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I have a feeling this lawsuit will backfire.

Palko points us to this news article by Melissa Davey:

World expert in scientific misconduct faces legal action for challenging integrity of hydroxychloroquine study . . .

A world-renowned Dutch expert in identifying scientific misconduct and error, Dr Elisabeth Bik, has been threatened with legal action for questioning the integrity of a study promoting the drug hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19.

The case, filed with the French state prosecutor by controversial infectious diseases physician Dr Didier Raoult, has prompted hundreds of scientists from across the world to publish an open letter calling for science whistleblowers to be protected.

In March 2020, Bik published a blog post analysing a paper led by Raoult. His paper claimed the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine was effective in treating Covid infections, especially when given in combination with an antibiotic.

Bik raised questions about the paper’s methodology, including that the researchers had failed to control for confounding factors. In strong clinical trials, the control group (who are given a placebo) and the treatment group (who are given the drug) should be as similar as possible so scientists can be confident any effects are from the medication alone.

Bik pointed out that patients should be of similar age and gender ratio, be equally sick at the start of treatment, and analysed in the same way, with the only difference being whether they received treatment or not. She said the treatment and placebo groups in Raoult’s study differed in important ways that could have affected the results.

Six patients enrolled in the treatment group at the beginning of the study were not accounted for by the end, missing from the data. . . .

This sort of slapp suit is very disturbing, but in this case I’m guessing that Raoult is too far from the power nexus to be able to succeed.

9 Comments

  1. paul alper says:

    A much earlier article–May of last year–in the NYT

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/magazine/didier-raoult-hydroxychloroquine.html:
    ———————————–
    According to one survey, by late March, Raoult had become one of France’s most popular “political personalities,” with particular appeal on the populist extremes. Votives [*] bearing his image were being sold in Marseille, and on some evenings, at 8 p.m., a battalion of municipal garbage trucks assembled on the roadway outside his hospital, where the drivers leaned on their horns in loud and furious tribute. A hundred-foot banner, painted by a club of local soccer fans and strung up near the entrance, read, “Marseille and the world behind Prof. Raoult!!!”

    He believes it to be unnecessary, in addition to being unethical, to run randomized controlled trials, or R.C.T.s, of treatments for deadly infectious diseases. If these have become the accepted standard in biomedical research, Raoult contends, it is only because they appeal to statisticians “who have never seen a patient.” He refers to these scientists disdainfully as “methodologists.”
    ———————————————
    *And, how many of the contributors to this blog have votive offerings and garbage trucks honking horns on their behalf?

    • MarkD says:

      well, (even) the whole NPI saga of the last 15m or so was/is based on the mantras “don’t wait for (perfect) evidence” (i.e. ‘do what I think works, question later maybe’) and “it’d be unethical (to look for such evidence) … then again ‘do what I think is right'” – e.g. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/10/act-now-wait-perfect-evidence-later-says-high-priestess-uk-covid-19-masking-campaign

      “Greenhalgh is a firm believer in evidence-based medicine. She wrote a best-selling book on the topic, and her research has earned some of her nation’s highest honors. But in recent years, she has grown critical of what she believes is the privileging of randomized controlled studies over clinical experience and close observation. COVID-19, she argues, has revealed the limits of evidence-based medicine—masks being a potent case in point.”

      note the ‘high priestess’ there, on same tune of the story here, and BTW vaccines were represented like god’s gift back around last christmas e.g. in DE.
      So Raoult’s (and others) argument mirrors/mocks Greenhalgh’s (and others).

      I was glad to learn earlier in ’20 that, in the end, cheap good old aspirin – and not advocated by any political side – might beat even costly exotic drugs …

    • MarkD says:

      seems it did backfire, indeed …

      https://scienceintegritydigest.com/2021/06/02/concerns-about-marseilles-ihumi-amu-papers-part-1/

      and that’s just part 1 of ? – perhaps the group will need to go back through their stuff and try to clarify quite a few points

  2. I think this may have something to do with the French legal system. It reminds me of the case of “criminal libel” that Karin Calvo-Goller intitiated against Joseph Weiler for publishing a negative book review. She was unsuccessful, as was only reasonable. But there seemed to be no way to spare Weiler the inconvenience of having to defend himself against the (nonsensical) charge.

  3. a says:

    Those that read Dr Raoult’s work will realize he is not a “political personality” nor a hack.

    Early on, his patients in Marseille were surviving where the patients of many others were not surviving. I concur that the sound methods should apply to figure out why, but care should be given to allay Dr Raoult’s concerns lest the matter end up in the category of “the methodology was a great success, unfortunately the patient died”.

    • Andrew says:

      A:

      It cannot possibly be a good idea to sue Elisabeth Bik for asking questions about a controversial study. I’m all for allaying people’s concerns, but if allaying someone concerns implies remaining silent or being at risk of being sued, then that’s a problem.

      To put it another way: Bik’s actions do not at all stand in the way of studying why Raoult’s patients were surviving. Raoult’s lawsuit, however, does stand in the way of studying such things.

      • a says:

        I concur with your statement. Just wanted to offer my guess that Dr Raoult probably didn’t want to go the legal route, but perhaps felt forced to for other reasons.

  4. camus says:

    we have witnessed an intense campaign against any early treatment –

    this is why early treatment supporters, like Raoult and many others, have been bullied or silenced using all sorts of pressures.

    this campaign is part of a succesfull marketing plan that aims at selling vaccines to every single human being.

    Ms Bik is only one good soldiar working extra hours trying to demonize the doctors.

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