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The Press Release Crime of Biotech CEO; Impact on Scientific Research

Washington Post; September 23, 2013

Is it a crime for a medical researcher to hype his results? To put a heavy spin on the findings when there are millions of dollars, and possibly lives, at stake?

Just ask W. Scott Harkonen.

“I get four hours for errands, once a week. With good behavior, that could go up to six hours,” the 61-year-old physician said recently. “I feel part of an interned population.”

Once the well-paid head of a publicly traded biotech company called InterMune, Harkonen began six months of home confinement July 1. Several times a day he gets a robo-call that checks to make sure he’s inside. His status is an embarrassment, and few people come to visit.

Of course, things could be worse. A federal prosecutor wanted him to get 10 years in prison. Instead, he got a half-year of home detention in his three-story Tudor in San Francisco. But unless his appeals are successful, he won’t ever be able to work as a pharmaceutical researcher and maybe not as a physician, either.

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