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Three authors retract study on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine (thelancet.com)
296 points by marvin 66 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 172 comments



A lot of the controversy surrounding this Lancet paper was about the data being used, which was provided by a firm named Surgisphere [1]. One of the co-authors of the Lancet paper is Sapan Desai, he is incidentally also the chief executive of this firm.

The lone one who chose not to retract the paper was him.

I recommend this twitter thread that explains the thrust of the issue: https://twitter.com/reverendofdoubt/status/12669029690454630...

Essentially, doubt began swirling around when this company claimed to acquire in a very short time massive amounts of EHR (Electronic Health Record, basically large datasets showing how patients are doing, how they're responding to medication, etc.). When Sapan Desai was pressed on by the other three authors of this very paper, he refused to cooperate, invoking a somewhat shoddy defense of not being at liberty to reveal sensitive information. Surgisphere refuses to say which hospitals chose to give it the EHR.

The thing is, this EHR data is a big deal. Pharma companies give _big_ money to hospitals for this data. One of the key questions has been how this newcomer company managed to acquire these EHR deals with such a large number of hospitals. Since the scrutiny, NEJM has also chosen to retract a Covid-19-related paper which sourced data from this company: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2007621

[1]: The company is choosing to stand behind the data: https://surgisphere.com/2020/05/29/response-to-widespread-re...


It feels like a large part of the value of a journal like the Lancet is that they DON'T do stuff like this. That one of the authors is ceo of the company that owns the data behind the study should be a glaring red flag. What value does the Lancet still have?

Note - I edited this post because it was much more crass and reactionary, and realized its not at all my domain, so I rephrased.


The value is that even given this, they're much more reliable than preprints, and much much more reliable than sensational Twitter threads or public forums. They manage to filter out a tremendous amount of crap, but a sufficiently crafty and dishonest author can still sometimes slip past -- as is possible in any system.


Sure, but lots of high profile papers in top end journals like Nature fail to replicate: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/8/27/17761466/ps...

If we are to learn anything from the last 10 years of the replication crisis, it has to be that a single paper is a data point, not a conclusion.


Scientists, especially in biology (possibly psychology too but i don't know), do look at papers as data points and not conclusions. The "conclusion-minded" treatment of papers is a sad artefact of the publish-or-perish system (have to add a ton of spin to your results to make them publishable) and of pop science journalism.


This is neither new nor surprising.

There is a whole field of science dedicated to the statistical analysis of multiple studies in prior literature, e.g. just search for _Meta-analysis_ in the context of medical research.

A state-of-the-art Meta-Analysis is indeed the strongest level of scientific evidence you can have to advise a healthcare decisions or guidelines.

The only purpose of these journals with what they call a high 'impact factor', is that they typically have their peer reviews performed by people who are regarded as the _best_ in the their particular field. Nevertheless, to assume that an expert cannot be conned is also naive.

edit: typo


>If we are to learn anything from the last 10 years of the replication crisis, it has to be that a single paper is a data point, not a conclusion.

I highly recommend this elaboration upon that idea: https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/12/beware-the-man-of-one-...


A large part of the value of a journal like the Lancet is that when stuff like this does happen, people notice and corrections get made.


And in all the cases in which this doesn’t happen, either because the editors/referees notice it or because the aspiring fraudsters don’t even try, because they don’t think that they could slip through.


They did publish a paper the numbers within which were not reviewed by anyone. I, along with others, have been under the impression that such things are indeed double checked by other scientists reviewing papers. Turns out they are not.


I'm not saying this isn't a black mark on a prestigious journal, or that someone isn't getting chewed out by their boss for failing to catch this problem in pre-publication reviews, but ... mistakes are always going to happen.

As much as we all eagerly drool over and discuss the latest publications -- on this very website! -- in everything from astrophysics to medicine, something being in published in a prestigious journal is not the gold stamp that it is true.

It's just the middle of the process; the reviewers thought it was interesting enough -- and not fraudulent! -- to share with the scientific community at large, and now everyone will examine it, poke holes in it, or try to build on it.

A lot of things are published in journals that end up being wrong. Most of the time it's not fraud, it's just some combination of math errors, experimental errors, and statistical flukes.

And back to the original point: you can find dozens, hundreds of articles published five, ten, twenty years ago that say all sorts of amazing and outlandish things, published in sufficiently minor journals that they didn't receive sufficient attention or follow-up work. Don't take them as gospel just because they got published: you need to study the entire body of scientific research on a subject to understand what the consensus is on what's probably true, what's probably not, and what's in the nebulous zone of unknown.


As far as I've read, Surgisphere claimed to have a study based on deaths in Australia using paid for data from Australian hospitals. But the data was citing a death figure that was corrected weeks after the apparent 'study', which looked really suspect.

When contacted not a single hospital in Australia knew of Surgisphere or the study, and none of them had any commercial relationship with Surgisphere.


>When contacted not a single hospital in Australia knew of Surgisphere or the study, and none of them had any commercial relationship with Surgisphere.

To be fair, I wouldn't expect any individual hospital (or individual at the hospital) to be aware of this. Australia has public healthcare and therefore data is stored centrally. There's likely a government department dedicated to data and they would likely be the ones to provide the data, not someone at the hospital.


No, it's not centrally collected. There is a national eHealth system, MyHealthRecord, but it's opt in for patients, supplementary to your provider's records, and various pieces of privacy legislation at the state and national level make handing out this data, at best, legally fraught.

Speaking from experience. Getting data out of a hospital is phenomenally hard even when the hospital is wants to provide it. Patient confidentiality is a thing they all take very seriously.


Someone at the hospital in US would certainly be aware of it for two reasons:

1) It takes a significant amount of work to format and standardize this data

2) Sharing this data is a business model for hospitals, it's a means of income for hospitals in this day and age. It's not unheard of that a pharma company will pay up double-digit million dollars for this data. It is thus unlikely that top brass for a hospital network is ignorant of the nature of this data and with whom it is being shared.


> NEJM has also chosen to retract a Covid-19-related paper

For the NEJM paper, as for the Lancet paper, the retraction is coming from the authors (including Desai in the NEJM case): https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2021225


Because they got caught with their hands in the Data Laundering Cookie Jar.


Of course. But it was “voluntary”, not done by the journals (and it would probably have taken longer in that case).


How about thanking or crediting the many independent doctors and scientists (https://zenodo.org/record/3873178) who identified the issues in Lancet's publication? Even Apple credits/pays independent researchers for finding weaknesses in Apple code.

Will countries now revert national health policy changes that were based on this questionable study? What about the families of patients who were denied early HCQ treatment based on this study? Who is liable for their denial of treatment?

James Todaro, May 29th, https://www.medicineuncensored.com/a-study-out-of-thin-air

> Misinformation is bad. Misinformation in medicine is worse. Misinformation from a prestigious medical journal is the worst. Herein is a detailed look at the controversial Lancet study that resulted in the World Health Organization ending worldwide clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine in order to focus on patented therapeutics.

Guardian, June 3rd, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/03/covid-19-surgi...

> The very serious concerns being raised about the validity of the papers by Mehra et al need to be recognised and actioned urgently, and ought to bring about serious reflection on whether the quality of editorial and peer review during the pandemic has been adequate. Scientific publication must above all be rigorous and honest. In an emergency, these values are needed more than ever.

James Todaro helped to bring this questionable study to light—his website (https://www.medicineuncensored.com/) and compilation of HCQ studies (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1O6Cls-Oz2ZAgJuyDbnICEGjM...) may be of interest.


The WHO already restarted studies involving hydroxychloroquine.

>> Who is liable for their denial of treatment?

Doctors base their treatments on the best information they have at hand. In many cases, that information turns out to be faulty.

This retraction does not mean the HCQ works against COVID-19, only that this particular study is no proof that it does not work.


Hydroxychloroquine does not repair damaged cells, but it does stop the virus from replicating (especially when used with Zinc)

There are five scientific studies demonstrating this for outpatient use.

https://academic.oup.com/aje/advance-article/doi/10.1093/aje...


Since this is being repeated multiple times, quoting benmaraschino:

One of these "studies" is a 2-page Google Doc with no real data. Another is the discredited Raoult study, which is under investigation by the journal [1]. Another study cited is also by Raoult's team. The Brazil study (ref. 29) doesn't seem to have passed peer review (yet?) and has severe methodological flaws. Like the Raoult studies, the Brazil study was not randomized, but makes no attempt to control for confounding by indication or self-selection, such as with propensity score matching or similar methods commonly used in observational studies. The last study cited isn't a study, but an article from a local news station.


I believe Hydroxychroloquine is used as a prophylaxis in India and possibly other countries. Have there been any studies on that?

The death toll (CFR) in India is suspiciously lower than in the European states. Could it be because they're using Hydroxychroloquine more freely [0]? Though, that hasn't been without controversy [1].

[0] https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-india-hydroxychloroqu...

[1] https://science.thewire.in/health/covid-19-indian-council-of...


I came across this:

>According to the ICMR study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR), consumption of four or more maintenance doses was associated with a significant decline (>80%) in the risk of Covid-19 infection among the ‘participants’. The study also found that there was no significant association between HCQ and adverse drug reactions.

https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/pharma/why-...

Link to the preliminary paper http://www.ijmr.org.in/preprintarticle.asp?id=285520


> The death toll (CFR) in India is suspiciously lower than in the European states

There are too many other, far more plausible, reasons why the death toll in India looks lower:

* Population pyramid - far fewer people aged 70+ as a percentage of the population means a far lower CFR

* Hotter weather which slows the spread of coronaviruses massively

* More sunlight means less vitamin-D deficiency (which seems to worsen infections)

* Low amount of travel to/from initial seeding spots means closing borders was effective (Wuhan, northern Italy, Alps)

And that is without casting any aspersions about causes of death being attributed correctly.


Come back, zinc!


We haven't gone from "BLOCK" to "ALLOW". Instead, we're back to "DUNNO".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phases_of_clinical_research


So "dunno" is not a good enough reason to allow use of potentially damaging drugs. So we're still at "block".


I personally do not like drugs, but as far drugs goes Hydroxychloroquine is quite safe.

Hydroxychloroquine has been used since 1958 by millions of people. It is relatively safely (as much as any drug is safe) used for Malaria, Lupus and Arthritis. Some Lupus users have used it for decades.

The CDC on their web site state it is safe for young, old and pregnant.

https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/resources/pdf/fsp/drugs/hydroxyc...


First that page shows a maximum daily dosage of 400mg/7 (weekly dosage) in adults. What's being used in covid patients is 800mg/day for the first day [1].

Can you point to any studies that shows the safety of hydroxycholorquine in people with respiratory distress or infection?

Can you show any studies that hyrdoxychlorquine is safe when the blood oxygen level drops below certain level often seen in covid patients?

Can I point you to here which shows all the potentially dangerous side effects of hydroxychloroquine?

[1] https://www.pdr.net/drug-summary/Plaquenil-hydroxychloroquin...

Interesting aspect is the following:

> Hydroxychloroquine prolongs the QT interval. Use hydroxychloroquine with caution in patients with conditions that may increase the risk of QT prolongation including congenital long QT syndrome, bradycardia, AV block, heart failure, stress-related cardiomyopathy, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypomagnesemia, hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, or in patients receiving medications known to prolong the QT interval or cause electrolyte imbalances. Females, geriatric patients, patients with sleep deprivation, pheochromocytoma, sickle cell disease, hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, hypothermia, systemic inflammation (e.g., human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, fever, and some autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and celiac disease) and patients undergoing apheresis procedures (e.g., plasmapheresis [plasma exchange], cytapheresis) may also be at increased risk for QT prolongation.


Covid has been know to cause ill health too. Rather than ban anything with any risk a calculated judgement might be better.


It's safe for people with those conditions, we don't know if it's safe for people in respiratory distress.

Take thalidomide for example. Great drug for treating nausea, but not great when that person is also pregnant. By not studying it in this group, it resulted in many people born with birth defects.


Pretty much. Evidence-based medicine doesn't take its cues from Cave Johnson and just spitball stuff when people's lives are at stake. Plenty of promising drugs have horrible side effects, and it takes a lot of careful work to make sure they can be used safely to treat people. Thalidomide would be an excellent example of such a drug, which can cause excessive clotting and severe birth defects but also treats leprosy and certain cancers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide


So "dunno" is a good enough reason to allow people to suffer from potentially damaging COVID-19? There is a tradeoff whenever you default to "block", especially when there are no other good treatments. You are preventing people from searching the solution space.


No one’s preventing properly designed and carefully run clinical trialS of COVID-19 treatments using HCQ. What doctors shouldn’t do is administer potentially life threatening drugs to sick patients based on rumor and speculation without any consideration. Such doctors are basically running badly designed, unsanctioned, unsafe experiments on people who’s ability to consent to the experimentation is compromised in any one of a number of ways, like being sedated and on a ventilator. Institutional review boards exist for a reason.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institutional_review_board


A treatment needs to be safe and effective. So far the studies are unclear about the effectiveness, and also unclear about the safety. The retraction of one study doesn't mean it becomes safe or effective overnight.

And despite what people are saying, there are some nasty side effects for people with cardiovascular issues.

It's worth noting that infants have died with accidental exposure.

https://www.pdr.net/drug-summary/Plaquenil-hydroxychloroquin...


The university of Minnesota has a clinical trial out showing no early benefit of HCQ treatment.


The Minnesota study shows that hydroxychloroquine does not prevent covid19 infection when taken after exposure.

This is a useful result, but it's not what we've really been wondering. The question of whether HCQ, possibly in combination with antibiotics or zinc and administered early in the infection, reduces the likelihood of getting a serious case.

The Minnesota study has some methodological issues, as well as not enough patients, that made it impossible to draw conclusions about this.

Hopefully, future RCT studies will illuminate this as well. Unless the Lancet paper has poisoned the source of candidates for the study enough that it will be impossible to recruit patients.


> The university of Minnesota has a clinical trial out showing no early benefit of HCQ treatment.

They have yet to publish the results on whether it benefits patients during the early onset of symptoms. [1]

Is hydroxychloroquine paired with zinc in the two studies? That has been the central claim of people supporting hydroxychloroquine this entire time and so far I've yet to see them used together in an early treatment / preventative study in the US (perhaps they've done so in Europe or China?).

[1] "A separate U trial is examining whether it benefits patients after early onset of symptoms, but results haven’t been published."

https://www.startribune.com/anti-malaria-drug-in-u-of-m-tria...


[flagged]


I think by “people” he meant people qualified to discuss medicine.


5 studies show it is effective for outpatients.

https://academic.oup.com/aje/advance-article/doi/10.1093/aje...


Since this is being repeated multiple times, quoting benmaraschino:

One of these "studies" is a 2-page Google Doc with no real data. Another is the discredited Raoult study, which is under investigation by the journal [1]. Another study cited is also by Raoult's team. The Brazil study (ref. 29) doesn't seem to have passed peer review (yet?) and has severe methodological flaws. Like the Raoult studies, the Brazil study was not randomized, but makes no attempt to control for confounding by indication or self-selection, such as with propensity score matching or similar methods commonly used in observational studies. The last study cited isn't a study, but an article from a local news station.



Please don't fall for this. An article over at ScienceMag [1] states,

> ...James Watson, a statistician at Mahidol who on 28 May published an open letter to the journal and the study’s co-authors, signed by more than 200 clinicians and researchers, that calls for the release of Surgisphere’s hospital-level data, an independent validation of the results, and publication of the peer review comments that led to the Lancet publication.

This blogger's article is dated May 29.

Given that the underlying theme of this blog is "everyone's lying to you about covid19, it's actually not that big of a deal", I doubt James Todaro was as instrumental in The Lancet's retraction as the letter from 200 other researchers the day before.

It will be quite bad if it turns out that the WHO reacted to a study published in The Lancet that turns out to be fraudulent or grossly erroneous. We don't need to make the situation even worse by lending undue credit to other sources of disinformation.

[1]: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/mysterious-company-s...


Todaro and others have been collating HCQ studies for weeks, as visible on Twitter. It's not a competition for credit, except against misleading studies. You can review the Google doc above, which is more than a month old. It contains a list of HCQ studies which include components likely to increase success: early treatment in time to slow viral replication with a combination of HCQ and zinc.

These successful HCQ studies, full of reports of lives saved, are worthy of attention.


Man, I'd love to argue with you on this. I'd love to do a decent job of pointing out that you're moving the discussion away from this potentially fraudulent paper published by The Lancet and towards the broader argument over HCQ. I'd love to spend the time to comprehensively review some dude's Google Doc that, at a random sampling, appears to contain non-peer-reviewed preprints and observational studies from discredited authors and not a single one of the much better studies that are critical of HCQ. I'd like to ask you why you're so readily willing to trust this particular treatment of this subject given the complete lack of contraindicating evidence.

But, I'm completely exhausted.

Between arguing against racists and arguing against bad politics during a global health epidemic and trying to catch and counter some of the relentless stream of disinformation on this and so many other subjects -- and all without any intervention at all from any of the social media platforms that enable all of this, including HN -- I'm tired, and discouraged, and dispirited.

I need to go away for a while. I hope someone else has the time and energy to curb stomp random dude's 25 page Google Doc minutes before someone else cites 25 pages of different BS.


There are well-intentioned and capable people who have done their due diligence and ended up on different sides of this topic. What's interesting about this particular "social media" discussion are the real world consequences and incompatibility of some positions.

If the list of possible scenarios includes death, and people have invested the time to reach informed conclusions in consultation with their doctors, perhaps their choices can be respected.


I haven't heard the phrase "curb stomp" used in science before. That type of emotional language would seem to me to indicate a wish to defend a certain position, rather than evaluate evidence independently and accept an answer of "we don't know with certainty yet" if things seem inconclusive.


Perhaps your exhaustion stems from defending a position, rather than seeking knowledge?


No matter how hard you pout about it some people just won't share your enlightenment. so frustrating, isn't it? Almost as if others have as much right to their own worldview as you do yours. Even if you really think they're wrong.


This is just one of many studies which has not found medical benefits for hydroxycholoroquine.

https://rheumatology.medicinematters.com/covid-19/hydroxychl...


No medical benefit ... in the treatment of covid-19.


its very possible the study can be wrong and HCQ still isn't an effective treatment, not sure you should read this news as an endorsement


Interesting timing given what’s going on in the world. This would have got more coverage 2 weeks ago.


Here is a great example of why I keep pointing out how difficult it is to be a critical thinker. There isn't a single source to go to that gives the current status of HCQ + COVID, and there are dozens of links to journals in this thread that are making my head spin. So when people ask my opinion on HCQ, my answer is now: "I don't know, we don't have enough data that has been studied and approved by multiple peer-reviewed journals, because one isn't enough."

This doesn't shake my attitude toward science in the slightest, but it does leave me feeling very uninformed. But maybe, just maybe, that is the correct phase-state to be in given the data? Or have I been zone-flooded?


What you’re feeling is what real scientific research feels like in real time.

We spend so much time in science classes learning what past scientists have already proven correct, and people come to believe that that is how science is in general: correct.

But working researchers spend most of their time not knowing what is correct, and sometimes not even knowing how to measure correctness. They wallow in uncertainty; that’s what makes it research.


That's not only a correct attitude, it's an absolutely essential one for anybody who takes science seriously.

I mean, now you can understand why the WHO is always putting out statements along the lines of "no evidence yet for X", while random bloggers and HN commentators are already completely convinced of X (or completely convinced against it). Real knowledge takes time. Individual studies don't settle questions.


My answer is "we don't know but there seems to be little harm in trying it." This is what's happening right now. Sure, it's a bit of a shotgun approach, but again, if Drs want to used an already fda approved drug and try various approaches to see if it helps, I see no issue. Honestly, I don't get all the politics around this.


> ... there seems to be little harm in trying it [...] if Drs want to used an already fda approved drug ...

All drugs have side effects, for example https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-5482/hydroxychloroquine-o... So each drug is a (small) risk for the patient. The idea of testing the drugs in RCT before using in the patients in the wild is that you can be quite sure that the benefits are greater than the risks.


There's plenty of possible harm by applying unproven treatments to patients in serious condition. Even if said treatment was deemed to be safe in other instances. Also drug interactions have to be accounted for. It might also exacerbate conditions from this pathology (for instance, further stresses on the cardiovascular system are dangerous for COVID patients).

We are not shamans.


> there seems to be little harm in trying it

Do you have a link to that research?


> “There is a growing mountain of research. But there is increased evidence that we are being bogged down today as specialization extends. The investigator is staggered by the findings and conclusions of thousands of other workers—conclusions which he cannot find time to grasp, much less to remember, as they appear.”

> “The difficulty seems to be, not so much that we publish unduly in view of the extent and variety of present day interests, but rather that publication has been extended far beyond our present ability to make real use of the record. The summation of human experience is being expanded at a prodigious rate, and the means we use for threading through the consequent maze to the momentarily important item is the same as was used in the days of square-rigged ships.”

- Vannevar Bush, As We May Think (1945): https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-m...


What a fascinating article. Thank you for sharing it. It truly shows how much we have progressed and has an optimism that is so refreshing considering it was written right before the end of one of humanity's most deadly/vicious war.

It really , really puts things in perspective and makes me wonder how we are doing much better relatively to most people in ww2 but yet we don't seem to have (or even wish for) a positive outlook on life and the future.


I think not having an opinion on the efficacy of a particular medical treatment is the correct phase-state for anyone who is not a medical professional.


The reality is that although we've improved, we're still slow getting data reliably, analyzing and understanding it. Science is actually a very manual labor.


Not to mention the difficulties with the i/o. next generation sequencing files, depending on the analysis done and the state in the pipeline, are just plain text files (sometimes binary for efficiency) but like 5-100s of GB in size per sample. If you maybe have a thousand samples, good for statistical power, you need terabytes of storage available, a lot of memory, and a lot of fast cores, so the natural answer is to use a compute cluster and some universities have them for their researchers. Not everyone has access to $100k of parallel computing power, however.


The entire CV-19 episode is going to prove to be a master class in critical thinking skills. I think there's a great book in there somewhere. This is a story of common wisdom and normal channels continuing to get it wrong. (and then the eventual correction occurs)

With HCQ, there are multiple layers of noise to disentangle. Best I've got, and I've been watching this for months, is that HCQ and antivirals, in general are somewhat useful before you get infected or extremely early in the infection. They don't cure anything and nobody expected them to. They're also not appropriate to give to people by the time they show up to the hospital. By then it's too late.

That's general advice that has nothing to do with CV-19. It might be relevant that some of these drugs have been around for over 100 years and while not mundane and harmless, they have well-known safety profiles. (Other drugs that might be included in this group would be Tamiflu, or Acyclovir)

So that's the general advice you might get a year ago if you went out with a doctor and had a couple of beers. As you know, however, the HCQ thing especially got severely political. Suddenly we were seeing studies where doctors gave large doses to ICU patients, and implemented a lot of other protocols that made no sense, probably ended up hurting people, but made for good headlines.

As an outsider, there seemed to be a sort of "competition" in some parts of the academic community to come up with various papers that could technically be called scientific, but existed much more as a publicity vehicle. I could easily count a couple of dozen studies, on various topics, that were not of a high quality. I imagine there are all sorts of reasons for that.

Now we're reaching the apex of this small deviation in the mainstream of scientific research. We've got tons of data of dubious provenance being distributed to various studies to say things we're already primed to hear. It was only because a lot of people took the time to call bullshit that this was caught. Congrats to the folks that did that work.

I have no opinion about any of these drugs, but that's my evaluation of the technical quality of the discussion in the area you bring up. I think the it will eventually will all work out, and it's going to make a hell of a story to tell. But we've got a ways to go yet for all of the systems involved to adapt as they need to. We've made great progress. In many ways, CV-19 was not the pandemic everybody was expecting, and it was quite difficult for many organizations to change gears as quickly as required.


HCQ is no miracle. When used without zinc and when used too late it may not help.

It's best used with zinc and early. That's what five studies confirmed here:

https://academic.oup.com/aje/advance-article/doi/10.1093/aje...


Since this is being repeated multiple times, quoting benmaraschino:

One of these "studies" is a 2-page Google Doc with no real data. Another is the discredited Raoult study, which is under investigation by the journal [1]. Another study cited is also by Raoult's team. The Brazil study (ref. 29) doesn't seem to have passed peer review (yet?) and has severe methodological flaws. Like the Raoult studies, the Brazil study was not randomized, but makes no attempt to control for confounding by indication or self-selection, such as with propensity score matching or similar methods commonly used in observational studies. The last study cited isn't a study, but an article from a local news station.


Can someone report this guy for spam/bot?


Well done to the three authors who launched an independent peer review of the dataset, and when those reviewers couldn't verify it, asked for the paper to be withdrawn. I'm sure they will always regret they didn't ask more questions earlier, but once discrepancies emerged, they seem to have acted with integrity.


However, it reminds me how many believe in scientific studies - i.e. individual scientific studies - almost like a religion - holding up one study and result like it's the bible. Instead, we need to attach our primal emotions to the scientific process. Work should be done in the media and popular science to educate the public to make them learn to latch on to the process...and much less abuse of science may take place.

Would anyone else agree?


I would definitely agree; even when we're trying our absolute best to get to the bottom of a phenomenon (and from some people's publication counts, it's clear not everyone does that), it's still possible to delude ourselves and often then also the reviewers. Over time consensus is achieved, but it's rare any scientist trusts a single study or paper. A problem then arises when you really need results fast, as with COVID-19, because good science isn't fast.


Indeed, "I believe in Science" is an all to common phrase these days


Influential Lancet hydroxychloroquine study retracted by 3 authors (https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/hydroxychloroquine-covid-lanc...)

> Three of the authors of an influential article that found hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients retracted the study on concerns about the quality of the data....

> Results of a [different] high-quality randomized, placebo-control trial also published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine from U.S. and Canadian researchers showed hydroxychloroquine was no better than placebo pills at preventing illness from the coronavirus.


> "can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources."

It's a little understatement when the accusations are they made up the data.


You're conflating many "they" here.

The retraction is by the study authors. The data is from a company that's entirely different, and that company claims their data is "proprietary" and they can't share it.

There's strong suspicion that that proprietary data is in fact made up, but the study authors cannot prove it. And you really don't want to retract a study by making unproven allegations.

"We can't vouch for the veracity" is all they can truthfully say.

For the full statement: "“Our independent peer reviewers informed us that Surgisphere would not transfer the full dataset, client contracts, and the full ISO audit report to their servers for analysis as such transfer would violate client agreements and confidentiality requirements. As such, our reviewers were not able to conduct an independent and private peer review and therefore notified us of their withdrawal from the peer-review process.”[1]

The authors tried for an independent audit. Surgisphere failed to cooperate. Given the history of its principal, not a surprise.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/04/covid-19-lance...


The CEO of said company is one of the authors.

In any case, even if he wasn't, the other three dunces should never have trusted such dubious data.


In the best scenario, this whole story is an illustration of incompetence, in the worst case, this is a sign of corruption. In both, more scrutiny is needed.


Back in 1998 Andrew Wakefield duped Lancet with a concocted MMR autism study and the consequence of that study still haunt us to this day.

Now it appears this has happened again.


The MMR study took 12 years from publication to retraction. This one took 12 days.


That's certainly an improvement, but even if health authorities and researchers quickly adapt their knowledge to reflect the retraction of this paper, the wide media circulation of "HCQ will kill you" has permanently poisoned the well of test patients for future research.

Even though the retraction was quick, the damage to future research is permanent. If this was in fact a propaganda operation rather than just incompetence, pride and an unethical career gambit, it was an incredibly successful one.

When someone fakes data to this degree, in a case that has this level of immediate real-world impact, one has to question the motivation behind it. Hope this gets illuminated during the investigation, but I'm not holding my breath.


What did the retracted study say about hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine? Did it claim they were efficacious versus COVID-19, or that they weren't? Or was it something else?


This was the original report: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6...

They claimed that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine both caused more deaths. The study claimed a huge effect size (~20% increase in death rate) and a giant sample (14888 treated, 81144 control across 671 hospitals). Despite not being a proper blinded trial, this still appeared to be strong evidence and sufficient to stop any reasonable doctor who heard of this study from giving these drugs to patients. If the evidence was fabricated, that’s a big deal.


The study claimed to have found evidence that hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine use is correlated with increased COVID-19 mortality.


It claimed that they significantly increased the chances of death.


Since I take it daily for my Rheumatoid Arthritis -- a source of more than a small amount of concern.


IIRC the doses used as an antiviral are quite a big higher than those for an immunosuppressor. Everyone is piling on, but in fact the drug was known to have side effects from decades of use, and the hypothesis that it would hurt more than it helps was absolutely not unfounded. It was wrong (or at least, still unsupported), but it wasn't insane.


You're probably not in intensive care with a life threatening viral infection, so even if there is an increase in mortality in that group you may not need to be concerned.


If you want real scientific studies, have a look here:

https://academic.oup.com/aje/advance-article/doi/10.1093/aje...


One of these "studies" is a 2-page Google Doc with no real data. Another is the discredited Raoult study, which is under investigation by the journal [1]. Another study cited is also by Raoult's team. The Brazil study (ref. 29) doesn't seem to have passed peer review (yet?) and has severe methodological flaws. Like the Raoult studies, the Brazil study was not randomized, but makes no attempt to control for confounding by indication or self-selection, such as with propensity score matching or similar methods commonly used in observational studies. The last study cited isn't a study, but an article from a local news station.

[1] https://retractionwatch.com/2020/04/06/hydroxychlorine-covid...


That's a study of other studies, not clinical work in its own right. That's the academic equivalent of being a blogger. The title, "Early Outpatient Treatment of Symptomatic, High-Risk Covid-19 Patients that Should be Ramped-Up Immediately as Key to the Pandemic Crisis", sounds like a political statement.

The real argument there is "It appears that the FDA, NIH and cardiology society positions have been based upon theoretical calculations about potential adverse events and from measured physiologic changes rather than from current real-world mortality experience with these medications and that their positions should be revised." The author is arguing that while this drug combination does cause measurable heart damage, it's worth it because the overall near-term mortality decreases. That may or may not be justified, but it's a much weaker statement than the paper title would suggest.

Some of the citations are a bit strange. One is to a letter on Google Drive.[1]

[1] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pjgHlqI-ZuKOziN3txQsN5zz...


The media really went to town on this one, the reports that you might die using it lacked some real common sense, all of a sudden a drug that was approved in 1955, considered extremely safe (listed as an essential medicine by WHO) , and used on millions of people... is suddenly not safe.


Isn't the problem that it was so far used in a quite different dosis? The covid applications seems to increase the limit 14x. That's reason enough not to carry over the established safety status.


The medical profession needs to have a serious discussion about whether or not the Lancet should still be treated as a top journal.

In addition to this retraction, 3 of the top 10 most cited retracted papers of all time were published in the Lancet. [0] This includes the infamous Wakefield "vaccines cause autism" paper which is probably the most damaging scientific fraud of the last several decades.

On the editorial side, they've become quite outspoken on political matters [1], publishing one piece calling for the ban of tobacco, a letter expressing strong opinions on the Israel/Palestine conflict, and a piece just a couple weeks ago calling for Americans to vote Trump out of office. The also published a rather controversial study that provided very high estimates of the civilian death toll of the Iraq War. I'm inclined to agree with their position on some issues and disagree with it on others, but either way they seem to court controversy.

All of this has been under the same editor, Richard Horton (who is himself quite outspoken.) Put it all together, and the picture that emerges is a publication that values making a splash (whether by publishing shocking results or by taking a position on political issues) over getting things correct. That's irritating behavior in a tabloid. In a prestigious journal, it's horrifyingly irresponsible.

[0] https://retractionwatch.com/the-retraction-watch-leaderboard...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lancet#Controversies


As I understand it, the WHO changed policy on HCQ because of this study. So, if you had posted a YouTube video criticizing this study and the WHO decision, Google may have taken that video down in accordance with their policy to delete videos the are counter to WHO policy. That didn't actually happen, to my knowledge. But it would have been Google policy if it did.

That is what is wrong with platforms like Google and Facebook adopting the role of fact-checkers.


This comment cannot be upvoted enough IMHO. This scandal is the medical science equivalent of Enron, and it could've easily been covered up in a world where a oligopoly determines the truth.

I think the even bigger danger here is when people want to point out flaws in policies like Section 230 and Net Neutrality. The incentives are huge for these companies to either bury or suppress dissenting views that impact their bottom lines.


The Enron scandal lasted for 10 years and was only exposed by outsiders. This paper was questioned by other scientists from the very first day, and now has been retracted by the authors themselves after barely lasting 10 days. It's not at all comparable.


The Lancet basically created modern anti-vaxxers with the Wakefield fiasco, too, lest we forget.


> Google may have taken that video down in accordance with their policy to delete videos the are counter to WHO policy.

Good grief. Why are urban legends so hard to kill? There is no such policy. There never was.

The source of that bit of ginned-up outrage was an informal interview (when I looked this up earlier, there wasn't even video or a transcript available anywhere!) where someone senior was asked about what Youtube's criteria were for vetting advice in the face of the pandemic. And the answer was a hand-wavy thing about how anything that was clearly wrong, or clearly dangerous, and one of the examples given was about medical advice that clearly runs counter to existing health care bodies like the WHO.

And that's as far as it went. There never was a policy about the WHO. To my knowledge no video was ever removed because of a conflict with the WHO.

The whole point wasn't to nitpick about exactly what the WHO said, it was to reference the fact that Youtube would adhere to expert consensus where possible.

> That is what is wrong with platforms like Google and Facebook adopting the role of fact-checkers.

The irony there is that, had Google or Facebook or someone taken on that role, you wouldn't have internalized this fake fact because whoever it was that spun it to you wouldn't have had an audience. But they didn't. So you got lied to.

Which is better?


> There never was a policy about the WHO.

"Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy." - YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki

> To my knowledge no video was ever removed because of a conflict with the WHO.

"Sharyl Attkisson, host of the nationally syndicated news magazine TV show "Full Measure" had her story about "politicizing COVID-19 medicine" pulled by YouTube, because the video service deemed it 'dangerous.' The issue was that one doctor said that hydroxychloroquine still needed to be studied."

https://abc3340.com/news/nation-world/youtube-reinstates-hyd...


That's the quote from the interview I mentioned. Now find me the policy you claim exists. Hell, even find me a transcript of that interview. This is literally one story written about one out of context quote with no external verification by any of the parties involved. It's the very definition of manufactured outrage.

As far as the video you linked: it was reinstated. That's right there in the headline of the article you linked. They messed up, and put it back. Isn't that saying that their actual policy is the opposite of what you claim?



That policy is completely absurd on its face.

>YouTube doesn't allow content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts the World Health Organization (WHO) or local health authorities’ medical information about COVID-19

What if local health authorities contradict WHO medical information?

Google's mission used to be to organize the world's information. Now they seem to be want to go way beyond that.


>>YouTube doesn't allow content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts the World Health Organization (WHO) or local health authorities’ medical information about COVID-19

>What if local health authorities contradict WHO medical information?

Simple: then you're not allowed to upload videos on those topics at all.


That is just a small, singular quote for the press and not necessarily a fully fleshed explanation of the policy.


Not an urban legend. YouTube removed videos from a US ICU doctor who has a channel called MedCram that does videos for medical students and ongoing education for doctors. They removed all his videos that discussed HCQ around the time the YouTube CEO made that statement. He made a lot of noise and it seems some/all of his videos were restored.

https://www.change.org/p/youtube-tell-youtube-to-letusdecide...


Unless the BBC is grossly misrepresenting the statements, it is not "someone senior" but the CEO, and the BBC quotes “Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy.” [1]

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-52388586


> Unless the BBC is grossly misrepresenting the statements

That story ran six weeks ago, and there's been no corroboration of that "policy" by any other source in any other media. It's all a bunch of huffing about this one out-of-context, apparently off-the-cuff (quote. So yeah, I think that's pretty much the definition of "grossly misrepresented".


> There never was a policy about the WHO.

Not quite. Before there's more back and forth about some interview and what that meant, let's quote the actual policy, and focus the discussion on that?

from https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/9891785 :

> YouTube doesn't allow content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts the World Health Organization (WHO) or local health authorities’ medical information about COVID-19. This is limited to content that contradicts WHO or local health authorities’ guidance on:

- Treatment

- Prevention

- Diagnostic

- Transmission

followed by a long list of examples


This is a great comment. People complain about youtube censorship... on YouTube.

There is a widespread misunderstanding of the YouTube removal reasons. Bad faith actors are spreading these rumors and creating conditions to falsely claim censorship.

For example, most "alt-right" videos and users were removed due to their targeted harassment of other users. But they mix it in a larger video and then claim that YouTube removed the video for the generalized content. This is a bad faith argument, and they know what they are doing.


Let me take this tech-platform-speech train of thought into a recent area that may be super-downvotable (oh well!).

Trump was fact checked by Twitter a few weeks ago for claiming mail in ballots are linked to voter fraud [1]. In reality, there have been several hundred cases of mail in voter fraud, though certainly the convicted cases are rare on a percentage basis (though actual cases are unknown).[2]

Many thousands are today posting about how black people are being continuously killed by police, but yet no Twitter fact checks. In reality, just 10 unarmed black men were killed by the police last year.[3]

Can anyone here imagine Twitter putting up a fact check saying "Misrepresentation/exaggeration: Only 10 unarmed black men were killed by police last year"?

Is it just a coincidence that Twitter is a company who's employees lean heavily left and their policies also lean heavily left? What would a conservatively run Twitter look like with fact checks, and would you be comfortable with that?

[1] https://twitter.com/i/events/1265330601034256384?lang=en [2] https://www.factcheck.org/2020/05/more-false-mail-in-ballot-... [3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/national/police...

Need to clarify (for those harsh to judge) that I am in no way comparing the severity or tragic nature of fraud vs killing, just Twitter's response to various facts on its platform.


> In reality, just 10 unarmed black men were killed by the police last year.[3]

Isn't that 10 way too many and the whole point of the current protests.


This is already a decreasing trend, and drastically at that. Typically, you protest about things getting worse, not better.

Do note that IIRC, this is 10 unarmed black men shot by the police though, since non-shooting deaths aren't properly tracked. So Imperfect data collection could be an issue here.

And on the too many side, I think that 1 is too many, but unfortunately, the nature of the american enforcement landscape (and I don't mean police attitudes here, I mean prevalence of guns) mean that mistakes fundamentally more likely than in most other countries.


> you protest about things getting worse, not better.

I'm not sure this was the motivating factor for these initial protests.

Now it may have morphed into this over time, but I think they started on much simpler terms.

The world watch as a police officer kill someone and then watch as the authorities did very little about it (i.e. getting sacked for killing someone is a rather strange form of punishment).

The protests where in response to that poor attempted by the authorities to serve up justice for what is an obvious act of manslaughter if not murder.


10 of any tragic thing is too many. The question is if that constitutes a trend, epidemic, pattern, etc in a country with 18,000 police agencies, 800,000 police and 330 million people.

Twitter made the case that Trump's tweet was false by saying "These claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post and others. Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud."

Why can't that statement be rewritten to say that "Experts say that police killings of unarmed black men are very rare".

and most of those 10 were attacking police officers when they were killed


> Many thousands are today posting about how black people are being continuously killed by police, but yet no Twitter fact checks. In reality, just 10 unarmed black men were killed by the police last year.

Do you realize how you moved the goalpost? The second sentence does not contradict the first one ...


The point is that there is mail in ballot fraud, Twitter claims Trump's fear mongering is wrong because it's extremely rare. Posted below, butt there are 18,000 police agencies and 800,000 police officers in a country of 330 million people. 10 is not an epidemic pattern just like Twitter claims that 500 mail in ballot prosecutions (over multiple years) is not a pattern.


It's pretty likely that most cases of voter fraud are never detected. How would they be? It's pretty certain there almost no undetected cases of people being killed by police, at least in this country.


You claim (link is paywalled) 10 is the number of unarmed black people killed by the police, which has no bearing whatsoever on how many black people are killed by the police.

From similar stats, about 240 (24% of 1000 total) black people were killed by the police.


I'm using unarmed as somewhat of a proxy for "potentially unjustified", but the BLM movement also uses it frequently.

Of course some of the armed ones are unjustified (for example, the tragic and imo unjustified Philando Castile shooting counts as armed) and some of the unarmed ones are likely justified.

"yet again, another unarmed black man was killed by the police" is the typical refrain and the narrative the protestors are screaming and tweeting.


I believe the specific issue at play was not the claims about voter fraud, but the misleading representations about who will recieve a mail in ballot in California (specifically an implied assertion that you don't need to register to vote to recieve a mail in ballot in California)

The later goes against the specific rules in Twitter's "civic integrity policy" that try to prevent to use of Twitter to spread misinformation that can result in voter suppression.

You can say falsely say election was rigged but you cannot falsely say that a poling location was closed (at least on Twitter).


Fair for that "who will receive a ballot" point. If that's all Twitter was fact checking my point would not stand.

But disagree on the other point of their fact check - which goes with my argument. Here is the quote from the top of their fact check of his tweet:

"Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud

On Tuesday, President Trump made a series of claims about potential voter fraud after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an effort to expand mail-in voting in California during the COVID-19 pandemic. These claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post and others. Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud."

This quote could literally be written to disprove any of a number of liberal arguments - but yet curiously isn't.


[flagged]


I'm not trolling.

Upon rereading his tweet, you are correct that I somewhat downplayed his words.

My point remains - that the strong words of calling mail in ballot fraud substantially fraudulent and calling police killings of unarmed black men a national epidemic are similar in their over-broadening of small-percentage problems.

There were two parts to his tweet-

(The part I have issue fact checking) 1. There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.

(Part of this seems false - "anyone living in the state") 2. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/12652558351245393...


You do realize that the whole reason we're discussing this retraction is because the scientific community did discuss its validity?

So far I've seen a lot of self-correction done by the scientific and medical communities themselves. There hasn't been a single example of a nontrivial story broken by a guy delivering spittle-flecked rants on Youtube. The ranters, however, are very good at taking credit for what actual scientists did.


Self-correction in this case is not much cause for celebration. You have to ask yourself how the hell this ever got into The Lancet in the first place.

But that's not really the point. Doesn't it bother you even a little bit that you might be barred from posting a valid critique of a bogus study?


Can you give us an example of a valid critique that was barred from YouTube?


This video was removed, before being reinstated later:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB-_SV-y11Y


> spittle-flecked rants

This added color detracts from your comment's point. It's the kind of thing that would be included in, well, a spittle-flecked YouTube rant.


Yes, but many of those researchers rely upon tools supplied by the oligopoly to communicate.

Plandemic is probably a stupid movie. I haven't seen it, so I cannot judge. Regardless, it has been scrubbed from Google Drive accounts by the powers that be!

Misinformation about coronavirus finds new avenues on unexpected sites (WaPo) http://archive.today/wKfVi

What kind of automated or intentional interference might researchers face in the future when Google or Facebook has already decided on the facts?

P.S. The crazy thing about the Plandemic take down is that it is driven by someone trying to license their content removal patent to the oligopoly. The WaPo reporter never even bothered to research that, or if she did, she didn't disclose that fact in her article! Another hidden business interest.

https://adage.com/article/digital/eric-feinberg-man-google-y...


YouTube: censors any conversation about topic.

HN Commenter: claims no one YouTube did anything to help change conversation about topic. Uses this to validate YouTube censorship.

That’s some Catch-22 type stuff.


> You do realize that the whole reason we're discussing this retraction is because the scientific community did discuss its validity?

This is the type of “Only the experts can decide for us... attitude that people are fed up with. A cabal of experts should not get to decide which theories I want to read about by simply labeling them as wrong or crack pot conspiracies.


You could have read the paper yourself 10 days ago to find the flaws. You could have read the public discussions where scientists questioned the paper. You could have read the published "Expression of Concern" in the Lancet yesterday. You can read the retraction notice today. What exactly are you missing?


Or you could have watched a Youtube video.

In fact I heard about that flawed paper from a Youtube video.


> What exactly are you missing?

Why should I be limited to the source material? Why can’t I watch a video of someone discussing the topic and providing their own analysis?


Of course you can. For example, Dr. John Campbell has a popular Youtube channel where he dissects new studies. And if you just want an opposing political spin, you know Fox News and co. have Youtube channels, right?

What gets taken down is spittle-flecked rants about how COVID-19 was created by Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci to bring about the Biblical apocalypse, but can be cured by drinking bleach, but simultaneously it doesn't even exist.


At the end of the day it boils down to whether you think you get to decide what others get to watch and hear. The content itself isn’t relevant because once you go down that road, then it’s just a matter of squeezing or shifting the acceptable window.


> That is what is wrong with platforms like Google and Facebook adopting the role of fact-checkers.

Along with that little problem of Google and Facebook being aggressive monopolies capable of wiping you off the Internet as a presence to an extent that whatever you're trying to publish will barely exist online (G search, gone; YouTube, gone; FB, gone; Instagram, gone; WhatsApp, gone).

Five monopoly positions on critical speech platforms between the two of them.

Those two monopolies have more totalitarian speech restriction capabilities than the US Government does by a dramatic margin. They should be broken up and regulated accordingly, due to their monopoly positions de facto putting them into the role of censor.


So then should we also retract the continuous media message that we've heard for days, claiming that chloroquine kills people? It was on the front page of every media outlet.


No, we should cover the retraction. And we are, that's what the linked article is. I genuinely don't understand the need on some people's part to impart an "agenda" here.

The president of the united states made this front page news by boosting the drug in a context where there was minimal evidence that it helped. That's newsworthy. It just is. The same principle that gets his statements on the front page gets refutations there too. It's news if he's right. It's news if he's wrong.

I mean... what would your preferred action be? Not cover newsworthy science? Not cover the statements of the president? Or do you just not want them to cover stuff you personally disagree with?

In reality: they covered the president, they covered the result, and they covered the retraction. All with pretty solid reach, frankly. We're literally yelling about it right now.


Such a poop-show. This is going to hurt the public trust in science, let’s hope this is short term because what is the alternative?


Another study that was using the same data was retracted from NE Journal of Medicine:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2021225


Regarding HCQ safety:

This is from the CDC web site: safe for young, old and pregnant:

https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/resources/pdf/fsp/drugs/hydroxyc...


Is this the same as what is applied for covid patients? Elsewhere it was stated that for covid, the dosis is increased 14x.


The lancet is a good journal, but how did this study as well as that retracted study on vaccines and autism end up in this journal and not JAMA or NEJM? At this point, I'm a little suspicious of their peer review process if these contrarian papers that turn out to be wrong in the end aren't being properly scrutinized at the peer review level, and will spend much more time in methods sections of striking lancet papers.




I hope this will lead to more public scrutiny about the practices of the leading scientific journals.


The study's three authors retracted their study on June 4th, "because independent peer reviewers could not access the data used for the analysis," reports The Hill. "The source of the data was Surgisphere Corporation, which told peer reviewers it would not transfer the full dataset used for the study because it would violate client agreements and confidentiality requirements."

However, the same day the New England Journal of Medicine published results from a new double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled trial which found hydroxychloroquine didn't help prevent people exposed to others with Covid-19 from developing the disease. One of the study's co-authors said that as a preventative agent, "It doesn't seem to work."

https://science.slashdot.org/story/20/05/23/0140202/study-of...


This should terrify any researcher working with a private company’s data. I think top journals need to change their policy here ably data availability, especially when private companies get involved.


> private companies

Government entities hardly exempt from self-serving bias and manipulation.


Important distinction though - preventative vs curative


Headline is wrong. Lancet didn't retract the study, three of the four authors did.


Ok, we've put three authors in the HN title to reflect that.


now will there be a next step ? This looks like fraud, and my hope now is that there is a police investigation, because it may very well be guided by economical interest.

No conspiracy theory here, there's nothing sure, but we can't rule it out completely either.


Also, when you think about it, they put a lot of lives at risk by publishing, seemingly, false information in a critical time.


$20 (patent free) Hydroxychoroquine vs $100s/1000s for patented medicine


Why assume it's economic? All of the signs point to political interest in my opinion. Trump said we should check it out, it might help. Therefore, we must destroy it, because Orange Man Bad.

Just because a President, or any man, is bad, doesn't automatically mean that every word he says is wrong. And if he really is that bad, why is it necessary to fabricate studies out of thin air in order to discredit something he said, complete with people dying because they couldn't get a medication that might have helped. If he is actually bad, the actual facts should be plenty to demonstrate it.

This doesn't even seem like a "conspiracy theory" to me. If you want to get into conspiracy theories, you'd have to start asking what else is getting this treatment.


Trying to jump to a political conclusion is a waste of time. It would make more sense that the study was fake science specifically designed to be discovered, to make Trump look better. See? It is just pointless to hypothesise without strong independent information, which is lacking at present.


What's the economic interest of claiming the medication doesn't work?


The company that provided the data, Surgisphere, might have been trying to raise their profile by getting a big publication. They're a bit shady.

https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2020/06/02/su...


To prop up a competing medication.


Increased sales of a competing medication, like Remdesivir.


There a huge battle going on between hydroxychloroquine (the Republican therapy of choice when combined with a zinc supplement) and remdesivir (the antiviral drug by Gilead that's preferred by anti-Trump liberals).

To answer your question, there can be an economic interest in claiming a competitor treatment (which is generic and manufactured cheaply) doesn't work.


[flagged]


You are going to get votebombed for phrasing it like, but I do think a serious look needs to be made based on this on whether political outcomes have motivated individuals and organizations to discard their normal vetting process, because if nothing else, the appearance of corrupted credibility runs very high with this.


yeah. the "anti-conspiracy theory" reflex is starting to become just stupid. We do live in a world where people struggle for power, influence and money. It's just as silly pretending everything is due to people plotting as it is to pretend everyone always has pure intentions.


Yeah, that's a shame. Vote bombed in what looks like under 20 minutes.

How many upvote points do I need before I can read [flagged] posts?

edit: Found showdead, thanks everyone. Probably makes sense to get votebombed because its low effort. I retract my comment.


Go to your profile and change "showdead" to true.


Click the time stamp ("N minutes ago").


Set showdead true in your profile.


Five studies show effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquine for outpatients

https://academic.oup.com/aje/advance-article/doi/10.1093/aje...


Since this is being repeated multiple times, quoting benmaraschino:

One of these "studies" is a 2-page Google Doc with no real data. Another is the discredited Raoult study, which is under investigation by the journal [1]. Another study cited is also by Raoult's team. The Brazil study (ref. 29) doesn't seem to have passed peer review (yet?) and has severe methodological flaws. Like the Raoult studies, the Brazil study was not randomized, but makes no attempt to control for confounding by indication or self-selection, such as with propensity score matching or similar methods commonly used in observational studies. The last study cited isn't a study, but an article from a local news station.




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