Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

On 4 June 2020, after a week of increasing scientific concern and scrutiny, first The Lancet, then a little over an hour later the New England Journal of Medicine, retracted studies that were based on inaccessible data, provided by the Surgisphere corporation. The studies have been extremely damaging to chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 clinical trials around the globe. Here is MORU’s statement in response to these events.

Composite image with a screenshot on both articles, retraction in both The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine

The Lancet paper by Mehra et al. (May 22) which claimed that hydroxychloroquine increased mortality in COVID-19 and caused arrhythmias was retracted yesterday.

So was its predecessor in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Both studies were based on inaccessible, and therefore unverifiable data, provided by the Surgisphere corporation.

Unfortunately, the Lancet paper, the subsequent media coverage, and the reaction by some regulatory authorities (notably the UK regulator MHRA) and WHO have all been extremely damaging to the chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 clinical trials. Some studies, including our COPCOV prophylaxis study, which aims to see if these drugs at lower doses may prevent illness (which has yet to be answered, and may still be the case even if these drugs don’t work in treatment), have still not been given permission to restart. All the scientific evidence was put before the MHRA shortly after their decision to issue a notice stating they were minded to suspend the trial, and suggesting we stop enrolment, two weeks ago.

Many important questions will need to be answered in the coming weeks and months, but we would like to use this unfortunate opportunity to make two relevant recommendations which we believe are in the public interest.

  1. Medical and scientific journals should not accept papers based on inaccessible data
  2. Regulatory authorities and other agencies responding to such reports should satisfy themselves of the veracity and applicability of published data and the correctness of analyses before they act

Similar stories

Congratulations to Professor Sir David Warrell, appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George!

David Warrell, MORU founding director, has been appointed by the Queen ‘Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for services to global Health Research and Clinical Practice’. Please join us in congratulating Sir David on receiving this richly deserved high honour!

Laos’ first Pint of Science: warty newts, COVID, AI for Instagram, and more!

Organised by a grass-root community of thousands of scientists across the world, Pint of Science 2022 allows researchers in 25 countries and over 800 cities to share their latest findings with lay folk in interesting, informal settings. Lao PDR joined the global Pint of Science family on Monday 9 May, when the first-ever Pint of Science Laos kicked off!

Patient recruitment on track in Oxford-led DeTACT trial of safe, effective drug combinations to prevent the spread of artemisinin and multi-drug resistant malaria in Africa

Today is World Malaria Day. The global fight against malaria is at a critical point. No new antimalarial drugs are expected in the near future, and if multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria becomes established in East Africa and spreads to other parts of Africa, millions will be at risk of drug-resistant malaria infection and death. The development of triple artemisinin-based combination therapies aims to prevent or delay the emergence of artemisinin and multi-drug resistant malaria in Africa.

PRIORITISE study team publishes results, now seeks partners

In regions where few people have received Covid-19 vaccines, health systems remain vulnerable to surges in SARS-CoV-2 infections. During the delta-wave of COVID-19 in India, for example, healthcare facilities and staff across the country struggled to cope with the surge in the number of cases of COVID-19 due to a shortage of hospital beds for people with severe cases, plus shortages of medicines and limited human resources.

Under the Mask, drama film based on testimonies of tuberculosis patients

In 2022, tuberculosis (TB) remains a major global health problem, particularly in developing countries. On the Thai-Myanmar border, TB is an important problem among migrants, a vulnerable, very mobile population, with unstable, often difficult living conditions, insecure incomes, and poor access to health services.

TACT-CV study shows artemether–lumefantrine plus amodiaquine an effective treatment for multidrug-resistant malaria in GMS

A triple artemisinin-based combination therapy (TACT) of artemether-lumefantrine plus amodiaquine (AL+AQ) for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in areas with a high prevalence of artemisinin resistance is a well-tolerated, effective treatment for multidrug-resistant parasites, say a team of MORU-led researchers.