Australian scientist admits fabricating research data

Young woman researcher analyses samples in a biochemistry laboratory. Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption The fabricated results related to well-known blood pressure drug ramipril

A high-profile Australian scientist has admitted fabricating data in a major trial of a blood pressure drug.

Two international journal articles about the three-year clinical trial into ramipril have since been retracted.

Melbourne's prestigious Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute said the researcher had resigned over the issue.

The data, first published in 2013, found the drug helped sufferers of a common vascular disease walk pain free.

The Institute said it was also examining other studies for which the researcher, Dr Anna Ahimastos, "had oversight of data collection and integrity".

The Institute's Professor Bronwyn Kingwell, who oversaw the retraction of the articles, said anomalies in the trial were identified internally, sparking an investigation in June, this year.

"Dr Ahimastos admitted to fabricating records for some patients," she said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

'Isolated incident'

In a statement, Prof. Kingwell said "At no point were participants in the trial exposed to risk or harm".

"This was an isolated incident confined to the actions of one researcher," she said.

"The Institute takes such matters very seriously and every effort has been made to correct the record with all affected parties as quickly as possible in-keeping with our obligations and our commitment to being a centre of research excellence."

Ramipril is generally used to treat high blood pressure or congestive heart failure.

The Melbourne trial was looking at whether it could help people with peripheral artery disease to walk free of pain.

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