’60 Minutes’ Reports on Research Fraud
The need for human research subjects has become "so great" that some doctors are resorting to falsified samples and enrolling subjects who ordinarily would not qualify, CBS "60 Minutes" reports. "60 Minutes" highlights the case of Dr. Robert Fiddes, a former Southern California family physician who ended his practice to run experiments for pharmaceutical companies because they paid him more. Fiddes allowed one patient to take an experimental prostate treatment even though the patient's heart condition would put him at "great risk" if he took the medication. In other cases, Fiddes used patients who did not have high blood pressure for a high blood pressure study and falsified data to allow people without arthritis to participate in an arthritis study. Using a "hodgepodge of real and fake data," Fiddes wrote reports "that appeared in several reputable journals," "60 Minutes" reports. After his study coordinator Susan Lester "blew the whistle" on his practices, Fiddes was convicted of "conspiracy" to commit fraud, received a 15-month prison sentence and lost his medical license. According to Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, cases like Fiddes' are "disturbing," but not isolated. The federal government is taking steps to prevent similar cases, including upgrading the Office of Human Research Protection. But because of the increased need for human study subjects, pharmaceutical companies have "resisted virtually any regulation that would make their job more difficult" (Kroft, "60 Minutes," CBS 4/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.