Editorials

Statutory regulation needed to expose and stop medical fraud

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i293 (Published 02 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i293

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Richard Smith, chair of the board of trustees
  1. icddr,b, Bangladesh
  1. richardswsmith{at}yahoo.co.uk

It’s increasingly hard to ignore the need for a statutory body for research misconduct

Anjan Kumar Banerjee, a surgeon, spent the years 2002 to 2008 erased from the medical register for serious professional misconduct related to research fraud, financial misconduct, and substandard care, yet in 2014 he was awarded an MBE “for services to patient safety.”1 This embarrassing mistake was quickly rectified, and the MBE forfeited. But he remains a fellow of three medical colleges. Each either awarded him or reinstated a fellowship after his erasure, and the University of London has not withdrawn his MS degree, which has been known for 15 years to be based on fraudulent data. The long sorry story of Banerjee that cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst tells in the linked analysis article,1 and has told in part before,2 raises serious questions about the integrity of medical and scientific institutions.

Wilmshurst’s story comes a few weeks after an article in the Times Higher Education about a report to government that says: “Senior figures in UK science have warned that despite decades of awareness of the cultural problems driving misconduct in science, little progress has been made … The draft … concludes that some research institutes, university administrators, funders, journals and science leaders have been covering up malpractice.”3 It’s splendidly ironic that this report is an unpublished “secret dossier.”

But what the report says is not news. The United States had several high profile cases of research …

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