Co Down doctor facing jail for falsifying test results

PACEMAKER BELFAST   26/05/2016
Co Down GP Hugh McGoldrick at Court in Downpatrick as he is to be sentenced  on charges of fraudulently conducting clinical trials on patients.

Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 26/05/2016 Co Down GP Hugh McGoldrick at Court in Downpatrick as he is to be sentenced on charges of fraudulently conducting clinical trials on patients. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

A Co Down doctor who falsified clinical test results could face a sentence of up to two years in the first prosecution of its kind.

Dr Hugh McGoldrick, who has since retired, was on bail, but on Thursday Judge Piers Grant remanded him into custody to await his sentencing next Friday.

In April the 59-year old, from Crossgar Road East in Crossgar, admitted two charges, that on dates between November 2007 and June 2008 he “conducted a clinical trial relating to the efficacy and safety of 2mg per day of M100907 on Sleep Maintenance Insomnia’’ in breach of the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004.

His defence QC Frank O’Donoghue told Downpatrick Crown Court the GP with, over 30 years in his Pound Lane practice, had behaved “out of character” during the clinical trial, just one of 24 he had undertaken over a four year period.

However, Mr O’Donoghue emphasised that Dr McGoldrick had not undertaken the clinical trial, worth over £20,000 upon completion, for financial gain.

The lawyer added that outstanding monies, of around £9,200, he received, had now been lodged with his legal team for repayment.

He also submitted, had he made early admissions about the irregularities, the former GP may have avoided criminal proceedings “and the total erosion of reputation that has gone with this.”

“He has lost his career, he has lost his reputation, he has had to deal with the publicity and the speculation of the community about the extent of his wrongdoing,” said Mr O’Donoghue.

When directly asked by Judge Grant if McGoldrick had made up the submitted phone-line results, Mr O’Donoghue said; “That is right, that is what he had pleaded to and has accepted.”

The court had heard details of how he recruited ten, mostly elderly, patients for the study, which involved over 1800 people worldwide.

However, prosecution QC David McDowell said that if his patients had gone through the correct screening process, then “all ten patients were probably ineligible”.

This would have been for a number of reasons, either because they were over-weight, suffering from pre-existing medical conditions, or in some case, already taking medications which would have interfered with their natural sleep patterns.

The court was told Dr McGoldrick had submitted the patient sleep records on their behalf, claiming this was because some were elderly and unwilling, or reluctant to use the dedicated phone system.