Making up drug studies, and is the pressure for results too intense for clinician-scientists?

You may have heard the story of anesthesiologist Scott Reuben, who allegedly fabricated the results of 21 medical studies.

Orac, over at his blog Respectful Insolence, provides some perspective of the issue, saying, “Dr. Reuben’s fraud appears to eclipse even that of Andrew Wakefield [the disgraced researcher who wrongly linked autism to the MMR vaccine].”

Apparently, the pressure for academic physicians to generate results is intense, often with their jobs on the line if they fail to produce. Such pressure can sometimes lead to fraud, not unlike how Bernie Madoff felt compelled to provide guaranteed returns to his clients.

However, if the public is to believe science and the evidence-based way, there has to be trust.

“The public expects that its scientists, at the very least, will be honest about their results,” writes Orac. “Too much depends on it, especially in medical science, where it is people’s health that is at stake.”

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