Fictitious Patients in Cancer Study

Status: Scientific fraud
A Norwegian doctor, Jon Sudbo, who published an article in the Lancet last year suggesting that aspirin could reduce the risk of oral cancer, has been accused of making up the data in his study. Specifically, he invented almost all of the 900 patients in the study (or at least half of them, by other accounts). The director of the hospital where he worked said: "he faked everything: names, diagnosis, gender, weight, age, drug use." Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, said: "What I've been told is that he sat in front of his computer and made the whole dataset up and convinced his co-authors it was genuine... It's completely inexplicable." I guess that's one way to avoid having to get consent forms signed.

Other journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, are now finding evidence of fraud in articles they published by Sudbo.


Posted on Mon Jan 23, 2006

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There are two weird things about this one. One is that he MUST have realized from the very beginning that he would be caught, because his number of (supposedly) relevant cases was so big compared to the size of the real-life data base he claimed to have extracted them from.

The second weird thing is that it lasted long enough to see print at all! After all, he was making somewhat sensational claims, and such research are usually even more heavily scrutinized than other work.
Posted by eovti  in  Sandefjord, Norway  on  Tue Jan 24, 2006  at  06:44 AM
Actually the weirdest part is his 13 co-authors not catching onto it. Which means they probably were frauds too, which suggests cheating is more prevalent in medical research than we like to think.
Posted by Eivind  in  Norway  on  Tue Jan 24, 2006  at  01:22 PM
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