Why Are These Fraudulent Papers Unretracted?

According to Science Times[1], 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[2] but his 1996 US Seroquel® Study Group research is unretracted.[3] In fact, it is cited in 173 works and medical textbooks, misleading future medical professionals.[4]

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.[5] But his “research” on popular pain killers like Celebrex and Lyrica is unretracted.[6] 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[7], but the related work is unretracted and was even part of Seroquel’s FDA approval package for bipolar disorder.[8]

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.[9] 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cancer and false cardiac and cognitive benefits and were ghostwritten by marketing professionals not doctors, none has been retracted.

Pfizer/Parke-Davis placed 13 ghostwritten articles[10] in medical journals promoting Neurontin for offlabel uses, including a supplement to the Cleveland Clinic[11] but only Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews and Protocols has retracted the specious articles.[12]

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. [13] 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 smiller@beef.org, which should might have been the JAMA editors’ first tip-off.[14] The article has also not been retracted.

Martha Rosenberg’s is an investigative health reporter. Her first book,  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, has just been released by Prometheus books.


[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/17/science/rise-in-scientific-journal-retractions-prompts-calls-for-reform.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

[2]  Steve Stecklow and Laura Johannes, “Test Case: Drug Makers Relied on Two Researchers Who Now Await Trial,” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 1997

[3] Richard Borison et al., “ICI 204,636, an Atypical Antipsychotic: Efficacy and Safety in a Multicenter, Placebo-Controlled Trial in Patients with Schizophrenia,” Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 16, no. 2 (April 1996): 158–69

[4] Alan F. Schatzberg and Charles B. Nemeroff, Textbook of Psychopharmacology (New York: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2009) p. 609

[5] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-medical-madoff-anesthestesiologist-faked-data

[6] Scott Reuben et al., “The Analgesic Efficacy of Celecoxib, Pregabalin, and Their Combination for Spinal Fusion Surgery,” Anesthesia & Analgesia 103, no. 5 (November 2006): 1271–77.

[7] http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-42840768/astrazenecas-sex-for-studies-seroquel-scandal-did-research-chief-bias-the-science/

[8] http://www.lifesciencesworld.com/news/view/12152 (BOLDER study)

[9] Martha Rosenberg, “Flash Back. The Troubling Revival of Hormone Therapy. Consumers Digest, November 2010

[10] Kristina Fiore, “Journals Aided in Marketing of Gabapentin,” MedPage Today, September 11, 2009

[11] United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, Report on the Use of Neurontin for Bipolar and Other Mood Disorders,http://i.bnet.com/blogs/neurontin-09513078512.pdf

[12] P. J. Wiffen et al., “WITHDRAWN: Gabapentin for Acute and Chronic Pain,” Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews and Protocols 16, no. 3 (March 16, 2011); P. J. Wiffen et al., “WITHDRAWN: Anticonvulsant Drugs for Acute and Chronic Pain,” Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews and Protocols no. 1 (January 20, 2010);

[13] http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/299/24/2891.extract

[14] http://www.obesity.org/newsletter/nl200407.html

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What to Do at the End of the World? Interview with Climate Crisis Activist, Kevin Hester
Kevin Proescholdt
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Attacks America’s Wilderness
Franklin Lamb
Syrian War Crimes Tribunals Around the Corner
Beth Porter
Clean Energy is Calling. Will Your Phone Company Answer?
George Ochenski
Zinke on the Hot Seat Again and Again
Lance Olsen
Somebody’s Going to Extremes
Robert Koehler
Breaking the Ice
Pepe Escobar
The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China
Graham Peebles
Time for Political Change and Unity in Ethiopia
Terry Simons
10 American Myths “Refutiated”*
Thomas Knapp
Some Questions from the Edge of Immortality
Louis Proyect
The 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival
David Yearsley
Keaton’s “The General” and the Pernicious Myths of the Heroic South