Lawsuit filed in Duke cancer case

A university at the centre of a medical research scandal is being sued by two cancer patients and the families of six deceased patients.

September 12, 2011

Duke University and a number of its employees are being sued following allegations that Duke oncologist Anil Potti posed as a Rhodes Scholar and used flawed data in research on how cancer responds to treatment.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of fraudulent and negligent behaviour for enrolling cancer patients in trials based partly on Dr Potti’s research, Nature has reported.

The research examined how an individual’s genetic make-up could be used to indicate an optimal therapy and was used to set up trials.

However, several papers by Dr Potti have since been retracted, the trials suspended and an investigation into flaws in the data is ongoing.

According to Nature, the lawsuit filed in North Carolina alleges that patients enrolled in the trials as a result of misrepresentations by Dr Potti did not give proper informed consent, were subjected to unnecessary biopsies and were allocated treatments they would not otherwise have received.

Duke has claimed that all the treatments received by patients were standard.

The university declined to comment on the litigation.

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