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Scott S. Reuben (born 1958) is Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. Reuben was considered a prolific and influential researcher in pain management, and his purported findings altered the way millions of patients are treated for pain during and after orthopedic surgeries.[1] Reuben has now admitted that he never conducted any of the clinical trials on which his conclusions were based "in what may be considered the longest-running and widest-ranging cases of academic fraud."[2] Scientific American has called Reuben the medical equivalent of Bernie Madoff, the former NASDAQ chairman who was convicted of orchestrating a $65-billion fraud.[1]

Background

Reuben was educated at Columbia University.[3] He graduated from medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1985 and undertook his anesthesiology residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Reuben fell under suspicion when Baystate Medical Center, where he was chief of acute pain, conducted a routine audit in early 2008. On March 10, 2009 a Baystate spokeswoman announced that Reuben has admitted that he fabricated much of the data underlying his research. Reuben never conducted the clinical trials that he wrote about in 21 journal articles dating from at least 1996.[2] In some cases, he even invented the patients.[4] Although Reuben often co-wrote papers with other researchers, Baystate found that the other researchers did not know about or participate in Reuben's studies,[4] and their names were forged on documents.[1][3] The hospital has asked the journals to retract the studies, which reported favorable results from painkillers including Pfizer Inc.'s Bextra, Celebrex and Lyrica and Merck & Co. Inc.'s Vioxx. His studies also claimed Wyeth's antidepressant Effexor could be used as a painkiller. Pfizer gave Reuben five research grants between 2002 and 2007. He was a paid member of the company's speakers bureau, giving talks about Pfizer drugs to colleagues.[5][6] Reuben also wrote to the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency not to restrict the use of many of the painkillers he studied, citing his own data on their safety and effectiveness.[6]

"Doctors have been using (his) findings very widely," said Dr. Steven Shafer, editor of Anesthesia and Analgesia, a scientific journal that published ten articles identified as containing fraudulent data.[7] "His findings had a huge impact on the field."[5] Paul White, another editor at the journal, estimates that Reuben's studies led to the sale of billions of dollars worth of the potentially dangerous drugs known as COX2 inhibitors, Pfizer's Celebrex and Merck's Vioxx, for applications whose therapeutic benefits are now in question.[1] All of Reuben's 21 fraudulent articles, as well as the article abstracts, are documented in Healthcare Ledger Magazine.

Reuben is currently on an indefinite leave from his post at Baystate, and he no longer holds an appointment as a professor at Tufts University's medical school.[6] His license status with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine is "voluntary agreement not to practice."

References

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