NewsChannel 15 has learned Dr. Anil Potti, who is accused of manipulating data in cancer research while he worked at Duke University, is no longer employed at Coastal Cancer Center in Myrtle Beach.
His data showed a link between a cancer patient's DNA and the most effective method of treatment. But reports given by Duke University and the CBS News magazine show 60 Minutes say Dr. Potti manipulated data to match his theory.
A representative for Coastal Cancer Center told NewsChannel 15 they would have no further comment, beyond the following press release:
COASTAL CANCER CENTER OF MYRTLE BEACH ENDS RELATIONSHIP WITH DR. ANIL POTTI
Letters Of Recommendation From Duke Were Key Factors In Original Hiring Decision
February 21, 2012, Myrtle Beach, S.C. - Dr. Anil Potti, MD is no longer associated with Coastal Cancer Center of Myrtle Beach, S.C. Dr. Potti, who saw patients primarily at Coastal Cancer Center's Loris, S.C. and Brunswick County, N.C. facilities, served his final day on Feb. 21st. Potti originally joined Coastal Cancer Center as an oncologist in March 2011.
"A recent 60 Minutes story concerning an investigation of Duke University's cancer research programs and Dr. Potti's work there prompted many concerned people to contact Coastal Cancer Center with comments and questions," said Lawrence B. Holt, Jr., MD, FACP, President of Coastal Cancer Center. "It has become obvious that this issue is going to take precious focus away from patient care. Coastal Cancer Center is staffed by incredibly caring people who want and need to concentrate on providing outstanding patient care."
Coastal Cancer Center conducted a deep and thorough investigation of Potti's credentials before hiring him. Potti received numerous letters of strong recommendation from key members of the medical community at Duke University where Potti had worked before coming to the Grand Strand.
"We received glowing references about Dr. Potti's character and skills from the highest ranks of the Duke University School of Medicine and Duke University Medical Center," said Holt. "We were assured by Duke Medical's leaders that Anil was 'outstanding in all categories,' 'had excellent clinical skills' and that he had conducted himself at Duke with 'honesty, integrity and humility.' One Duke University director even went so far as to say he would be pleased to have Dr. Potti as the treating physician 'if my own family had unfortunately contracted a cancer.' Letters of recommendation came in from the chief of Duke Medical's Division of Medical Oncology, the Chair of the Department of Medicine, the Director of Hematologic Malignancies Program, and several professors. Note: on 2/28/2012, Coastal Cancer Center amended their news release to reflect that a letter was not received from Duke's Chair of the Department of Medicine, but rather "Letters of recommendation came in from the chief of Duke Medical's Division of Medical Oncology, the Director of Hematologic Malignancies Program, and several professors."
"During the time that Dr. Potti has been with us," continued Holt, "he has been an exemplary physician whose caring ways have made him extremely popular with patients. We will miss him."
During his time on staff at Coastal Cancer Center, Dr. Potti became an active part of the Grand Strand medical community, many of whom have reached out to him in the days since the 60 Minutes story aired.
"We have been touched and heartened by the outpouring of support for Anil that has come from the local medical community," says Holt. "Like those of us at the Cancer Center, other physicians recognize him as an exceptional doctor and colleague."
Dr. Holt and other Coastal Cancer Center physicians will personally assume the care of Dr. Potti's patients.