MA anesthesiologist accused of fabricating 21 studies

While we at FierceHealthcare have covered all kinds of allegations regarding skulduggery in the research business, particularly questionable behavior that advances pharmaceutical company interests.

This time, we're not even sure how to classify what's going on, but if the allegations are true, this is a real mess. A prominent Massachusetts anesthesiologist has been accused of fabricating no less than 21 studies involving mass-market drugs.

The studies, which appeared between 1996 and 2008, were authored by Dr. Scott Reuben, formerly chief of acute pain at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA. According to the hospital, Reuben faked data used in the studies.

Some of the studies under fire reported favorable results from the use of Pfizer's Bextra and Merck's Vioxx, both of which had spectacular flameouts and are no longer for sale. Other Reuben studies offered happy talk on Pfizer pain drugs Lyrica and Celebrex and Wyeth antidepressant Effexor XR.

Since the allegations came out, Pfizer released a statement to the effect that while it had paid for some of the doctor's research and paid him to speak on behalf of some of its meds, they knew nothing of his purported faking. Wyeth, meanwhile, said it wasn't aware of any financial relationship between itself and Reuben.

To learn more about this controversy:
- read this Wall Street Journal blog item

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