COVID-19 : The Lancet retracts inaccurate finding on Hydroxychloroquine

The Lancet medical journal has retracted a recent finding which claimed that Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine could increase the risk of death for COVID-19 patients.

Lancet’s research article was titled “Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis”.

Soon after this finding was published, the World Health Organization halted ongoing clinical trials. 

But on June 3, WHO Chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced his organization was going to resume clinical trials.
The WHO Chief said “The Data Safety Monitoring Board decided there was no reason to discontinue the international trial after reviewing available data on the on drug”.

On Thursday June 4, The Lancet published a retraction on the basis that the authors of the finding were unable to confirm the accuracy of the data .

The author’s retraction  said,
“After publication of our Lancet article, several concerns were raised with respect to the veracity of the data and analyses conducted by Surgisphere Corporation. Based on this development, we can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources”.

Besides widespread reactions from researchers, The Lancet editor, Richard Horton, told The Guardian , “This is a shocking example of research misconduct in the middle of a global health emergency”.

‘Our analysis should not be overinterpreted’

Following The Lancet’s retraction, Surgisphere , the US health care analytics company issued a statement indicating that , their findings were merely observational and not conclusive.

“In our hydroxychloroquine analysis, we studied a very specific group of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and have clearly stated that the results of our analyses should not be over-interpreted to those that have yet to develop such disease or those that have not been hospitalized. We also clearly outlined the limitations of an observational study that cannot fully control for unobservable confounding measures, and we concluded that off-label use of the drug regimens outside of the context of a clinical trial should not be recommended”.

Surgisphere also says it agrees with other agencies including the US Food and Drugs Administration – FDA, which have found no benefit or potential harm associated to the drug.

The retraction does not however mean that the drug is harmful or not, to COVID-19 patients.

While retracting the findings, the medical journal, the Lancet, tendered an apology for inconveniences.

“We apologise to the editors and to readers of the Journal for the difficulties that this has caused.”

 

Kathy Neba Sina

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