(p. A7) Two major studies casting doubt on the ability of antimalaria drugs to treat Covid-19 patients based on data from a little-known Chicago company, Surgisphere Corp., were retracted Thursday [June 4, 2020].
The Lancet first pulled a study published late last month that found antimalarials provided no benefit as a treatment for Covid-19 infections while increasing the risk of heart problems and death. The New England Journal of Medicine then retracted a separate article, published in early May, that examined the impact of cardiovascular and blood-pressure drugs in Covid-19 patients.
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Three of the Lancet paper’s authors said they decided to retract the paper after Surgisphere refused to share the full data set as part of a review triggered by concerns raised by outside researchers. The Lancet published a correction to the study on May 29.
“We always aspire to perform our research in accordance with the highest ethical and professional guidelines,” the authors, Drs. Mehra, Patel and Frank Ruschitzka said in a statement. “We can never forget the responsibility we have as researchers to scrupulously ensure that we rely on data sources that adhere to our high standards. Based on this development, we can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”
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Following the study, the World Health Organization paused enrolling patients in clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine, although this week the organization said it resumed the trials.
In the days following publication of the study, however, other researchers began to raise questions about the Surgisphere data, first on social media and in emails, then in an open letter to The Lancet and the study’s authors. More than 100 researchers signed on to the letter.
For the full story, see:
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added. In the passages quoted above, where the online version differs from the print version, the quoted passages follow the online version.)
(Note: the online version of the story was updated June 5, 2020, and has the title “Hydroxychloroquine Studies Tied to Data Firm Surgisphere Retracted.”)