Altman, Lawrence K. "Federal Officials to Review Documents in Breast Cancer Study With

 

Altman, Lawrence K. "Federal Officials to Review Documents in Breast Cancer Study With
Falsified Data," New York Times, 27 March 1994, p. 22.

The NCI continues its efforts to assure the public that the conclusions published in NEJM by
Bernard Fisher, of Pitt, et al., in 1985 concerning the treatment of breast cancer are valid. This
reassurance is made necessary by the disclosure that at least one of the participating physicians -
one of hundreds who participated in their decade-long study - provided Pitt with phony data.
Subsequent analyses of the data by Fisher's team, with the falsified data removed, continue to
support the 1985 conclusion that lumpectomy with chemotherapy remains as effective as
mastectomy and chemotherapy. The physician who supplied the false data is Roger Poisson, St.
Luc's Hospital, Montreal.

Representative John Dingell is planning an investigation, to begin 13 April, of this latest
evidence of misconduct in Big Science.

A new embarrassment for Bernard Fisher of Pitt is the publication of a new paper in the Journal
of the National Cancer Institute of a study of the drug tamoxifen. The paper includes data from
Dr. Poisson but the editors of the journal were not told that. And, in spite of the fact that Fisher
himself knew Poisson's data were included, he did not withdraw them and went ahead and
published the paper without informing the editors. It's another black eye for Fisher and an
embarrassment for the editors of the journal.

"Despite efforts to try to restore confidence in the data, there is every indication that the debate
will continue for years.

"Federal officials are trying to recover the $1 million the Government has paid to St. Luc's
Hospital for the breast cancer research. But St. Luc officials, saying the hospital did not know of
the falsifications, have replied that they will ‘vigorously contest' in court such efforts.

"Despite the concern the news of the falsified data has raised, Dr. Freidman (an official on NCI)
says that the public should take heart that the scientific process worked and the falsification was
detected. ‘The irony here is that the public should feel comforted by this, not discomforted by it,'
he said."