In what could be one of the largest ever cases of medical-research fraud, a prominent anaesthesiologist has been accused of fabricating data in at least 21 papers over 13 years.

Scott Reuben fabricated all or some of the data in studies as far back as 1996, according to an internal investigation by Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he worked. Journals such as Anesthesiology and Anesthesia and Analgesia have already retracted Reuben's papers, which supported combining painkillers called COX-2 inhibitors (such as Merck's Vioxx and Pfizer's Celebrex) with other analgesics, including Pfizer's Lyrica, to relieve pain after surgery.

An attorney representing Reuben said that the Baystate investigation was confidential, that there were extenuating circumstances and that Reuben deeply regrets all that has happened. Reuben is barred from research at Baystate for at least a decade.