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Fraud and Misconduct in Biomedical Research

Research fraud in all its forms comes under the microscope in this must-read for GPs who play an active role in clinical trials

Research fraud in all its forms comes under the microscope in this must-read for GPs who play an active role in clinical trials

This book provides an in-depth analysis of various types of fraud in clinical research that goes on at all levels in hospitals and primary care.

There are four types of fraudulent behaviour: fabrication, falsification, plagiarism and theft.

The book deals with different types of fraud prevalent in all parts of the world, especially in Europe and America where most trials are conducted.

Fraud occurs for a variety of reasons. Financial gain is one, with some triallists inflating recruitment figures by either including patients without actually administering drugs to them or enrolling phantom patients who don't exist at all.

Some eminent academic figures also are known to have committed fraud not for financial gain, but just to raise their professional profile, improve their CV and boost their ego.

Even though in UK there are many instances of doctors being referred to the GMC for falsification of records and clinical trials data, one gets the impression from reading the book that it is just the tip of the iceberg. It is a widespread phenomenon.

Author Frank Wells describes some high-profile cases of doctors who were investigated and found guilty of Serious Professional Misconduct by the GMC.

The highest-profile case was that of Malcolm Pearce - an honorary consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St George's Hospital Medical School - who claimed in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology to have successfully reimplanted the embryo of an ectopic pregnancy, leading to the birth of a baby.

It was a local anaesthetist who suspected that no such patient existed, a fact confirmed by meticulous investigation. He was referred to the GMC professional conduct committee which erased his name from the register.

The book describes various systems in place to promote good ethical standards of research and to prevent fraud.

It mentions the role of research ethics committees in approving a proposed clinical trial and assessing the suitability of study investigators based on their experience and their available time commitments.

It explores fully the role of whistleblowers in reporting any serious irregularities, the hurdles they face and the protection given to them from possible victimisation.

It is a book which should be read by all members of research ethics committees, academics planning to publish papers, editors of peer-reviewed journals and clinical trial investigators.

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