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Fake Medical Research

Imagine the following wonderful television advertisement. A friendly announcer's voice tells us that, "It has now been proven that eating chocolate increases muscle definition, causes weigh loss and, in certain circumstances has shown to regrow hair in men 55 and older." The ad then goes on to say, "new research has also shown that chocolate is the fountain of youth. Ask your doctor if chocolate is right for you".

First, as I was typing this blog, I wanted to believe this myself. In fact, I gave some thought to just hitting the publish button, to make myself feel good. However, the title of this blog is "Fake Medical Research", so you know that the ending here is not what we want. Second, this doesn't mean that chocolate doesn't have some value. I do like chocolate!  I just wish that what I am blogging below, only related to the humor or benefits of chocolate. Unfortunately, fraud is the culprit.

I post on fake research because the Associated Press has reported that federal prosecutors have announced that they have filed a health care fraud charge against a Massachusetts anesthesiologist, who reportedly used fake research data. In 21 published studies he suggested that Vioxx and Celebrex provided certain after-surgery special benefits. According to findings, Dr Scott Ruben has admitted to making up some or all of his supportive data for these studies, that were published during 2002-2007 and that the published findings had no scientific basis.

    This tale of phony research came to light last year when the hospital where he worked, found that this doctor had faked the data. At that time the Boston US attorney began looking into his conduct, as well. It was also found that during the period of these published studies, Pfizer had give Dr. Reuben five research grants, in conjunction with his published findings. Pfizer is the distributor of Celebrex.

 I blog on this for two reasons:  there is a connection to Pfizer and this law firm's hormone therapy litigation. The primary defendant in most of these lawsuits is Wyeth. In October, Wyeth was purchased by Pfizer. In the hormone therapy jury trials, the defense has called experts to testify on behalf of the drug company. I also blog on this because it shows that just because a drug company advertises benefits does not mean we shouldn't question the statements.  

Back to the fraud, an analysis of Reuben's relationship to Pfizer also shows that he was a member of the company's speakers bureau and gave talks to other colleagues about Pfizer's drugs. Despite this relationship, I didn't see any mention of Pfizer's concern over Reuben and his false data, when reading this Associated Press article. 

The FDA relies on the published data, when these drug companies seek approval. It's obvious that the advancement of science and cure is greatly effected by fraud. Plus, fraud is not the only concern when there is evidence that Celebrex and Vioxx are responsible, in certain instances, for causing death. Considering that, what responsibility does a drug company  owe when relying on such information? Is it fair that they can just keep their profits and turn a blind eye to such? Hopefully, juries will hold drug companies accountable for such actions or omissions.

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