Friday, March 27, 2015

Fraud in Science

Barbash, Fred (27 March 2015) Major publisher retracts 43 scientific papers amid wider fake peer-review scandal. The Washington Post,

[excerpted] A major publisher of scholarly medical and science articles has retracted 43 papers because of “fabricated” peer reviews amid signs of a broader fake peer review racket affecting many more publications. The publisher is BioMed Central, based in the United Kingdom, which puts out 277 peer-reviewed journals.…

Meanwhile, the Committee on Publication Ethics, a multidisciplinary group that includes more than 9,000 journal editors, issued a statement suggesting a much broader potential problem. The committee, it said, “has become aware of systematic, inappropriate attempts to manipulate the peer review processes of several journals across different publishers.” Those journals are now reviewing manuscripts to determine how many may need to be retracted, it said…

“The problem of fake peer reviewers is affecting the whole of academic journal publishing and we are among the ranks of publishers hit by this type of fraud,” Patel of BioMed’s ethics group wrote in November. “The spectrum of ‘fakery’ has ranged from authors suggesting their friends who agree in advance to provide a positive review, to elaborate peer review circles where a group of authors agree to peer review each others’ manuscripts, to impersonating real people, and to generating completely fictitious characters. From what we have discovered amongst our journals, it appears to have reached a higher level of sophistication. The pattern we have found, where there is no apparent connection between the authors but similarities between the suggested reviewers, suggests that a third party could be behind this sophisticated fraud.”

In 2012 I discussed the corruption of science by money with respect to this article about the drug industry:
As drug industry’s influence over research grows, so does the potential for bias. Peter Whoriskey the Washington Post Nov 24
[Excerpted] For drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, the 17-page article in the New England Journal of Medicine represented a coup. The 2006 report described a trial that compared three diabetes drugs and concluded that Avandia, the company’s new drug, performed best.
What only careful readers of the article would have gleaned is the extent of the financial connections between the drugmaker and the research. The trial had been funded by GlaxoSmithKline, and each of the 11 authors had received money from the company. Four were employees and held company stock. The other seven were academic experts who had received grants or consultant fees from the firm.
Whether these ties altered the report on Avandia may be impossible for readers to know. 

But while sorting through the data from more than 4,000 patients, the investigators missed hints of a danger that, when fully realized four years later, would lead to Avandia’s virtual disappearance from the United States....

Majia here: Unfortunately, this type of conflict of ethics is too prevalent in American medicine. Here is another example.
Harvard Medical School in Ethics Quandary. By Duff Wilson. The New York Times, March 3, 2009
BOSTON — In a first-year pharmacology class at Harvard Medical School, Matt Zerden grew wary as the professor promoted the benefits of cholesterol drugs and seemed to belittle a student who asked about side effects. Mr. Zerden later discovered something by searching online that he began sharing with his classmates. The professor was not only a full-time member of the Harvard Medical faculty, but a paid consultant to 10 drug companies, including five makers of cholesterol treatments. “I felt really violated,” Mr. Zerden, now a fourth-year student, recently recalled. “Here we have 160 open minds trying to learn the basics in a protected space, and the information he was giving wasn’t as pure as I think it should be.”
Majia here: Some of the worst examples of corruption in medicine involve children and the pushing of psychiatric drugs by doctors paid by pharmaceutical companies. The posts below examine this practice, especially the second one:
Jul 14, 2011
This individual pressed me to put my son on Risperdal because it had been approved for children with autism. I told her that I had read the clinical trial information about Risperdal and I would under no circumstances place my ...

May 27, 2011
Routinely prescribing anti-psychotics began when a corrupt psychiatrist popularized the category of biopolar disorder for kids in his research, while advocating use of risperdal. Dr. Joseph Biederman, a child psychiatrist at ...

Oct 05, 2012
... my account here of how one doctor pushed drugs for the dangerous anti-psychotic drug Risperdal while receiving payola from the manufacturer:

I have documented strangeness in radiation reporting as well:

he Plant Erupts into a Poison Fruit: Don't be Fooled by Those Evil Apples

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