Doctor Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Drug Research Data

A Massachusetts doctor accused of falsifying scientific research concerning such drugs as Vioxx, Bextra, Celebrex, Effexor, and Lyrica has entered a guilty plea. According to federal prosecutors, Dr. Scott S. Reuben, former chief of acute pain at Bay State Hospital in Springfield, MA, had sought grant money from pharmaceutical companies in order to do research concerning their drug products. Prosecutors discovered that from 1996 to 2008, Reuben published 21 papers concerning his alleged research and in those papers, all or most of the data was falsified or fabricated completely. The fabricated research influenced doctors who, relying on Reuben’s work, prescribed drugs such as Vioxx to patients suffering pain associated with knee, hip, or other joint problems. Even the FDA was influenced by Reuben’s lies. In some instances, the federal agency decided not to restrict certain drugs based on Reuben’s testimony.
As part of his plea agreement, Reuben will repay $361,932 in research grants and forfeit assets worth at least $50,000. He has also agreed not to practice medicine. In addition, Reuben faces up to 10 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, the Associated Press said. His sentencing is scheduled for May.
It’s unknown how many people have been adversely affected by Dr. Reuben’s lies. This is perhaps one of the worst cases in which so-called scientific research is held hostage by influence peddling and money. It’s time, past time, that any research concerning drugs and medical devices be completely free from financial associations with medical device companies and/or pharmaceutical companies. Doctors have to be able to trust the research provided them concerning a drug or a medical device is objective and accurate. It can’t be tied to money or lobbying from the companies who manufacture the drug or the medical device. It’s disappointing to me that there’s scant mention of this issue on Capitol Hill when legislators discuss healthcare reform.