Lies, Research and Drug Companies

February 22, 2010


Pfizer are I believe the second largest drug company in the world, and research articles published on their drugs run into the thousands. Now in the US, Dr. Scott Reuben, a former member of Pfizer’s speakers’ bureau, has agreed to plead guilty to faking dozens of research studies that were published in medical journals.

He was given a $75,000 grant from Pfizer to study Celebrex, a drug to help reduce pain after surgery, and his research on it has been used by hundreds of other doctors and researchers as “proof” that it was effective. Now it turns out that he never ran a trial on it, no patients were ever enrolled in the study and he made up the entire thing. Nor was this his first fraud, as reports in the Wall Street Journal have shown, as he was also found to have faked study data on Bextra and Vioxx drugs. Even more incredibly an internal audit at the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachussets, where he worked, found that he had been faking research data for 13 years.

Dr. Reuben has reportedly done a deal with the prosecutors to pay back $420,000 to the drug companies and faces up to ten years in jail. That should be a terrible warning you would think, but there is so much money at stake in the drug industry that there are widespread concerns that this is certainly not a one off.

The thing that saddens me is that alternative medicine is frequently dismissed as having ‘no scientific basis’ and being purely anecdotal, as if the patient’s experience is somehow not valid. However, if Dr Reuben is anything to go by at least the alternative market can point to actual trials on real people, and somehow I would far rather put my trust in that than in a study paid for by the company who is going to profit from marketing a new drug.


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