My employer asked me to falsify data!

U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu
Fri Dec 29 14:24:35 EST 1995



an153878 at anon.penet.fi wrote on Wed, 27 Dec 1995 05:03:08 UTC:

>I am wondering how common it is in the biotech industry to
>encounter data falsification. Has anyone else out there
>encountered it?

I'm sorry... I can't comment on the biotech industry itself... just
academia.

But I will assume since larger monies are involved... it's probably
more prevalent then in academia.

And in 7 years of experience in acidemia... I've been specifically
asked twice to falsify data (where in one case, it was indeed for
something which could quite possibly end up in front of the FDA).

I've also seen people who 're-arranged data' in the computer... and
a few other odds and ends.

However, I really think sloppy work producing garbage data is an
even bigger problem and more common to see (in acidemia at least).

And exactly where is the line between knowingly falsifying data and
producing data which *you* know others within the group will use
with their 'garbage' data to help prove their point?

Personally, that's the line I find hard to define.  Yes, you can
sit and make sure *your* work is done as accurate as possible...
but when it gets piled into the work produced on a large project on
a whole... and those around you do sloppy work - aren't you just
adding to the spread of misinformation by providing 'some' accurate
data within it?

>Does anyone think the FDA would lift their eyebrows if they were
>to read this post?

Doubt it.  I posted the name of my last employer (with department
and institute) last summer... and listed all the garbage work they
were doing - and directly stated they have no business receiving
NIH monies and how rare site inspections are.

Nothing happened.

>Would the FDA even be interested in knowing the names of my
>employers?

They would probably seem interested at first... and then ask you if
this was revenge for them firing you.  ???  My guess.

>What are the legal implications of being employed by a company
>that submits falsified data to the FDA?

Well... only if their caught at it...

Then, it's none that I know of.  I've yet to hear of anyone going
to jail (even when deaths were involved during phase I or II
clinical trials!).

Mostly they just slap a large fine on the company... and if
deaths/illness was involved - then they spend 7-12 years in court
with lawsuits.

>What are the legal implications of being named a co-author on a
>publication which contains fabricated data?

Again, none that I know of.

And if your caught... which is highly unlikely in the first place.

Then they usually 'ask you' to comply by their suggestion that you
don't receive government funds for a few years... and that your
future work be reviewed for the same period of time.

Get a lawyer and fight it... then there are no implications to
worry about at all!

BTW, hire a PR firm and you could even get rewarded for lying and
cheating!

>How difficult is it to prove allegations like this?

Pretty difficult unless you kept notes and records of
conversations, specific data involved, etc.

And then if *you* are the whistleblower... well, now that's a
different ball game altogether.  You could be sued by the company
and black-balled from science in general.

There is NO PROTECTION for whistle-blowers.

Thus, your best bet is to keep your mouth shut... odds are nobody
will discover the falsified data for *years* (and then it will be
whitewashed anyway).

And just keep working on your career.  Because, basically, it would
be pretty much over otherwise.

>Thanks for any helpful discussion or suggestion.

You're welcome.

And believe me, this advice is not the 'right' advice for justice
and the pursuit of scientific truths... but it's sound advice for
you and your career.

-Kathy



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