Phantom Patients

A study published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, which concluded that taking painkillers could protect against oral cancer, has been exposed as being based entirely on fabricated data. "He faked everything: names, diagnosis, gender, weight, age, drug use. There is no real data whatsoever, just figures he made up himself. Every patient in this paper is a fake," Stein Vaaler, the director of strategy at the hospital, told the Guardian. There is no indication that the co-author of Dr. Jon Sudbo's October 2005 article knew the data was falsified. In recent years, leading medical journals have sought to ensure higher editorial standards, better disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and exclude ghostwritten articles. The Lancet's editor, Dr. Richard Horton, told the BBC that "the peer-review process is good at picking up poorly designed studies, but it is not designed to pick up fabricated research."