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The Lancet Issues Retraction of Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine for Treatment of COVID-19

Report by Paula Antolini, June 4, 2020, 11:34PM EDT

The Lancet has issued a retraction of their original article referring to Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine with or
without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis.

Statement from The Lancet:

Today, three of the authors of the paper, “Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis”, have retracted their study. They were unable to complete an independent audit of the data underpinning their analysis. As a result, they have concluded that they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.” 

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The Lancet takes issues of scientific integrity extremely seriously, and there are many outstanding questions about Surgisphere and the data that were allegedly included in this study. Following guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), institutional reviews of Surgisphere’s research collaborations are urgently needed.

The retraction notice is published today, June 4, 2020. The article will be updated to reflect this retraction shortly.

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“After publication of our Lancet Article, several concerns were raised with respect to the veracity of the data and analyses conducted by Surgisphere Corporation and its founder and our co-author, Sapan Desai, in our publication. We launched an independent third party peer review of Surgisphere with the consent of Sapan Desai to evaluate the origination of the database elements, to confirm the completeness of the database, and to replicate the analyses presented in the paper.

“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.

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“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.

“We always aspire to perform our research in accordance with the highest ethical and professional guidelines. 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. Due to this unfortunate development, the authors request that the paper be retracted.

“We all entered this collaboration to contribute in good faith and at a time of great need during the COVID-19 pandemic. We deeply apologize to you, the editors, and the journal readership for any embarrassment or inconvenience that this may have caused.”

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ABOUT THE LANCET

The Lancet began as an independent, international weekly general medical journal founded in 1823 by Thomas Wakley. Since its first issue (October 5, 1823), the journal has strived to make science widely available so that medicine can serve, and transform society, and positively impact the lives of people.

Over the past two centuries, The Lancet has sought to address urgent topics in our society, initiate debate, put science into context, and influence decision makers around the world.

The Lancet has evolved as a family of journals (across Child & Adolescent Health, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Digital Health, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Global Health, Haematology, HIV, Infectious Diseases, Neurology, Oncology, Planetary Health, Psychiatry, Public Health, Respiratory Medicine, Biomedicine, Clinical Medicine), but retains at its core the belief that medicine must serve society, that knowledge must transform society, that the best science must lead to better lives.

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