Several months ago, we blogged on the fake clinical trials of Dr. Scott Reuben, a highly respected anesthesiologist and clinical researcher who fabricated the data in 21 separate drug studies published in peer-reviewed journals.
Reuben used the made-up data to affirm the safety and efficacy of drugs like Merck’s Vioxx and Pfizer’s Bextra and Celebrex. Since then, Vioxx and Bextra have been pulled from the market for raising the risk of stroke, heart attack and death, and the FDA has given Celebrex its strongest warning label, the black box warning.
Now, federal prosecutors have charged Reuben with health care fraud, and Reuben has apparently agreed to plead guilty.
Court documents indicate that Dr. Scott Reuben, an anesthesiologist, has agreed to plead guilty in exchange for prosecutors recommending a more lenient sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and forfeiture of assets worth at least $50,000 that Reuben received for the research.
Prosecutors allege the former chief of acute pain at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield sought and received research grants from pharmaceutical companies but never performed the studies. He fabricated patient data and submitted information to anesthesiology journals that unwittingly published it, court documents allege. –AP
This serves as a sad and disturbing reminder that even peer-reviewed medical journals can’t always be trusted to provide accurate safety information about prescription drugs—not because they are doing anything shady themselves, but because the occasional bad apple doctor gets greedy and ruins it for the rest of us.