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Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

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Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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June 6, 2013

Research Fraud at GSK Shanghai?

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Posted by Derek

Update: the story continues to develop. The scientist mentioned below, Jingwu Zang has been dismissed from GSK, and others are under investigation. The paper itself is in the process of being retracted. More here.

This is quite bad. Reports have been circulating that GlaxoSmithKline is investigating the scientists (and the results) behind this 2010 paper in Nature Medicine.

That first link from Pharmalot mentions this thread at the Chinese site, and similar stuff has been showing up elsewhere. The online speculation is about Jingwu Zang (sometimes appearing as Zhang, the more common transliteration of the name), who was the lead author on the paper. Various postings (from the same person?) claim that Zang has been let go from GSK, and the Biocentury link in the first paragraph says that mail to his corresponding address bounces back.

The paper is (was?) on IL-7's role in autoimmune disease, a perfectly good topic for a drug company research group to be investigating, of course. But now we're going to have to watch to see if any retraction comes out of this - GSK doesn't have to comment on their hiring (and firing) decisions, but I hope that they wouldn't let a fraudulent Nature Medicine paper stand. That's the really disturbing thing about this situation; I'll see if I can explain what I mean.

A critic from outside the drug industry might say "So what? You people publish shady junk all the time? What's another truth-stretching paper, more or less?" Now, I resent implications like that, but at the same time, there have indeed been instances of nasty publication behavior (ghostwriting, etc.), which I deplore. But those things have been driving by the desire to increase sales of approved drugs. They come from overzealous marketing departments clawing for share, trying to get physicians to write for the company's drug over the other choices.

But the further back you go from the elbow-throwing front lines of the market, the less of that stuff you should see. The paper under scrutiny is early-stage research; it could have come from any good lab (academic or industrial) studying T-cell behavior, multiple sclerosis, or autoimmune mechanisms. Frankly, most of the shady stuff (and retractions) in this kind of work come from academia: the viciously competitive front lines of their market are publications in prestigious journals (like Nature Medicine), which directly bear on funding and tenure decisions. Drug companies have an incentive to stretch the truth about how wonderful their current drug is, not about what their scientists have discovered about biochemistry and cell biology. That doesn't bring in any money.

But what a publication like that does bring in, perhaps, is internal prestige. If you're trying to show what a big deal your particular branch of the company is, and what high-quality work they do, this would be one good way to do it. Keep in mind, publications like this are not the primary goal of people in the drug business; it's not like academia. The job of a drug company research group is to increase the number of drugs the company finds, and publishing in a good journal really doesn't have much to do with that. This publication, though, is a way of telling everyone else - other drug companies, other academic and industrial scientists, other departments and higher-ups at GSK, who may or may not know much about immunology per se, that GSK's Shanghai labs do good enough work to get it into Nature Medicine.

And while we're talking about this, let's talk about another widely-held belief about pharma research branches in China. There have, of course, been a number of these opened over the last five or ten years. And there are a lot of good scientists in China, and there are a lot of research topics that are relevant to the needs of a big drug company, so why not? But it's also widely assumed - although this is certainly not written down anywhere - that the Chinese government very much encourages big foreign companies to start such operations in China itself. If you lend your company's internationally known name to an operation in Shanghai (or wherever), if you invest in getting that site going, if you hire a big group of Chinese nationals to work there and manage things. . .well, the Chinese authorities are just going to like you more. Aren't they? And while being liked by the authorities is never a bad thing in any country in the world, particularly in a heavily regulated industry like pharmaceuticals, it is a particularly good thing in some of them.

This is an unfortunate situation. I believe very strongly in a government of laws, not of men - appropriately enough for where I work, that phrase was written by John Adams into the Constitution of Massachusetts. It's an ideal very difficult to realize, particularly since both Massachusetts and the rest of the world are stocked with human beings, but ideals are supposed to be difficult to realize. I understand that personal connections matter all over the world, and that this is by no means always a bad thing. But the bigger and broader the issues, the more important should be the rule of law.

The particular problem of multinational Chinese research institutes, which this current scandal can only worsen, is that too many people can assume that they've been built mainly to satisfy the Chinese government. They suffer, in other words, from the curse of affirmative action (and other such preference programs): the ever-present suspicion that once merit and ability are made secondary, that all bets are off. (This online debate at The Economist does a good job of airing out such concerns). In other words, the government of China could well end up accomplishing the exact reverse of what it's presumably trying to do: instead of elevating Chinese research (and researchers), it could be damaging the reputations of both.

Comments (58) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Dark Side | The Scientific Literature


1. alig on June 6, 2013 8:33 AM writes...

A few years back GSK brought in an academic, Patrick Vallance, to run drug discovery. He has emphasized publishing to a much greater extent than his predecessors. You now see research being published much earlier from GSK than would have previously been allowed.

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2. Hap on June 6, 2013 8:45 AM writes...

1) Why would you want to cheat in a publication at your work? It's not like no one's going to try to reproduce your work; it seems likely that people on whom your career might depend will redo it, so you will get caught, eventually. Of course, I guess you could ask Schoen about that if you can find him.

2) At the numbers of researchers foreign companies are hiring in China, I wouldn't think government prodding would come into play, necessarily - there ought to be a large enough pool of scientists in China that companies outside China should be able to get good ones.

I don't think you need the government's help to hire unqualified people for scientific and management positions - it looks like companies can do that quite well on their own.

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3. KissTheChemist on June 6, 2013 9:02 AM writes...

This is not the first time we have come across the fundamentally different attitudes towards right / wrong, ethical / unethical of some Chinese scientists. See Retraction Watch for more.

That said, there are plenty of EXCELLENT Chinese scientists and I imagine they are pretty disgusted by what's being done to the rep of Chinese science as a whole. I'm shocked that this has happened at GSK though. Time for Chinese science to take a stand and get tough on fraud?

Just read that back and its missing something - we should remember "innocent until proven guilty" too!

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4. anonymous on June 6, 2013 9:16 AM writes...

Boils down to one simple concept: ethics and integrity. In the Judeo-Christian scheme of things, which John Adams and other signers of the Declaration of Independence formally embraced, the Chinese (PRC vs ROC) have no sense of ethical behavior. I have seen this time and time again over the last thirty years working with them. Their god is money.

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5. Legolas on June 6, 2013 9:31 AM writes...

If Chinese scientists behave the same way as Chinese businessmen do...I think Anonymous (4) is right. You can't deal with someone who is always trying to cheat on you and not respecting agreements

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6. Anonymous on June 6, 2013 9:44 AM writes...

I'm not sure how accurate this is, but it has been explained to me as the difference between a 'guilt' culture and a 'shame' culture.

In a 'guilt' culture you should always do the right thing, and if you don't you should feel guilty about it.

In a 'shame' culture, there must be another person present to get people to do the right thing. If nobody else is around, it didn't really happen. This is why live animals are present at the market; if you don't see it killed with your own eyes, how do you know it is fresh? The assumption that is made by the customer is different (aka if you did it when I wasn't there, you are probably trying to screw me).

I've had a much more productive experience with Asian CRO's when I have insisted on seeing the primary data (NMR's, LCMS's, etc.). This could be because I didn't assume they were telling me the truth (shame vs guilt), and/or I was using the 'inspect what you expect' management technique.

I'm not 100% sure that the shame vs guilt this is correct, but it is an interesting hypothesis.

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7. NMH on June 6, 2013 9:45 AM writes...

And I heard that a chinese buisness wanted to buy Smithfield meats *shudders* I am so glad I went vegetarian.

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8. anchor on June 6, 2013 10:00 AM writes...

So, I ask what else is new here? Haven't we seen this play again and again? It is all in your genes they say and if you do not have that "ethic and morality" gene in you, we will hear it again. I take my umbrage with the big pharmaceutical and I see that the Chinese companaies and workers are rewarded for their illicit accomplisments!

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9. student on June 6, 2013 10:04 AM writes...

I'm a little uncomfortable with the bashing of "The Chinese". The problem is institutional and possibly cultural, with a perverse set of incentives (ie. huge bonuses for every paper in Nature/Science, bonuses for number of papers published regardless of merit, etc). I have seen no difference in ethical standards from Chinese people who work in America to US citizens.

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10. JRnonchemist on June 6, 2013 10:19 AM writes...

Culture is not necessary to explain things. Some would describe the foundation of the government of the People's Republic of China as being systemic fraud and wanton disregard for human welfare*. So, especially where said government is heavily involved in what is happening, one should expect?

Part of the cultural or governmental test would be whether Taiwan (RoC) has the same rate as the PRC. That said, no one would do that study without an axe to grind, and it probably wouldn't be trivial.

*I more or less assume that Chung and Halliday's _Mao: The Unknown Story_ is correct.

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11. newnickname on June 6, 2013 10:23 AM writes...

@4, "no sense of ethical behavior": Western ethics may be rooted in Greece and Rome or earlier; Plato = 500 BC. One of the more well known foundations of Eastern ethics is Confucius; Confucius = 500 BC. Many comparisons can be made: some similarities ("The Golden Rule"), some differences (see @6, shame vs guilt). Did Mao give Confucianism a beat-down? Is Aristotle buried under Wall Street?

Many people around the world, East and West, have no ethics. I partially agree with @8, that there is something fundamental in a persons development (Freudian superego) that renders them more likely to cheat and cheat and remorselessly cheat again.

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12. DCRogers on June 6, 2013 10:26 AM writes...

Another factor in the growth of Chinese and other non-US-and-EU sites is the bean-counter-driven offshoring of research.

Management incentives are for short-term payoffs, so they want to cut programs that only provide long-term benefits (a.k.a. research). However, it's too obvious to just gut research and leave nothing, so the pretense that the research has just been moved to a cheaper place is a win-win from their perspective.

By the time results arrive, or (more likely) fail to arrive, the bonuses have been paid and it's Not. Their. Problem.

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13. NJBiologist on June 6, 2013 11:20 AM writes...

@2 Hap: "1) Why would you want to cheat in a publication at your work? It's not like no one's going to try to reproduce your work; it seems likely that people on whom your career might depend will redo it, so you will get caught, eventually."

My experience leads me to disagree--it's been my experience that you publish the dead projects, and the fact that it's been published on helps deaden a project. That would suggest that noone at your company will try to reproduce your work, making it fertile ground for fraud.

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14. Hap on June 6, 2013 11:36 AM writes...

For medchem, I would have assumed so, but not for more fundamental stuff. That wasn't the case with Schoen, although it's a different field and the motives were different (I don't think he was developing products, but trying to build reputation).

It would be smarter not to cheat on internal research, but I wonder if that's possible (if people who would cheat have the experimental capacity to do good research otherwise), and if it would matter (if you cheated on your paper, would people trust your other work?). I am presuming no to both, but I don't know.

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15. anonymous on June 6, 2013 12:12 PM writes...

Not the first paper retracted from a GSK research group due to "bad science" nor will it be the the last..

see Science 20 December 2002: 2327.

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16. Paul Brookes on June 6, 2013 12:26 PM writes...

So a brief look at this paper brings up the following problems...

-Figure 1g, same isotype control data (gray) used in left and center panels.

-Figure 2a, the 1st and 2nd panels on the left in the bottom row are the same data (but the quantitation on the scatter plots is different).

-Figure 3e, the isotype controls (gray) in the first 3 panels from the left, are all the same.

-Same dealio in Fig. 4a, 2nd row, and 4th row and 4e 2nd row. Possibly 5b too. Defnitely in 6a right panels (2 different donors, same isotype control plots).

-Supplementary Figure 2, top right panel is same as the one below it (pixel for pixel match).

-Figure 6b, same controls, blah blah, this is boring.

If you'll excuse a terrible pun, the FACS of the matter speak for themselves!

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17. Kevin on June 6, 2013 12:59 PM writes...

Nice work there Paul, nice work.
It was nice FACSimily of a scientific paper...

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18. Appalled on June 6, 2013 1:42 PM writes...

I am neither making excuses nor defending Jingwu Zhang or the Chinese government. If the charges are proven, he definitely deserves what he will (or should) get. And the culture of economic growth and national prestige at any cost that is promoted by the Chinese government undoubtedly contributes to episodes like as others have pointed out. The whole episode is appalling, smells bad, and gives everyone in pharma R&D a bad name (as if the public needs more reasons to vilify the industry). But just remember the data fraud that occurred at Duke that formed the basis for clinical trials before it too was uncovered. So it is not a China-specific issue.

That said, what about the culpability of GSK management in hiring a fellow like Dr. Zhang and putting him in charge of a large R&D center with apparently little to no oversight? I've heard that existing GSK research sites in US and EU were closed and people let go so that these efforts could be moved over to GSK China. Who made those decisions and what does that say about GSK management's priorities and commitment to high quality and meaningful research? Maybe there is a bigger issue here about how laboratory research is regarded within pharma these days.

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19. Chemjobber on June 6, 2013 1:44 PM writes...

Anon (#4), can you talk a bit about what you think the difference between PRC and ROC Chinese might be, w/r/t their morality?

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20. mass_peccer on June 6, 2013 2:15 PM writes...

Does anyone actually have any quantitative data supporting this idea that Chinese researchers constantly commit fraud? (i.e. fraud per person working in research or something)

It seems that whenever a Chinese researcher is accused of anything it's because they're Chinese, whereas if an American/European is accused of something, they're individually a bad person.

A related question: How many people work in research in China? (compared to the US/Europe etc?) Is the rate of fraud any higher when this is taken into account? (This is a genuine question - I have no idea of the answer either way).

(In case it matters, I'm English)

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21. Adam on June 6, 2013 2:25 PM writes...

This is quite uncomfortable for me to see the discussion here, especially here, deteriorates into another "China bashing" talk show. Where are you guys' soul searching when all those other scandals being exposed on the Retraction Watch happen that involve non-Chinese chemists? How many of those are done by Chinese scientists? Like any group of people, there are no lack of bad people in China and among the scientists with Chinese ethnicity. But labeling the entire group unethical because of some specific person's behavior is outrageous. A vast majority of Chinese chemists who work either here or in China have been labeled by you guys as "culturally tended to cheat".

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22. Jejuni on June 6, 2013 2:38 PM writes...

Rumours have been swirling around GSK in the UK about nefarious doings in Shanghai. Apparently Witty had to spend a lot of time out there trying to get a grip on things. Not sure if this incident is related to that but it would not surprise me if it was.

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23. Anonymous on June 6, 2013 2:41 PM writes...

Is there any logic to link a GSK fraud to all Chinese scientists and even China goverment? Why not blame stupid GSK management who hired someone who was well known to fake data for many years to head GSK China R&D? Derek you racist!

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24. Anonymous on June 6, 2013 2:42 PM writes...

Is there any logic to link a GSK fraud to all Chinese scientists and even China goverment? Why not blame stupid GSK management who hired someone who was well known to fake data for many years to head GSK China R&D? Derek you racist!

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25. Anonymous on June 6, 2013 2:44 PM writes...

Is there any logic to link a GSK fraud to all Chinese scientists and even China goverment? Why not blame stupid GSK management who hired someone who was well known to fake data for many years to head GSK China R&D? Derek you racist!

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26. Anonymous on June 6, 2013 2:45 PM writes...

Is there any logic to link a GSK fraud to all Chinese scientists and even China goverment? Why not blame stupid GSK management who hired someone who was well known to fake data for many years to head GSK China R&D? Derek you racist!

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27. Anonymous on June 6, 2013 3:41 PM writes...

Moncef and Patrick - fire them both... yesterday.

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28. johnnyboy on June 6, 2013 4:13 PM writes...

Where is Agilist when you need him ?

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29. ptm on June 6, 2013 4:26 PM writes...

Evil Chinese scientists are up to their old tricks again...

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30. Anonymous on June 6, 2013 5:22 PM writes...

@29, keep flipping burgers or you will be fired...

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31. annon 2 on June 6, 2013 6:06 PM writes...

This IS VERY interesting. JZZ of the manuscript was hired by GSK to start the R&D enterprise in China. In other words, all of R&D in China reported to him. His background was Neuroscience or Neurochemistry. In the GSK world, he had reported to Monsef Slaoui, Chairman R&D for GSK. He did not report to Patrick Vallance.

Another great hiing decision by Monsef and Sir Andy the dandy.

It would appear that JZZ no longer is with GSK China.

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32. CMCguy on June 6, 2013 6:16 PM writes...

While many commentators have taken easy stereotypical target to bash "Chinese" and few take hits at reputation of GSK I would have to point to Derek's swipe at "overzealous marketing departments" and then jump to circumstances in academia fostering misbehavior. I do not think there was any intended implication that industrial R&D is less subject to "bad acts or actors" because as suggested they too are "stocked with human beings". Having observed a fair amount of lying, cheating and stealing as people try to get ahead, play politics or establish themselves there is much dirt around all of us. Much of these actions were not always overt, although occasionally have been obvious, and took time to recognize but unlike Marketing missteps that are frequently highly visible such lapses of ethics in R&D can be inherently damaging to progress. We all basically live in glass-houses so if start throwing stones no one comes out ahead (except may be window repairmen, except probably the lawyers as well)

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33. Anon3 on June 6, 2013 6:49 PM writes...

Whoa! Maybe people need to slow down a bit - no misconduct has been proven yet. I doubt if most of the commenters here even looked at the original article.
I did. And I have a question for #16 Paul Brooks - you have quite a reputation for exposing scientific fraud, and you said , "supplementary figure 2, top right panel is the same as the one below ( pixel for pixel match)". Care to post the data somewhere? I looked at the figure and they don' t match, even by eye.
Maybe there is fraud here. I'm not an image analysis expert, but so far all that this is based on is gossip on Chinese blogs. Amazing how we trust Chinese gossip sites but not Chinese scientists!

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34. Anonymous on June 6, 2013 9:32 PM writes...

I guess things have changed in 7 years:

“Dr. Zang brings to his role at GSK both an understanding of the biomedical research community in China and international experience as a scientist and clinician,” said Dr. Slaoui. “He has, moreover, demonstrated his capacity to assemble the talent required to make a success of a new R&D initiative.”

He apparently brought some other skills to the job.

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35. Simple mind on June 6, 2013 10:37 PM writes...

Do not know all of the facts in this situation. Fraudulant data publishing is always disappointing as it is almost universally done for fame and fortune. What is potentially more disconcerting is the why it was revealed on an external blog and not brought to light through gsk channels. Is there an intolerance to people who question authority or do they fear for their jobs if they do not comply with there supervisors. Why wasn't the person who revealed this comfortable doing this within GSK? Nothing to do with this being a " Chinese" issue but it may be a culture issue....GSK culture.

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36. Sili on June 6, 2013 11:05 PM writes...

It seems that whenever a Chinese researcher is accused of anything it's because they're Chinese, whereas if an American/European is accused of something, they're individually a bad person.
Of course. Othering is an excellent coping strategy.

You just have to look at Stapel to see how fundamentally racist the notion is. I haven't seen anyone dismissing all of Dutch science because of him.

Nice to get the Judaeo-Christian thing wedged into the issue together with the hagiography of the Founding Fathers™. I didn't realise there were so many atheists in US politics.

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37. Insilicoconsulting on June 7, 2013 2:50 AM writes...


Novartis employees may take ceo Joe Jimenez seriously when he insists that quality matters (remember this?), but the FDA is not taking him at his word. Once again, the agency has issued the drugmaker a warning letter and, this time, the subject is the Ebewe Pharma generic injectables business in Austria, which last year experienced production problems that led to shortages and at least one product ban. The warning letter is only the latest sent by the FDA to Novartis concerning manufacturing issues at different facilities. Over the past two years, the agency has found infractions at a Sandoz plant in Canada and two others in Colorado and North Carolina in the US (see here and here), and the drugmaker also failed repeated inspections at a Nebraska plant that has since scaled back production to a select number of products.

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38. Anonymous on June 7, 2013 6:48 AM writes...

Disappointing: they closed the neurodegeneration unit at Harlow, UK to pave the way for shanghai to open. along the way, Vallance/Slaoui 'promised' multiple times that they would not move any projects from Harlow to China. They did just that, then shut the Harlow site down shortly thereafter.

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39. Anonymous on June 7, 2013 7:33 AM writes...

There is sloppy science, sloppy reviewing, and then there is fraud. Before a rush to judgement, that needs to be sorted out. Also it isn't clear how this came to light, whether through internal reviews or not. GSK needs to make a public announcemet. Lot of information missing on this subject still.

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40. John Wayne on June 7, 2013 7:59 AM writes...

I was in a store buying an over-the-counter drug that has a generic the other day, and I considered buying the name brand due to the manufacturing issues that have been reported recently. In a fit of logic, I bought the generic because the two compounds are both probably made via an outsourcing model.

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41. Frank on June 7, 2013 8:04 AM writes...

Recently someone told me this rumour/scandal. So I google it, and find this website. When I read some comments here I couldn't help registering and giving my comments, even if this is a real scandal, not a rumour.

Some comments are making me so angry!

1, Racism

Anyone who link this case to Chinese culture/goverment, You are racist! no matter you agree or not.

From a single case, a case in an international company, you make a judgement to the whole Chinese population, 20% of human being. I can image 80-70 years ago, when someone was rich, and by chance he was a Jewish people, your guys would kill him! Following your logic, next time when u hear any gunshot in UAS universities, u would say those American are so violent!

Chinese government will be happy when GSK invests money in Shanghai site. This means more job chance. Why do you guys think the government are controlling everything? Why do you ask Chinese government to do something ? It is GSK'S duty to decide fire/hire anyone. BTW, more than 30% employee are foreigners, as far as I remember.

2, Science

Due to much pressure of promotion, tenure-gaining..., many scientist are playing tricks on publication, for eg,. using fancy methods; hiding negative data. This is the grey area between white and black, a global phenomenon, not only in China.

3, Made in China

Why the products from China are bad-quality? Please ask yourself how much you paid! You are against basic principle of economy about payment and quality. It's only about economy, not about culture/country. Given them enough money, they can return u good quality as well. Stop being fool!

Esp. that guy who don't eat meat. It's really good for you. From this science case, you can talk about Meat industry in your country and Chinese investment. You need to be smarter!

I would say, the business situation is the same of science, or those CRO companies. Don't expect too much when you don't want to pay the money!

I am not interested in giving lessons to someone. I only remember 2 sentences from my parents:

1, Learn to respect others so that you will be respected.

2, Don't care too much about the difference, becare we share much more as human being.

Let's wait for the invistigation and final conclusion of this case, not of the F*** culture/country.

A Former GSK Chinese employee

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42. Ex too on June 7, 2013 8:54 AM writes...

Given the ELNB system in place at GSK that allows access to any employees' records, down to actual data point, it is surprising that the managers of the PI did not noticed any unusual patterns prior to publication in Nature Medicine. Beyond this researcher behavior, this story raises questions about accountability at GSK in a broader sense.

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43. Lab Rat on June 7, 2013 10:09 AM writes...

What's happened to the nature article on this subject. Seems like it has been pulled.

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44. anonie on June 7, 2013 12:55 PM writes...

Well, a contact at GSK has said that there is an internal posting to staff confirming that there were errors in the manuscript, and that they intend to withdraw it. No specifics as to the nature of the problems identified.

Zhang has been placed on administrative leave, pending further evaluation of the situation.

Staff at GSK China were informed by e-mail.

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45. JRnonchemist on June 7, 2013 8:29 PM writes...

It is not racism to speculate about possible effects of governmental influence. Especially in the case of an extremely interventionist government which has its fingers in many pots.

Mao Zedong seems to be the greatest mass murderer in history and prehistory. The current government of the People's Republic of China seems to have great continuity with the one he created to serve and assist him. My major source is Chung, as I have said, and if you have read her, you can guess that I think this implies that the current government is not entirely honest.

Thought experiment time. Suppose that Zhang did do something actionable, and he knows he can get fired if it comes out? When he decides to do it, what does he expect the government to do as a result? If he and the government are crooked, he might expect the response to be a reward, or neutral, with a chance at a government controlled position.

Experiment number two. Zhang probably would have had his early education in the PRC, right? Suppose that the government is cooking the history textbooks. If this seeps into other areas of the curriculum, or otherwise becomes obvious, it can foster a certain contempt for the truth.

Item the third, American anti-communist expectations of how business in the PRC works suggest that government intervention may have been involved in Zhang being selected. If so, could he have pulled strings for that?

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46. Frank on June 8, 2013 3:11 AM writes...

I can't image your guys are thinking like this way. You are brainwashed as me, although we are all scientists. Since both of us are brain-washed, the best way to continue this talk is the scientific way: say/behavior anything with evidence/data, not your emotion!

The government is certainly involved this investment to establish this site....But, How can you suppose the government will influence on such
detail things? (Your evidence is Mao Zedong, and who/what else? ridiculous)

You suppose Zhang will rely on government's support? Your words here are wrong: If he and the government are crooked, he might expect the response to be a reward, or neutral, with a chance at a government controlled position.... Do you think he is that powerful?

There are so many honest and excellent Chinese scientist, or oversea Chinese. It's GSK's responsibility to choose whom.

The question now is why GSK chosed him. Zhang had a bad fame before being the head there (Much evidence can be found on internet, but most are in Chinese, because his market is there). He is good at bragging and advertisements, (he used to describe him as the TOP5 immunologist in the world; he cooked his CV too much. When there is any critisim, he changed the CV at once) and he know how to make GSK high-rank managers happy.

This is the key! This is the culture in GSK. They need good politicians, more than good scientists. (The shortcoming of good scientists are, they know little about how to leading such a large group, how to balance different departments...)

The GSK headquarter gives those people too much freedom and trust; (my personal feeling, not time to dig evidence)

As scientists, the basic way of thinking is to keep critic. I hope your guys can be critic to this point too: How much is the involvement of Chinese culture/government in this case?

Then, we can continue on the talk of Racism, from the all-agreed definition of racism, to check if your logic here fits the definition.

My last sentence is: Your understanding of China is in 1990, not in this century.

Nice weekend!

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47. Frank on June 8, 2013 3:49 AM writes...

To 29 ptm F*&^ You!

I hope your parents can give your lessons again, or your teachers in kindergarten should do.

Please remember, if you are playing joke on others, you will be played too.

If you say someone/some population is Evil, you are given this word now when I am typing on my laptop. I could give you more words for free, disgusting, stink, uncivilized, .....

This is the same reason why 6 Million Jew are killed, just because you think they are evil.
You are NAZI, although your grandparents fought deadly.

Sorry for my emotional words. To racism, I don't know how to be peaceful.

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48. Nobody on June 8, 2013 10:27 AM writes...

Derek: you are supposed to be a respectful scientist. But, this time, you don't deserve it. Your blog sometimes mislead the emotion.

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49. JRnonchemist on June 8, 2013 10:29 PM writes...

Like you say, I don't have first hand knowledge of the situation.

So it has been forty years, or maybe I'm twenty years out of date.

I have concerns about my own governments due to murders carried out nearly a hundred years ago.

If the current development push in PRC looks like a less incompetent 'Great Leap Forward', why /must/ I consider this to be impossible? If it is this generation's 'Great Leap Forward', than people in the government might value the creation of Potemkin villages.

If GSK hired Zhang for his skills in painting a pretty picture over things, this might be like hiring him to make GSK Shanghai a Potemkin village.

While hardly conclusive, I hope this shows why I consider government a matter worth discussing in this case.

Culture didn't strike me as all that relevant.

I understand race as referring solely to physical things inherited by blood. I see no value in trying to correlate this with anything in the realm of morality.

I still don't really know anything about GSK as an organization, despite some suggestive hearsay.

As for the actual incident, I'll be interested in seeing what comes of it. Was anything wrong actually done? Where does Zhang go from here? Is this a mountain or a molehill?

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50. Anonymous on June 9, 2013 2:41 AM writes...

Interesting question #49. The translation of those threads is pretty difficult to understand, but it sounds like there might be a clinical trial based upon the falsified research. If this I'd true, then it is very damaging indeed.

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51. Anonymous on June 9, 2013 8:43 AM writes...

Usually the people in pharmaceutic industry will publish some shit in order to mislead their competitors. If this case is related to clinic trial, it means something totally different!

I heard the bench scientists were in proper behavior, labelled the data as Healthy Human; and later in the publishing the data were changed into Patient's.

Certainly there would be some politic conspires in office, between Zang and his former employees, one fired group leader. So, some critic is true, some is only personal attack.

We can never find the overall truth, since GSK would fire those people ASAP to avoid more fame loss.

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52. anon2 on June 10, 2013 9:15 AM writes...

#51: Pharma companies may publish data on experimental compounds, demonstration studies with compounds that are not the preferred clinical candidate. This is to share information, get some credit in the scientific world. Studies with the clniical candidate(s) may be withheld for later publication(s) for obvious reasons related to competitive secrets. BUT the work done on experimental compounds is expected to be done with proper controls, careful conduct, honest labeling of figures, tables, data, etc. They do not publich "shit" in the sense of work done in a sloppy manner or a misrepresntation of labelling etc.

You are right that the full situation may not be fully shared with the public. Some people internal to GSK will try to learn the extent of the problem and take suitable actions. At the same time, strong messages, warnings, instructions will/should be given to employees who still work at the company's organization. Zhang will proabaly be kept on as a paid member of staff until they sort out the legal aspects of his dismissal, and also to ascertain if any legal actions should be taken against him. But for those few staff members may have been involved in the problem must be removed from their presence within the facilities to avoid creating a larger contagion through the ranks of the staff and the organization. That is how buisinesses must function to proctect themselves in the management & control in such situations.

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53. petros on June 10, 2013 2:16 PM writes...

Now the VP has been fired and three others suspended

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54. anon on June 10, 2013 6:08 PM writes...

There was a Phase 1 study recently initiated that has now been put on hold in order to evaluate if any other data may be tainted or not.

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55. Anonymous on June 10, 2013 7:45 PM writes...

OMG - you mean people have been exposed to an investigational agent on the basis of this fraud?? GSK better start putting aside money to pay out claims.

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56. Frank on June 15, 2013 1:39 PM writes...

How about those bench scientists?

As far as I heard, they wrote their lab notebook in correct way, Healthy Human Samples, and the data...

It is not fair to fire them as well.

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57. someone on June 16, 2013 11:43 AM writes...

Whenever there is a chance, no matter how remote and intrinsically irrelevant that is, Derek would instantly transform himself and a batch of followers into China haters and racists. How disappointing and pathetic...

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58. GSKZombie on June 18, 2013 10:40 PM writes...

Of course 'bench scientists' are also at fault.

Didn't anyone who actually collect the data or analyze the data actually READ THE FINAL PUBLICATION?

How could they not know there was a drastic mix-up (whether intended or not) once they read the final article?

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