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Faking it

Scientists who cheat are putting the efficacy and safety of many of our medicines at risk

By John Naish   August 2009

Can you really trust science? Perhaps not. In a worrying report published in June, a third of medical and scientific researchers admitted to committing scientific fraud, and nearly three-quarters said that they have witnessed deliberate warping of data to show desired results. Only a very small proportion of these cases are known about fully—thanks to the lack of effective policing of the drugs industry—but medical fraud could affect anything from mild asthma medication to treatments for serious cancers. (See Jim Giles’s account of the Vioxx scandal, Prospect, November 2008.) Yet a crucial chance to tackle the problem is being squandered—thanks…

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