Certainly, this controversial study on hydroxychloroquine published two weeks ago will have caused a stir. The Lancet magazine has just withdrawn it, explaining that three of its authors had retracted. They discussed the responsibility of the Surgisphere, a company specializing in health data analysis.
Retraction of the authors and deletion of the study
Just a few days ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the resumption of clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine. This decision followed a suspension of these same tests ten days earlier. It is a study published in The Lancet on May 22, 2020, that is behind the case. The latter raised the lack of evidence of the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine on hospitalized Covid-19 patients. There were even reports of side effects, including heart rate, which could lead to death.
The study had generated a wave of protest, to which even researchers originally reluctant to hydroxychloroquine contributed. Just before the WHO statement regarding the resumption of testing, The Lancet had issued a warning alerting readers to the fact that serious scientific questions had been brought to its attention. According to an article in the Reuters news agency dated June 5, 2020, the scientific journal went even further by completely removing the study.
If The Lancet withdrew the study, the reason is not directly in the wave of contestation following its publication. In reality, three of the authors – including Professor Mandeep R Mehra – retracted. They cited concerns about the quality and veracity of the study data. They mainly designated Surgisphere, the analytics company that provided the data. She would have been far from perfect in her work to ensure an independent review.
The obscure society Surgisphere
Dr. Sapan Desai, the fourth author of the study, avoided commenting on the case. And for good reason, the person concerned has been the managing director of Surgisphere since its foundation in 2008. Let us recall in passing that a second scientific journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, has already withdrawn another study for the same reasons. However, it was also based on Surgisphere data and had as its main author Professor Mandeep R Mehra of the Harvard School of Medicine.
Employed at Northwest Community Hospital (Illinois, USA) until 2016, vascular surgeon Sapan Desai is a controversial figure across the Atlantic. He is in effect under three pending procedures for medical malpractice in the United States.