“His findings had a huge impact on the field…. Doctors have been using (his) findings very widely.” – Dr. Steven Shafer, editor, Anesthesia and Analgesia
Apparently, the medical community was “universally hoodwinked” by the highly respected, influential, and much-published pain drug researcher, Dr. Scott Reuben, who has reportedly admitted making up “some or all” of the data in at least 21 important studies between 1996 and 2008. Now, researchers in the field say, they will be re-examining the literature and may need to repeat certain clinical trials.
These were studies supporting the safety and ‘benefits’ of such drugs as Pfizer Inc.’s Bextra, Celebrex, and the Fibromyalgia drug Lyrica; Merck’s Vioxx; and Wyeth’s antidepressant Effexor, which Reuben’s studies reported could also be used for pain.
While the others maintain their FDA-approved status, Bextra and Vioxx (both Cox-2 inhibitors) became infamous when they were pulled off the market after evidence mounted that they increased patient risk of stroke, heart attack, and death.
An anesthesiologist specializing in post-surgical pain relief at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, Dr. Reuben was put on leave of absence after the hospital’s internal review board reportedly ascertained in a routine review that they had not approved some of his research. Their subsequent investigation revealed the extent of his allegedly unsubstantiated publications.
Journals which have retracted at least 13 of Dr. Reuben’s published studies so far include Anesthesia and Analgesia, and Anesthesiology. They've emphasized that Dr. Reuben's co-authors on the papers have not been accused of wrongdoing, according to Anesthesiology News, which broke the story on March 4.
“The retracted studies aren’t expected to affect the drugs’ regulatory status because Dr. Reuben’s studies weren’t part of the packages that manufacturers submitted to the FDA or European authorities," according to a New York Times report on the situation dated March 11. Nevertheless, some hospitals, including University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, say they’re reviewing their pain treatment protocols and conducting their own studies to verify the effectiveness of drugs that Dr. Reuben has reported on.
To review a listing of articles that Baystate allegedly "found were based on fabricated data," compiled by Anesthesia and Analgesia, click here.