A thick mystery surrounds the study on hydroxychloroquine published last week in the medical journal <em>The Lancet</em>, the conditions in which it was conducted and the reliability of its conclusions.
May 29, 2020 15h24
Updated at 20h16
Scientists are attacking the study on hydroxychloroquine
The canadian Press
Some 120 scientists from around the world, including at least five Canadians, were released Friday an open letter in which they questioned the methodology of a study that, last week, warned that hydroxychloroquine (or chloroquine) increased the risk of death of patients hospitalized due to the coronavirus.
The impact of this study has been such that the world Health Organization has decreed the cessation of clinical trials involving these two molecules in the framework of the fight to the COVID-19.
The letter is addressed to the managers of the medical journal The Lancet , which published the study and its authors. It lists a dozen concerns about the statistical models and the data used. The signatories are demanding more transparency regarding the provenance of the data and an independent validation of the study.
The letter is particularly signed by experts who have publicly questioned the usefulness of hydroxychloroquine to combat the sars coronavirus.
The study, published on may 22, was based on data that would have been provided to the company in the united states Surgisphere. The source of these data is now disliked by more than one, then that Surgisphere claims to have access to thousands of medical records from anywhere in the world.
It deplores, for example, that the country and the hospitals who have contributed data may not be identified and that the authors of the study have refused to answer questions about it, which prevents cross-check the accuracy of the data used.
“The australian group had been surprised to see their data in a study written by a private company, of Chicago,” said one of the signatories of the letter, dr. Todd Campbell Lee of the faculty of medicine of McGill University.
“In Canada, I have difficulty to get data from other centres, so it is incredible that a foreign enterprise has such data. They were also surprised to find that the number of deaths was too high for Australia as a whole.”
In addition, when the heads of australian who are interested in the treatment that many patients would have received on their territory, they were astonished to see they were many to have apparently received chloroquine.
“Except that the chloroquine is not readily available in Australia, said dr. Lee. You need to ask a special permission to the government to get it. Therefore, if one of the two drugs was used, it would have almost certainly had to be the hydroxychloroquine, which is available without special permission. It has raised many questions.”
So who are these hospitals australians who have shared their data with Surgisphere ? The company refuses to say, and evokes confidentiality agreements.
Only two studies
Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial drug by the us president Donald Trump has frequently extolled the virtues to combat the pandemic. It was recently revealed in take him-even as a preventive measure.
But after analyzing the records of nearly 100,000 people spread over six continents, dr. Mandeep Mehdra, Harvard University, and his colleagues had concluded that this treatment seemed to put the survival of patients in danger.
Patients who had received hydroxychloroquine were also more likely to suffer from a form of cardiac arrhythmia that may cause sudden death.
The same authors had published another study on the COVID-19 approximately two weeks earlier, always on the basis of figures from Surgisphere — a study which included this time the canadian data.
“What hospitals provide the data of their patients with the COVID-19 at a private company in american ?” asked dr. Lee.
“If I want to get data of my own hospital (MUHC), I have to ask the ethics committee to explain what I want to do, to justify why I do not need consent from patients to use their data […], but someone valid the ethical aspect of the thing. What is interesting in the article in The Lancet, is that it is said that no ethics approval was not required.”
A thick mystery surrounds the study on the hydroxychloroquine, the conditions in which it was conducted and the reliability of its conclusions.
“I would be jealous to have the data they claim to have, concluded dr. Lee. There are so many answers that I could answer if I didn’t need permission to use them ! I would publish a study in a week if I had these data, but they have published only two. The only two studies Surgisphere I find bear on the COVID-19.”