FDA cites 'corrupt' CRO for widespread falsification

Any drug developers which relied on Cetero Research for early-stage research or bioanalytics may have a real problem on their hands. The FDA says that two inspections of its Houston lab in 2010 revealed a "pattern of misconduct" that raised serious questions about the research work the CRO carried out between April 2005 and June 2010. And some developers may be required to pay for a do-over in order to keep the FDA's seal of approval.

Regulators going over the books found 1,900 instances over a 5-year period in which the lab technicians cited for doing research work weren't even in the facility. That led the FDA to conclude that Cetero may have fixed its work, punting any data it didn't like and ensuring it delivered desired results. And even though the agency says it's unlikely there are any safety issues, sponsors with approved products or pending applications are being asked for confirmation of their results or a repeat of the work.

That could affect a long lineup of companies. On its website, Cetero boasts that it completes 750 studies a year, with on-time startups 99% of the time.

The FDA concurred with Cetero's independent auditor, who stated: "This misconduct appears to be significant enough to cast doubt on the data generated...If the foundation of the laboratory is corrupt, then the data generated will be also." 

"FDA has reached this conclusion for three reasons: (1) the widespread falsification of dates and times in laboratory records for subject sample extractions, (2) the apparent manipulation of equilibration or 'prep' run samples to meet pre-determined acceptance criteria, and (3) lack of documentation regarding 'prep' runs that prevented you from conducting an adequate internal investigation to determine the extent and impact of these violations."

- see the release from the FDA
- here's the Reuters story