Booth, William. "Hospital Faulted for Dry Eye Study," Science 243 (24 February 1989), p.
Here is more in the case of Scheffer Tseng and Kennety Kenyon, the latter at Harvard and the
former now at Miami University. Their work has been investigated by NIH, and which concludes
that their study of Dry Eye was slipshod and their "treatment" ineffective. Support for these two
has been stopped, but NIH seems willing to resume support if their respective universities will
assure the NIH that the two are competent to resume responsibilities as principal investigators.
The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary is reported to be "beefing up" its review processes on
human experiments. The implication: it is the university's responsibility to assure that human
subjects are protected. This is the first time I have seen this responsibility so clearly placed on the
university, thrust into the laps of the grant administrators. Universities, by implication, will be
held responsible for the misdeeds they overlook. (I had predicted, in 1983, that this would
eventually happen but this is the first time I've seen it in print.)
Mass Eye is concerned that NIH has ordered it to inform previous patients of these staff
physicians that the treatment they received was ineffective. The hospital is reported to be
reluctant to do that for very obvious reasons. Tseng and Kenyon suggest that the treatment may
have been ineffective, but it was "low risk" and should not cause concern among the subjects to
whom the vitamin A laced ointment was given.
In addition to NIH's investigation, the universities (Harvard and Maimi) and the FDA are
investigating the research of Kenyon and Tseng, and angry stockholders in the drug company
seek an investgigation. The stockholders are suing. It seems, too, that the SEC was conducting an
investigation looking into possible illegality concerning insider trading, but nothing on this is
The implication is that careless work and possible stock swindles are not considered serious as
far as organized medicine is concerned. The duo can continue to do research sponsored by NIH
and attested to as safe by Miami and Harvard, with no punishment at all. Considering the profits
that might have ensued had things worked out, this is not a big risk. Others, knowing this case,
might be willing to play the same games.