Altman, Lawrence K. "Officials Apologize for Delay in Uncovering Falsified Data in Cancer

 

Altman, Lawrence K. "Officials Apologize for Delay in Uncovering Falsified Data in Cancer
Study," New York Times 14 April 1994, p. A17.

John Dingell's hearings concerning Pitt's flawed study of cancer, the National Surgical Adjuvant
Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) headed by Bernard Fisher began with Dingell attacking
Harold Varmus and Samuel Broder for their improper supervision. The NIH's director, and the
NCI director, were suitably apologetic and promised to amend their ways concerning supervision.
There is this rather strong quote provided: "‘We clearly understand the principle that we cannot
allow a grantee's formidable reputation, history of prior accomplishments, or service in science
to stand in the way of prompt, correction action and oversight. We cannot, and will not ever
again, defer or appear to defer to the timetable of a grantee in reporting fraud and fabrication to
the public.'"

The two officials placed heavy blame on Dr. Fisher whom they described as "arrogant and
cavalier" in ignoring his own study's guidelines and failing to publish a timely correction of the
falsified data.

Dingell was apparently mollified by the apology and promises made by these two top health
officials. At closing, "Mr. Dingell praised the officials as taking prompt steps to combat the sort
of scientific misconduct that arose in the study. Mr. Dingell suggested his committee has "sharp
teeth but is careful on whom we use them."

A number of women testified at this hearing concerning the revelation of fraud. Many reported
that women have "lost faith" in the National Cancer Institute and were terrified and anxious
about whether they had received proper therapy in electing lumpectomy over mastectomy.