As the Wall Street Journal reported:
"Just 22 retraction notices appeared in 2001, but 139 in 2006 and 339 last year. Through seven months of this year, there have been 210, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science, an index of 11,600 peer-reviewed journals world-wide …
At the Mayo Clinic, a decade of cancer research, partly taxpayer-funded, went down the drain when the prestigious Minnesota institution concluded that intriguing data about harnessing the immune system to fight cancer had been fabricated. Seventeen scholarly papers published in nine research journals had to be retracted. A researcher, who protests his innocence, was fired. In another major flameout, 18 research journals have said they are planning to retract a total of 89 published studies by a German anesthesiologist …" http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/15/mayo-clinic-finds-massive-fraud-in-cancer-research.aspx?e_cid=20111015_DNL_art_1
... Fabricated Research is More Common Than You Might Think
Peer-reviewed research published in medical journals gets the golden star of approval in the media, yet many, if not most, of the findings are incredibly misleading. One of the best exposé's into this muddled system came from none other than Dr. Marcia Angell, who was the former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
In her book The Truth about Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It, she exposed many examples of why medical studies often cannot be trusted, and said flat out:
"Trials can be rigged in a dozen ways, and it happens all the time."
For instance, in 2009 Dr. Scott Reuben, who was a well-respected, prominent anesthesiologist, former chief of acute pain of the Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, Mass. and a former professor at Tufts University's medical school, allegedly fabricated the data for 21 studies!
Dr. Reuben succeeded in getting numerous studies published, and those studies were accepted as fact and swayed the prescribing habits of doctors. It was only due to a routine audit raising a few red flags that a larger investigation was later launched.
So how did those false studies, or any studies for that matter, become worthy of being published? Part of the problem may be the peer-review process itself, as this puts researchers in charge of policing other researchers' results, and most do not want to insult a fellow researcher's work with negative comments.
As written in Gaia Health:
"It's all about money. Get published in a major medical journal and your future is made. Most peer reviewers are doing their own studies. That's what makes them peers. They want to be able to publish. Therefore, they are not particularly inclined to make more than perfunctory negative comments. Obviously, they don't want to alienate the authors of papers, since they either are or hope to become published themselves.
Peer review is a farce. The only kind of review that makes real sense is professional independent reviewers. Yet, for decades we've had peer review trotted out as the be-all and end-all in determining the legitimacy of papers. It's been unquestioned, while a little examination of the concept demonstrates that it's nearly certain to result in fraudulent work being passed as good science."
It's almost impossible to find out what happens in the vetting process, as peer reviewers are unpaid, anonymous and unaccountable. And although the system is based on the best of intentions, it lacks consistent standards and the expertise of the reviewers can vary widely from journal to journal.
Given that cancer research is such a lucrative business right now -- the National Cancer Institute, which gave the grant money to support Dr. Sheng Wang's fabricated research, had a $5.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2010 -- the stakes are exceptionally high. So it stands to reason that it may be subject to even more fraud and manipulation than less lucrative research prospects.
As The Economist reported, there were more new cancer drugs in development in 2010 than any other therapeutic area. Drug makers are well aware that a blockbuster cancer drug could easily earn them profits in the billions, even if the drug is only borderline effective. It is abundantly clear that profit is a primary motive of these companies so it should not be a surprise that they have moved in this direction, and this is where the abundance of research is focused as well. ...