A three-month prison sentence has been handed down to a UK researcher convicted of faking his results, Retraction Watch reports. Steven Eaton, the BBC adds, would be the first person to be jailed under a 1999 UK scientific safety law.
"I feel that my sentencing powers in this are wholly inadequate. You failed to test the drugs properly — you could have caused cancer patients unquestionable harm," Edinburgh Sheriff Michael O'Grady said, according to the BBC.
Eaton worked for the US-based Aptuit at its Riccarton, Scotland, branch (which has since closed) where he focused on anti-cancer drugs, but in 2009 his bosses noticed something amiss with his results and he was dismissed. They also reported him to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which investigated the case, the BBC adds, and found that Eaton had been selectively reporting results since 2003.
Aptuit notes in a statement that Eaton hasn't been associated with them for more than four years. "At the close of this investigation two years ago, Aptuit received a letter from the MHRA stating that the matter was concluded," the company says, "and that '…the investigation by the MHRA and GLPMA has found no evidence to suggest that the data integrity issues were caused as a result of actions taken by the company. The data integrity issues appear to have been caused by the independent actions of individual employees.'"
Retraction Watch notes that only a handful of researchers have been jailed for scientific misconduct. "Scott Reuben was sentenced to six months' prison for health care fraud and Eric Poehlman got a year and a day for faking a grant application. Luk Van Parijs was given six months of home detention and 400 hours of community service for fraud in papers," lists Adam Marcus at Retraction Watch.