Dr. William K. Summers, the Alzheimer's disease researcher embroiled in a protracted wrangle with federal officials over his work with the experimental drug THA, has received a partial vindication from a UCLA faculty committee that reviewed his work.
While the five-member committee found severe shortcomings in the design, execution and reporting of Summers' controversial study, the group found that those limitations did not undermine the conclusion that the drug had helped some of the patients studied. The group also found no evidence of any intention to mislead.
"The committee saw enough data to be convinced that this study was (actually) done, with some slippage 'twixt intention and execution," said Dr. Daniel X. Freedman, executive vice chairman of the department of psychiatry. "And it was not manufactured."
Summers' surprising finding that THA had dramatically improved the memory and living skills of a small number of patients prompted widespread public interest in the unproven treatment after his November, 1986, report in the New England Journal of Medicine.