Another retraction for Pfizer’s experimental cancer treatment figitumumab
Last month, we brought you news that Pfizer had retracted a paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology
purporting to show a benefit of their experimental drug for lung cancer figitumumab after discovering that its clinical lead on the project had done analyses improperly.
There’s been another retraction, of a related paper, in the British Journal of Cancer, “Pre-treatment levels of circulating free IGF-1 identify NSCLC patients who derive clinical benefit from figitumumab.” Here’s the notice:
After a thorough review, the corresponding author, Dr Antonio Gualberto, has concluded that the key results reported in this manuscript are incorrect and cannot be reproduced. As there are no remaining samples that would allow a new analysis, he has therefore recommended the retraction of the manuscript to the Editor-in-Chief of BJC.
The co-authors have been informed of this decision.
Dr Gualberto sincerely apologises for any inconvenience this may have caused the readers of the BJC.
The paper has been cited 27 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
Pfizer, which is no longer developing the drug following two failed Phase 3 trials, tells Retraction Watch that the retraction followed a company investigation:
As you know based on our discussion in early November, Pfizer became aware that final data from a Phase 2 study of figitumumab, known as the 1002 study, and certain biomarker analyses performed in connection with the figitumumab program differed from the results that had been reported previously to regulators and published in medical journals.
We conducted a proactive, thorough and comprehensive review to determine how this may have occurred, and enlisted the services of independent experts to assist with this review. Based on our review, we believe that the publication of results from the inaccurate biomarker analysis was primarily due to the actions of the former Pfizer clinician, who operated outside our approved systems for data management and publication.
We self identified, analyzed and reported these errors on our own and, at the British Journal of Cancer’s request, the lead author submitted the retraction. It’s important to note that the BJC retraction relates to the same study referred to in the JCO but involved biomarker analyses mentioned above.
Corporate integrity is an absolute priority for Pfizer, and we will continue to take appropriate actions to strengthen public trust in our company.
Gualberto left Pfizer in September 2010, and is now at Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company. He did not respond to a request for comment.