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Why are These Fraudulent Papers Unretracted?


According to Science Times , the Tuesday science section in the New York Times, scientific retractions are on the rise because of a "dysfunctional scientific climate" that has created a "winner-take-all game with perverse incentives that lead scientists to cut corners and, in some cases, commit acts of misconduct."

But elsewhere, audacious, falsified research stands unretracted-including the work of authors who actually went to prison for fraud!

Richard Borison, MD, former psychiatry chief at the Augusta Veterans Affairs medical center and Medical College of Georgia, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for a $10 million clinical trial fraud but his 1996 US Seroquel® Study Group research is unretracted. In fact, it is cited in 173 works and medical textbooks, misleading future medical professionals.


Scott Reuben, MD, the "Bernie Madoff" of medicine who published research on clinical trials that never existed, was sentenced to six months in prison in 2010. But his "research" on popular pain killers like Celebrex and Lyrica is unretracted. If going to prison for research fraud is not enough reason for retraction, what is?

Wayne MacFadden, MD, resigned as US medical director for Seroquel in 2006, after sexual affairs with two coworker women researchers surfaced, but the related work is unretracted and was even part of Seroquel's FDA approval package for bipolar disorder.

More than 50 ghostwritten papers about hormone therapy (HT) written by Pfizer's marketing firm, Designwrite, ran in medical journals, according to unsealed court documents on the University of California-San Francisco's Drug Industry Document Archive. Though the papers claimed no link between HT and breast cancer and false cardiac and cognitive benefits and were ghostwritten by marketing professionals not doctors, none has been retracted.

For example, a paper written by DesignWrite's Karen Mittleman , according to court-obtained documents, titled "Is there an association between hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer?" in the Journal of Women's Health finds, "these data fail to provide definitive evidence that the use of postmenopausal HRT is associated with an increased incidence of breast cancer," and is unretracted.

Pfizer/Parke-Davis placed 13 ghostwritten articles in medical journals promoting Neurontin for offlabel uses, including a supplement to the Cleveland Clinic but only Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews and Protocols has retracted the specious articles.

Since 2008, when Pharma-slanted science forced congressional investigation , major journals have instituted systems to obviate fraud and financial corruption and implemented stronger disclosure policies. One of the key figures investigated in 2008 for Pharma financial links was Alan F. Schatzberg, MD, former American Psychiatric Association president, in whose co-written textbook the Borison research still appears! Researchers and doctor authors also have a new awareness of the dangers of working from second-hand data that they have not personally collected or analyzed.

Nor is the phony science just a product of "Big Pharma." In 2008, JAMA was forced to print a correction stating that authors of an article arguing for a higher recommended dietary allowance of protein were, in fact, industry operatives. Sharon L. Miller was "formerly employed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association," and author Robert R. Wolfe, PhD, received money from the Egg Nutrition Center, the National Dairy Council, the National Pork Board, and the Beef Checkoff through the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said the clarification. Miller's email address, in fact was, which should might have been the JAMA editors' first tip-off. The article has also not been retracted.

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. Her first book, Born With a Junk Food Deficiency, has just been released by Prometheus books.

Judyth Piazza and Martha Rosenberg Discuss Mad Cow Disease, FDA and Big Pharma on The American Perspective

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist and cartoonist, who writes about public health Read more stories by Martha Rosenberg.

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