with autism. The study eventually was retracted after it was revealed that much of the research was fraudulent and that he had financial conflicts of interest in doing the work. Wakefield also lost his medical license, yet he still speaks out against vaccines and, remarkably, still is trusted in the anti-vaccination movement.

Andrew MacLean, Manchester
Chief executive officer, Maine Medical Association

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