Letter: Cancer study not retracted

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The Independent Online
Sir: Rosy Daniel is probably right to say there is no longer a battle to be fought about acceptance of the place of complementary therapies in medical care (letter, 17 November). But the saga of the Institute of Cancer Research's study of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre shows that a battle is still needed to

get some research institutions to take scientific misconduct seriously.

Contrary to Dr Daniel's assertion, the original study, though hopelessly flawed, has never been retracted either by its authors or by ICR. Requests by some of the study patients for ICR to set up an inquiry, as recommended in Royal College of Physicians guidelines, have been turned down on the grounds that they have not produced conclusive evidence of scientific misconduct. Yet all the evidence of misconduct, if it occurred, is held by ICR itself, in the original study records to which the study patients have no right of access.

Ironically, ICR was reported recently to be considering suing the authors of a government report that was critical of its research standards. How can an institute think so highly of itself when it refuses to investigate such an improperly conducted study carried out by its own workers? The failure of ICR to investigate the episode and to ensure formal retraction of the original paper is a continuing stain on the integrity of British medical research.

Yours sincerely,

R. H. NICHOLSON

Editor

Bulletin of Medical Ethics

London, N5

17 November

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