Glaxo Probes Allegedly Fraudulent Data In Study
Written By Employees
In the latest instance in which a global drugmaker has become embroiled in a scandal over published study results, GlaxoSmithKline is investigating whether a scientific paper that was published three years ago and was co-authored by scientists at its R&D Center in Shanghai, China, contained fabricated data.
The drugmaker has also placed at least one employee at its R&D Center on temporary leave while the probe is under way, according to sources. The paper, which allegedly appeared in Nature Medicine according to Internet postings in China, examined the role of a protein called Interleukin-7 receptor in treating autoimmune disease. One of the authors listed is Jingwu Zang, who is a senior vp and head of R&D in China.
The existence of the internal investigation became known over this past weekend after blogs in China wrote about the development. This prompted three top Glaxo scientists – John Elliott, who is vp of chemistry at the R&D Center in China; Min Irwin, vp of medicine development, and Marina Zvartau-Hind, who heads neuroscience development – to issue an internal memo in hopes of quelling speculation.
“We can acknowledge that we are carrying out an internal investigation into alleged issues related to a scientific paper. As you know, we take such matters very seriously – the integrity of our research is critical to our work and we are doing whatever is required to investigate these matters fully,” they wrote in their memo.
A Glaxo (GSK) spokeswoman sent us this: “We are carrying out an internal investigation into some alleged issues related to a scientific paper but I don’t have further details at the moment – and it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on particular aspects of an investigation while it is ongoing. The integrity of our research is critical to our work and we are giving this our full attention.”
Separately, a spokeswoman for Nature, which also publishes Nature Medicine and other journals, told us that “It’s our policy not to comment on any paper that may or may not be retracted.” She adds that, in general, any retraction that does occur will be posted on its web site and visible to the public, since such notices are not kept behind a pay wall.
This is the second time in recent weeks that a global drugmaker has begun an internal probe over published studies involving employees. Novartis recently admitted that two employees in Japan had varying levels of involvement in clinical trials for its Diovan heart drug, which were initiated by investigators but were supposed to have been independent (back story).
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