Scientists recalled articles about the dangers of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that US President Donald Trump has positioned as an effective drug for coronavirus. However, its effectiveness and safety remains to be proven.
The authors of two articles on the dangers of hydroxychloroquine recalled their publications – they were not able to get full access to the data on which they were based, which cast doubt on the conclusions of the work. However, this does not mean that hydroxychloroquine is effective and safe – it still requires additional research.
An article on hydroxychloroquine published in Lancet magazine was based on data from Surgisphere, a privately held company. From the conclusions, hydroxychloroquine was associated with a higher risk of death among some patients with COVID-19. Immediately after the publication in late May, it caused many questions from scientists and journalists, which led to a number of corrections, but the authors continued to insist: hydroxychloroquine and chlorochlorin are ineffective in treating viral infections.
However, three of the four authors of the article admitted that they were unable to independently verify the data that formed the basis of the analysis. As a result, they said that “they can no longer vouch for the accuracy of the sources of the primary data.”
The Lancet editors take data reliability and transparency very seriously, and there were many unanswered questions regarding Surgisphere and the information it provided. Therefore, the article was decided to withdraw.
“After the publication of our article in Lancet magazine, there were some concerns about the reliability of data and analyzes conducted by Surgisphere Corporation and its founder and co-author Sapan Desai,” the authors of the article explained. – With the consent of Sapan Desai, we launched an independent expert analysis to assess the origin of the database elements, confirm the completeness of the database, and also to reproduce the analyzes presented in the article. Our independent reviewers informed us that Surgisphere will not transfer the full set of data, client contracts and the full audit report to its servers for analysis, since such a transfer would violate client agreements and privacy requirements. In this regard, our reviewers were unable to conduct an independent and private expert assessment and therefore notified us of their withdrawal from this process. ”
The authors added that they always strive to conduct research in accordance with the highest ethical and professional standards, and never forget about the responsibility and that they, as researchers, carefully monitor that the data sources comply with their standards.
“Based on this, we can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources. In connection with this unfortunate development of events, the authors ask to remove the article,
They concluded. “We all entered into this collaboration to make a good faith contribution to research during the COVID-19 pandemic.” “We deeply apologize to you, the editors and readers of the magazine, for any difficulties or inconveniences this may have caused.”
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The author who refrained from commenting is the same Desai, the founder of Surgisphere. The company’s mission is to “tirelessly make progress in the areas of machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data in order to develop industry-leading tools that will enable healthcare professionals to make better, faster and more accurate decisions.”
The publication of this study prompted WHO to stop the studies of hydroxychloroquine, but when doubts about the reliability of the results, the organization resumed the study of the drug.
In less than an hour, another study on hydroxychloroquine was withdrawn and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It was also based on Surgisphere data.
“Since all authors were not given access to the source data, as well as third-party auditors did not have access to them, we cannot verify the primary data sources underlying our article. Therefore, we ask you to withdraw the article. We apologize to the editors and readers of the magazine for the difficulties encountered, ”the authors of the work said.
However, recalling articles does not mean that hydroxychloroquine is effective and safe. The drug was given a second chance, and it remains to be seen whether hopes will come true.