President Trump has been a cheerleader for the drug hydroxychloroquine, pointing in a tweet and in person to a French study as evidence that one particular drug combination might be “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”
But now the medical society that published the French research has issued a statement saying they’re reviewing the study again and “a correction to the scientific record may be considered.”
Dr. Kevin Tracey, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in New York City, gave an even more pointed assessment of the French research.
“The study was a complete failure,” he said.
“It was pathetic,” added Art Caplan, head of the division of medical ethics at the New York University School of Medicine.
The small French study of 20 people found that taking hydroxychloroquine was associated with the “viral load reduction/disappearance in COVID-19 patients,” noting that the effect was “reinforced” with azithromycin, an antibiotic better known as a Z-pack.
Tracey and Caplan pointed out that several patients who took the drug, and ended up faring poorly, dropped out of the trial, and their outcomes were not factored into the study’s final conclusions.
The International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy published the study online in its journal, the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, on March 20.
The society and the publisher of the journal, Elsevier, issued a joint statement that “concerns have been raised regarding the content, the ethical approval of the trial and the process that this paper underwent to be published within International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.”
According to the statement, the study authors had been contacted to address concerns, and that “additional independent peer review is ongoing to ascertain whether concerns about the research content of the paper have merit.”
One of the study’s co-authors, Jean-Marc Rolain, is also editor-in-chief of the journal.
The statement noted that Rolain was not involved in the peer review of the manuscript.
The statement from the society and Elsevier is dated April 3, but a previous statement with the same date was on the same webpage and has since been removed.
That statement by Andreas Voss, president of the society, said the study “does not meet the Society’s expected standard” and that “although ISAC recognises it is important to help the scientific community by publishing new data fast, this cannot be at the cost of reducing scientific scrutiny and best practices.”
Voss, Rolain and Didier Raoult, a lead study author, did not immediately respond to CNN emails seeking comment.
Trump’s glowing reviews of an unproven drug
Rarely does one unproven drug make such headlines, but hydroxychloroquine did due to Elon Musk, conservative media and Trump.
A recent article in Vanity Fair laid out the sequence of events.
On March 16, Musk, the Tesla CEO, tweeted that it “maybe worth considering chloroquine for C19.” Hydroxychloroquine is a derivative of chloroquine, and C19 is Covid-19, the medical term for the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Two days later, Breitbart and