Repercussions of Clinical Research Fraud and Misconduct that Healthcare Professionals Need to Know

Thursday, May 9, 2019
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Medical and clinical researchers spend many years and countless hours of research on clinical trials and investigations in hopes of contributing to their respective fields. Unfortunately, many also find themselves defending their reputation after being accused of clinical research fraud or research misconduct.

The Number of Complaints is Steadily Increasing.

Although accusations of research fraud and misconduct have been present for decades, the number of complaints is on the rise, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In certain cases, the researcher accused of the misconduct may actually be the victim. Some complaints are lodged by one or more unethical individuals who make the complaint for their own ulterior motives. Some researchers may be targeted by an academic institution or the government. Other cases may involve a "whistle blower" who may just have misunderstood the situation.

Common Situations and Accusations Medical and Clinical Researchers Face.

The most common accusations against medical and clinical researchers include: manipulating or concocting research data, failing to disclose financial interest or not properly disclosing conflict of interest, plagiarizing, failing to present data that contradicts one’s own previous research, overlooking the use of flawed data, and circumventing certain minor aspects of human-subject requirements.

Researchers also face an enormous amount of pressure from funding sources. That influence on a researcher can lead to these accusations: changing the design, methodology or results of a study to meet a funding source’s expectations, ignoring details or cutting corners to meet a deadline, fabricating, falsifying or mishandling of data to gain some form of reward or benefit.

These Types of Accusations can Cause Serious Consequences.

An accusation, even if later proven to be unfounded, may unfairly tarnish the personal and professional reputation of a medical or clinical researcher. It can cause the researcher to lose grants, bonuses and promotions, his or her employment may be terminated, or may even face criminal prosecution for fraud, theft or other applicable crimes.

To learn more on clinical research fraud and misconduct, click here to visit our Areas of Practice Page on our website.

Notorious Cases of Clinical Research Fraud and Misconduct in the Healthcare Field.

In August 2015, one of the world’s largest academic publishers, Springer, confirmed that it had retracted 64 articles for fabricated peer review reports. Other scientific publishers have made similar retractions, with reasons ranging from manipulated data about grizzly bears, to plagiarized writing about stem cell research.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs on these cases. 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Clinical Research Fraud and Misconduct.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys have experience in representing researchers, investigators, academicians and clinicians who are the subject of clinical research fraud and misconduct. The Health Law Firm and its attorneys also have experience in representing students, employees, researchers, investigators and "whistle blowers" who report such matters including those who become the victim or reprisals and retaliation by the person against whom the report is made.
Don't wait. Obtain the advice and counsel of experienced attorneys who are familiar with such matters and can assist you before it is too late.

If you are facing research misconduct or research fraud accusations, please visit our website for more information at or call The Health Law Firm at (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.


“Grantee Misconduct: Dr. Eric T. Poehlman.” National Institutes of Health. (March 7, 2012).

Arak, Joel. “Menopause Doc Fudged Data.” CBS Evening News. (February 11, 2009).

Interlandi, Jeneen. “An Unwelcome Discovery.” The New York Times. (October 22, 2006).

Winstein, Keith and Armstrong, David. “Top Pain Scientist Fabricated Data in Studies, Hospital Says.” The Wall Street Journal. (March 11, 2009).

About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

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