By Dr. Mercola
Exposure and subsequent concern over medical research fraud is on the rise, and for good reason.
It's now reached the point where blogs exist solely to cover retractions of published research1.
An episode of 60 Minutes, featured above, also highlights the problem.
In this episode, they reveal the dramatic rise and fall of Dr. Anil Potti, whose cancer research at Duke University was heralded as a groundbreaking game changer.
It's a perfect example of how fraud can occur anywhere. Even at the best institutions.
Dr. Potti's work, which entailed matching a patient's tumor to the best chemotherapy drug based on its DNA makeup, was the most exciting cancer breakthrough in recent history, according to many involved.
More than 100 cancer-stricken and desperate patients signed up for Dr. Potti's trial. Unfortunately, two years ago, it became apparent that the method was a failure. Not only that, but as stated in the 60 Minutes segment, Dr. Potti's discovery "may end up being one of the biggest medical research frauds ever; one that deceived dying patients, the best medical journals, and a great University."
Dr. Potti May have Faked Both Credentials and Research Data
Questions about Dr. Potti's research had been raised, but were cleared by a committee at Duke University. It wasn't until a confidential source tipped off the editor of The Cancer Letter to take another look at Dr. Potti's claim of being a Rhodes Scholar that the lies began unraveling.
Joseph Nevins, Dr. Potti's mentor and coworker at Duke University for over four years confronted him about the accusation he may have lied on his resume. Potti admitted that he wasn't really a Rhodes Scholar, rather it was a fellowship from Rhodes Scholars in Australia... Nevins decided to take another look at Dr. Potti's original data, eventually concluding that it was "abundantly clear" Potti had purposefully manipulated the data.
Whenever the data disproved Potti's theory, the data had simply been altered.
The claim that the novel procedure had an 80 percent chance of success was a complete lie, and patients in Potti's trial died. Some of the surviving family members are now suing. Dr. Potti has stated that he "... was not aware that false or 'improper' information had been included in the research." Duke University has also apologized for the trials, and has opened up about the case to serve as a warning example to other institutions.
But the greatest irony of all is brought up at the very end of the 60 Minutes' segment. While patients did not receive any groundbreaking treatment, Duke University has stated that none of the patients in Dr. Potti's failed trial were really harmed "because all of them received the standard of care in chemotherapy."
And THAT, my friends, is the real "Biggest Medical Fraud" of all time.
It's so big, 60 Minutes will not likely discuss that truth any time soon. In reality, virtually the entire cancer industry is one massive fraud, in the sense that it's not really allowing authentic and inexpensive cancer cures that address the cause of the problem to come to market. They are virtually all violently opposed and condemned. It's a massive for-profit industry, and unless a treatment revolves around a costly drug that can be patented, it will never see the light of day. The whole idea that the cancer industry is "searching for a cure" is a sham... because cures already exist. But they're being massively suppressed.
Why Many Groundbreaking Cancer Therapies are Suppressed
It's kind of sad to hear how Dr. Potti's idea of using DNA-matching to customize treatments created such waves of excitement, knowing that similar gene-target therapies have been vehemently suppressed, simply because they did not involve expensive pharmaceuticals patented by Big Pharma.
Burzynski: The Movie tells the story of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, who developed a non-toxic gene-target cancer therapy called antineoplastons, and has been harassed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for over 14 years in an effort to shut him down. His treatment could have helped save millions of lives over the last two decades had his discovery not been criminally suppressed by the U.S. government, as it has been shown to effectively help cure some of the most "incurable" forms of terminal cancer. The film is a powerful expose of the unscrupulous forces that work to maintain the status quo of the medical and pharmaceutical industry at any cost.
Why was Dr. Burzynski attacked while Dr. Potti was worshipped as a wunderkind?
Potti was working within "the standard of care," matching chemotherapy drugs to the DNA of patient's tumors, while Burzynski's antineoplastons are non-toxic peptides and derivatives of amino acids that work as genetic switches. In short, Dr. Burzynski developed a cancer treatment that surpassed all other treatments on the market, and the FDA, the pharmaceutical industry, and the National Cancer Institute all knew it. But he was also the sole owner of the patents for this therapy, and these two facts combined threatened the entire paradigm of the cancer industry.
The cancer paradigm is based on very expensive machines and toxic drugs. There's an enormous amount of money to be made in this paradigm, no one in the cancer industry, aside from Burzynski himself, stand to make a dime if his treatment is granted approval and goes mainstream. That's why it has been suppressed, despite the fact that antineoplastons have been shown to be far more effective than the current standard of care. The film features several remarkable case stories of people who were successfully cured of cancer, but it's when the clinical trial data of conventional therapies versus antineoplastons are stacked against each other that the benefits of antineoplastons become really obvious:
✓ Radiation or Chemotherapy Only
✓ Antineoplastons Only
✓ 5 of 54 patients (9 percent)
were cancer free at the end of treatment
✓ 5 of 20 (25 percent)
were cancer free at the end of treatment
✓ Toxic side effects
✓ No toxic side effects
Systemic Corruption within the FDA Threatens Your Health
Unfortunately, our government plays a significant and ongoing role in the committing of this kind of scientific fraud. I recently commented on the fact that the FDA secretly monitored the personal e-mail of nine whistleblowers—its own scientists and doctors—over the course of two years. The whistleblowers, who worked in the office responsible for reviewing medical devices, including those for cancer screening, had warned Congress that the agency was approving medical devices that posed unacceptable risks to patients.
Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health kept pushing for the Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) inspector general to investigate the employees, accusing them of improperly disclosing confidential business information about the devices.
Shuren is also the official who oversees mercury dental fillings, which they have been fraudulently referring to as 'silver fillings'. He had promised to make an announcement about dental amalgam by the end of 2011. But with just six minutes left in the work year, at 4:54 pm on Friday, December 30, the FDA conceded that no announcement was forthcoming – not in 2011, and maybe not at all.
I've long questioned the safety of mammography, based on compelling information from scientists and experts in the field. Here, we have a number of FDA employees warning Congress that the agency is placing patient's lives at risk, due to internal corruption... and still nothing is done.
The fact is, a lot of what the general public assumes is "science-based medicine" is anything but. According to one recent poll for the British Medical Journal, one in 10 scientists and doctors claim to have witnessed colleague's deliberately fabricating data in order to get their research published2. Back in 2005, Dr. John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece, showed that there is less than a 50 percent chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper will be true! He repeated his investigation in 2008 and found that much of scientific research being published is highly questionable. According to his study:
"Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true."
Add to that the fact that the FDA is not doing its stated job either, and it should be quite clear that there's really no one out there protecting your health from dangerous pharmaceuticals and medical treatments...
Notable Cases of Medical Fraud
While many believe Dr. Potti may go down as the largest medical science fraud case in modern history, we've seen several stunning cases in the last few years. Tragically, some if not all of them may have contributed to significant health ramifications and loss of life of many thousands of people:
• Scott S. Reuben, a prominent Massachusetts anesthesiologist, allegedly fabricated 21 medical studies published between 1996 and 2008 that claimed to show benefits from painkillers like Vioxx, Celebrex, Bextra and Lyrica. His work was considered important in encouraging doctors to combine the use of painkillers like Celebrex and Lyrica for patients undergoing common procedures such as knee and hip replacements
• Last year, autism researcher Poul Thorsen was charged with 13 counts of wire fraud and nine counts of money laundering. He also allegedly stole over $1 million from autism research funding between February 2004 and June 2008. He is said to have stolen the money while serving as the 'principal investigator' for a program that studied the relationship between autism and exposure to vaccines. He was involved in several key studies the CDC uses to support their claims that MMR and mercury-containing vaccines, among others, are safe. One of his papers on the subject, known as 'The Danish Study', is extensively quoted to refute the autism-vaccine connection
• In October, 2011, the Office of Research Integrity at the U.S. Department of Health discovered that a Boston University cancer scientist, Sheng Wang, had fabricated his research findings. His work was published in two journals in 2009, and he's been ordered to retract them. But important studies by other scientists like those at the Mayo Clinic, who based their work on his findings, could now see 10 years of their studies going down the drain as worthless...
• In November of last year, a noted Dutch psychologist confessed to fabricating research data for years. According to an investigating committee, Dr. Diederik Stapel falsified entire experiments, and several dozen of his fabricated papers were published in respected psychology journals and promoted in the media3.
• In January, resveratrol researcher with the University of Connecticut, Dipak Das, was found guilty of 145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data published in 11 different journals.4
How to Get Solid Information in an Era of Confusion
Ultimately, my take-home message here is that even if a drug or treatment is scientifically proven, all these examples make it crystal clear that this simply is not a guarantee of safety or effectiveness. Likewise, if an alternative treatment has not been published in a medical journal, it does not mean it is unsafe or ineffective. There's a lot to be said for the tried-and-true remedies of old, even if they've not been rigorously studied by modern researcher.
I recommend using all the resources available to you, including your own sense of common sense and reason, true experts' advice and other's experiences, to determine what medical treatment or advice will be best for you in any given situation. Remain skeptical but open -- even if it is something I am saying, you simply need to realize YOU are responsible for your health, not me and certainly not drug companies trying to sell their wares.
Seeing how it's been well established that most drugs do absolutely nothing to treat the cause of disease, it would be prudent to exercise the precautionary principle when evaluating ANY new drug claim, as it will more than likely be seriously flawed or biased -- and is most likely not in your long-term best interest.
If you're facing a health challenge, I recommend seeking out a qualified natural health consultant. A good place to look for recommendations is at your local health food store. Get to know the people who work there, the owners, and those who frequent the store, and obtain a consensus as to who the best clinician for you is in your area. Word travels fast in the natural medical community, so if there's a knowledgeable practitioner in your area that's getting awesome results, his or her reputation will be known. Of course, when it comes to cancer, you'll want to identify someone that is well known and respected for their work in treating cancer patients. If you don't find one locally then scour the Internet and make calls to plenty of patients that the practitioner has seen.