Three of “The Lancet” studies writers retreat

Three of the four authors of the study published on May 22 in the British scientific journal “TheLancet” on the use of hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19 have withdrawn, citing doubts about the data used. The newspaper withdraws the article.

“We can no longer guarantee the truth of the sources of primary data,” the three authors write Lancet. The three researchers, who contributed to the development of this controversial study, eventually withdrew their signature from the article, June 4, and questioned the company’s Surgisphere’s refusal to grant them access to the database.

The study was published on May 22 in the famous British medical journal and concluded that hydroxychloroquine was of no use to Covid-19 patients in hospitals and may even be harmful. The publication had a worldwide impact and in particular pushed the WHO to suspend its clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine.

But critics were quick to come, from the defender of the molecule – such as the French scientist and infectologist Didier Raoult, who described the study as “messy” – as skeptical researchers about the drug’s interest in treating patients with Covid-19. On Wednesday, the WHO finally announced the resumption of clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine.

Doubts on the reliability of the data

The main criticism concerns the reliability of data from this study (96,000 patients from 671 hospitals) collected by Surgisphere, a health data analysis company led by Sapan Desai, the fourth author of the article. The authors then responded by announcing an “independent” review of their results and the origin of the information. But three of them, including the most important, Mandeep Mehra, finally threw in the towel.

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Surgisphere has refused to communicate the information and invoked confidentiality agreements with its customers. The study’s authors were, in fact, “unable to conduct an independent review and informed us of their withdrawal from the peer review process,” they wrote in the text published on Thursday by The Lancet, presenting “their deepest apology.”

In its press release, The Lancet, which ensures that it takes “issues of scientific integrity very seriously,” considers it “urgent” to evaluate other collaborations with Surgisphere.

Questions still awaiting Surgisphere

“There are still unanswered questions about Surgisphere and the data that are likely to be included in this study,” insists the review, which had already published a warning in the form of an “expression of concern” on Tuesday night. [“exprimant sa préoccupation”].

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), which had published a study by the same team conducted with Surgisphere data on the link between Covid-19 mortality and heart disease, also announced the recall of this work on Thursday.

Dr. Desai, who initially defended the “integrity” of his data, for his part rejected all comments Thursday.

With AFP