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On Second Thought: Falsified results for a promising trial

associated press

Acalabrutinib is an experimental anti-cancer drug.

By Adam Marcus Retraction Watch 

In August, the FDA granted priority review to an experimental drug to treat a form of blood cancer called mantle cell lymphoma. The compound, acalabrutinib, performed well in its early trials — well enough that AstraZeneca paid $4 billion in 2016 for a majority stake in Acerta, which makes the therapy. But in an unusual step, Acerta this month admitted that at least one of those early studies — not in humans — contained faked data. According to the company, a researcher for the drug maker falsified results in a 2015 abstract, published in Cancer Research, on the use of acalabrutinib to treat pancreatic cancer. Acerta, which has parted ways with the employee, insists the fraud does not undermine the potential or safety of its product. And the journal has retracted the tainted study, which had been presented at a big cancer meeting. Meanwhile, trials of the drug continue.