Coronavirus: Authors retract hydroxychloroquine study that raised safety fears

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Three of the authors of an influential article that found hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients retracted the study on Thursday, citing concerns about the quality of the data behind it.

The anti-malarial drug has been controversial in part due to support from US President Donald Trump, as well as implications of the study published in British medical journal the Lancet last month.

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The study’s authors said Surgisphere, the company that provided the data, would not transfer the full dataset for an independent review and that they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”

Surgisphere was not immediately available for comment.

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The Lancet in a statement said “there are many outstanding questions about Surgisphere and the data that were allegedly included in this study.”

The latest incident comes as a group of conservative US doctors has sued the Food and Drug Administration for limiting use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, arguing that the therapy should be made widely available to fight the pandemic.

The lawsuit represents the latest front in a highly politicized US debate over access to hydroxychloroquine. The drug has been championed by President Donald Trump as a potential “game-changer” against the coronavirus, but its value has yet to be established. A clinical trial released on Wednesday found it to be ineffective in preventing infection.

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