Here's how science works:Gang of Babbitts Take Over Cochrane Collaboration and Expel Founding Member
[The expulsion prompted four other board members to resign in protest]
One of the medical world’s most respected expert bodies is in turmoil as its annual meeting gets underway in Edinburgh, Scotland, after its governing board voted to expel a member.
The Cochrane Collaboration, which reviews the scientific literature in areas of clinical research and produces widely cited analyses that help guide clinical practice, kicked out a member who has been an outspoken critic of certain vaccines and has blasted the profession of psychiatry for pushing unsafe drugs on unsuspecting patients.
The expulsion of Peter Gøtzsche sparked accusations that the Collaboration is too friendly toward the drug industry. Four other members of the organization’s governing board resigned in response, citing concerns that the action “goes against Cochrane ethos.”
The vote appears to have been 6 of 13 in favor of the move, according to statements from the board members who resigned and Gøtzsche — short of a majority but enough to pass because only 11 voted.
“This unprecedented action taken by a minority of the Governing Board is disproportionate and damaging to Cochrane, as well as to public health interests,” Gøtzsche said in a letter he circulated on Friday.
The Collaboration posted a statement on its website Saturday, saying, “Cochrane’s Governing Board considered, as planned, the findings of an independent review and additional complaints related to the conduct of a Member.” The complaints were not specified, but the statement said the board’s co-chairs will provide more details “once this process is complete.”
In a longer response posted Monday, Cochrane’s governing board said that it finds itself in “an extraordinary situation” and that the four board members who resigned “actively disseminated an incomplete and misleading account of events.”
The decision, the board said, “is not about freedom of speech. It is not about scientific debate. It is not about tolerance of dissent. It is not about someone being unable to criticize a Cochrane Review.”
Instead, the board said, “It is about a long-term pattern of behaviour that we say is totally, and utterly, at variance with the principles and governance of the Cochrane Collaboration.” Although the board did not describe the behavior, the pattern, it claimed, dated back to complaints since 2003, and included three new complaints in March of this year. “All our staff, and our members, have the right to do their work without harassment and personal attacks,” the statement said.
Gøtzsche, the director of the Nordic Cochrane Center, in Copenhagen, Denmark, has cast doubts about the safety of a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), a cause of cervical cancer, and says psychiatry has “gone astray” by coercing patients into taking medication, such as antidepressants, they don’t want to use and that cause “brain damage” over the long run. “The way these drugs are used today cause[s] more harm than good. So it would be better for us if the drugs didn’t exist.”
Gøtzsche, Cochrane member Tom Jefferson, and another colleague ruffled feathers at Cochrane with a July 2018 article that criticized a recent paper from the Collaboration on the safety of the HPV vaccine. The paper prompted a rebuttal from Cochrane that dismissed the concerns and stood behind the original findings.
Hilda Bastian, a founding member of the Cochrane Collaboration and an influential writer about science, called the review “a manufactured controversy — a hatchet job by people with such strong intellectual and ideological biases, that they didn’t even pick up that some of their most implausible allegations were based on their own analytical and investigative slip-ups.”
Complaints about the review that Gotzsche co-authored came late in the process, according to the board’s Monday statement, and were not the initial trigger of the investigation.
As of now, the board said, Gotzsche remains a member of the organization. He was given seven days to respond to the board’s vote. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment from STAT and Retraction Watch.
Gøtzsche, who was elected to the group’s board of governors in 2017, blamed the vote on his stance on the drug industry. “As most people know, much of my work is not very favourable to the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry. Because of this Cochrane has faced pressure, criticism and complaints. My expulsion is one of the results of these campaigns.”
Jefferson, speaking from a reception at the Edinburgh meeting, told Retraction Watch and STAT that people he’s spoken to are outraged. “I’ve been in Cochrane 25 years, this is not how we do things,” he said. “Peter Gotzsche was a democratically elected member of the board. It’s really unheard of.”
At least one prominent scientist expressed alarm that the move to jettison Gøtzsche was an assault on free speech. John Ioannidis, of Stanford University, said he is “disturbed” by Gøtzsche’s expulsion and stressed the importance of heterodox views in science.
“I adore Peter for his courage and I highly value his major contributions to evidence-based medicine … even if I don’t agree with all of Peter’s views and inferences,” Ioannidis wrote Sunday in an email to a group of more than 100 experts in evidence-based medicine. “I think it is important to make sure that people who disagree with us will get the most opportunity to express and support their views with arguments and evidence and, of course, not get expelled.”
But at least one other expert defended Cochrane. Allen Frances, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Duke University, in Durham, N.C., dismissed the notion that Gøtzsche was being unfairly muzzled.
“This has nothing to do with freedom of speech,” Frances wrote in the thread that included Ioannidis. Rather, he said, Cochrane is justifiably concerned about remaining an “impartial evaluator of evidence” and providing reliable information to doctors and their patients.
“At least in psychiatry, Peter is anything but impartial,” Frances wrote. “He consistently expresses the most extreme views in the most dramatic and misleading way. His role at Cochrane lends its legitimacy to opinions that are dangerous to patients with severe mental illness. As an individual, Peter has total freedom to express extreme opinions, but he has no inherent right to cloak them with Cochrane’s hard won mantle of neutrality.”
The four board members who resigned in the wake of the vote said in a statement Saturday that “the expulsion of inconvenient members from the Collaboration goes against Cochrane ethos and neither reflects its founding spirit nor promotes the Collaboration’s best interests. We are concerned that these actions might cause great damage to the reputation of the Collaboration.”
In its own statement, the governing board said that two other members had resigned because the “situation required further changes in the composition of the Board in order to comply with Cochrane’s Articles of Association.” Neither of the board’s co-chairs immediately responded to requests for comment.
“There appears to be no confidence in the management board at this point,” Jefferson said. “I think the only honorable thing for the rest of the board to do is resign.”
This story has been updated with a statement from Cochrane’s governing board. The story is a collaboration between STAT and Retraction Watch.
This story was originally published by STAT, an online publication of Boston Globe Media that covers health, medicine, and scientific discovery.https://www.kqed.org/futureofyou/444488 ... ical-group
Peter C. Gøtzsche (born November 26, 1949) is a Danish physician, medical researcher, and former leader of the Nordic Cochrane Center at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration and has written numerous reviews for the organization. His membership of Cochrane was terminated by its Governing Board of Trustees on September 25, 2018.
After completing the gymnasium Gøtzsche studied science graduating as Master of Science in biology and chemistry in 1974. He worked briefly as a teacher. In 1975 he took a job in the pharmaceutical industry as a drug representative for Astra AB; several months later he became a product manager. In 1977 Gøtzsche took a position at Astra-Syntex and was responsible for clinical trials. While at Astra-Syntex he started to study medicine and graduated as a physician in 1984. He worked at hospitals in Copenhagen 1984-95. He co-founded with Sir Iain Chalmers and about 80 other investigators The Cochrane Collaboration in 1993. The same year he established The Nordic Cochrane Centre. In 2010, Gøtzsche was named Professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis at the University of Copenhagen. In 2017, he was elected a member of the Governing Board of Cochrane.Research and reviews
Among his research findings are that placebo has surprisingly little effect and that many meta-analyses may have data extraction errors. Gøtzsche and his coauthors have at times criticized the research methods and interpretations of other scientists, e.g. in meta-analysis of placebo.
Gøtzsche has commented on meta-analysis, and the editorial independence of medical journals. He has written about issues surrounding medical ghostwriting with the position that it is scientific misconduct. He has also criticized the widespread use of SSRI antidepressants. Critique of reviews of HPV vaccine
At the behest of the Danish Health and Medicines Authorities the European Medicines Agency (EMA) was charged to review data in women concerning use of HPV vaccines and the possible development of rare side effects, namely Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). EMA's review was issued in November 2015 and found no causal relationship. Louise Brinth, a Danish physician who had published observational studies on POTS, subsequently critiqued the EMA review in a detailed rebuttal. Gøtzsche supported her and issued a formal complaint to the EMA criticizing their report in May 2018.
Gøtzsche et al. also found faults with a 2018 Cochrane review of the HPV vaccine. The review had judged the vaccine as effective and did not find an increased risk of serious adverse effects.
Expulsion from Cochrane
Gøtzsche who had been elected to the Governing Board in 2017 was expelled from the Board and the organization after a 6 to 5 vote of the 13-member board at the annual meeting at Edinburgh, Scotland in September 2018. The Board announced the step on September 26 expelling Gøtzsche because of an "ongoing, consistent pattern of disruptive and inappropriate behaviours ..., taking place over a number of years, which undermined this culture and were detrimental to the charity’s work, reputation and members." The Board had also commissioned a legal review of his activities in the context of his relationship to Cochrane and found transgressions.
Gøtzsche, critical of big pharma and its influence on medicine, expressed concern about "growing top-down authoritarian culture and an increasingly commercial business model” at Cochrane that "threaten the scientific, moral and social objectives of the organization.”" He stated that "Cochrane no longer lives up to its core values of collaboration, openness, transparency, accountability, democracy and keeping the drug industry at arm’s length." After the expulsion, four members of the Board resigned and two had to leave to restore a balance between appointed and elected members throwing the organization into turmoil.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_C._G%C3%B8tzsche
Prof. Peter Gotzsche talks about EMA HPV vaccine Safety Review at IFICA, Dublin, 21/04/2018
Dr Peter Gøtzsche exposes big pharma as organized crime