New England Journal of Medicine Retracts COVID-19 Study

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The New England Journal of Medicine has retracted one of the articles cited in the June Kidney News article, “Evidence Mounts that RAS-Blocking Medications Pose No Danger to COVID-19.”

The Kidney News article described this retracted article as “a database study of 8910 [COVID-19] patients who had been hospitalized in 11 countries on three continents. That study found that neither ACE inhibitors nor ARBs were associated with an increased risk of in-hospital death.”

The retraction of this one article does not materially affect the KN article’s conclusion citing an expert consensus that patients on blood pressure medications that block the renin-angiotensin system should continue taking these drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic unless otherwise instructed by a physician.

The study’s authors wrote that the retraction was necessary, stating that “because all the authors were not granted access to the raw data and the raw data could not be made available to a third-party auditor, we are unable to validate the primary data sources underlying our article.”

The Lancet also retracted a paper from the same lead author, Mandeep R. Mehra, MD. The Lancet paper received a great deal of attention because it found no benefit in the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to treat COVID-19.

In both cases, the problems related to the use of a database provided by Surgisphere Corp. Surgisphere declined to release the full dataset to independent peer reviewers because a transfer “would violate client agreements and confidentiality requirement,” according to the retraction statement in the Lancet.

“I did not do enough to ensure that the data source was appropriate for this use,” Mehra said in a statement apologizing for the “disruptions” the papers caused.