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April 15, 2009
Readers may have seen the recent sting operation on Coast IRB, an institutional review board company that's in the business of monitoring clinical trials. They signed off on a trial of a nonexistent product from a bogus company, which doesn't make them look very good, to put it mildly. Admittedly, they probably weren't expecting things to be faked from top to bottom, but still.
Now, according to the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog, it turns out that the congressional committee that ran this one also was checking out the Department of Health and Human Services to see if they were checking up on IRBs in general:
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., criticized Health and Human Services officials for failing to catch the fictitious IRB and registering it despite numerous red flags. “Nobody picked up on names like Phake Medical Devices, April Phuls, Timothy Witless and Alan Ruse — in the town of Chetesville, Ariz.?” he asked department reps.
Maybe someone should send some identical manuscripts to various peer-reviewed journals, co-authored by Witless and Phuls, and see how many of them get through. . .
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