Cancer study participants sue researcher

SSKRP ATTORNEYS IN THE NEWS

Cancer study participants sue researcher

By Edward T. Pound

USA TODAY

WASHINGTON -- Claiming fraud and negligence, former participants in a cancer study have sued the principal researcher and others affiliated with the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.

The university halted the study last March after an outside firm said the research had endangered the safety of patients.

The complaint, filed in a federal court in Tulsa on Tuesday, alleged that researchers had injected vaccine into patients before ''appropriate testing for safety and quality.'' It also alleged that they had made ''numerous fraudulent representations'' to federal health officials about how the trial would be conducted. The study involved testing a vaccine on patients with melanoma, a deadly skin cancer.

Federal health officials concluded last year that the principal researcher, Michael McGee, had repeatedly violated federal regulations meant to protect patients.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six people who participated as subjects in the trial and the families of two other participants who are dead. No evidence has emerged that anyone died from the vaccine.

Other defendants include David Boren, university president, and St. John Medical Center.

Through his lawyers, McGee had no comment yesterday. The university also declined to comment.

Alan Milstein, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, alleged that his clients were denied their ''constitutional right to be treated with dignity.'' He relied heavily on the work of Cherlynn Mathias, the study coordinator, who complained about the research project to federal regulators last year. She said researchers repeatedly broke federal health rules, injected a potentially dangerous vaccine into patients, overstated possible benefits and sought to cover up problems.