Study of Studies Finds Retractions in Drug Literature Often Indicative of Misconduct

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In January 2003, The Lancet — one of the world's oldest and most respected medical journals — published an article championing the combination of two drugs (ACE inhibitors and ARBs) in treating certain types of kidney disease. More than 100,000 patients were prescribed these two drugs in combination.

But then an investigation concluded that the data in the study had been collected in a way that made it scientifically unsound. The Lancet printed a retraction, but thousands of patients still receive these drugs in combination.

This is just one case of several explored in a new study of studies by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. They found that nearly three quarters of retracted drug studies were retracted because of scientific misconduct like falsified data and plagiarism. Simon Pickard is the senior author of the study. Art Caplan is a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania.