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Crisis at the Nordic Cochrane Centre

This could be it for the Nordic Cochrane Centre.

“I regret to inform you that I have been expelled from membership in the Cochrane Collaboration by the favourable vote of 6 of the 13 members of the Governing Board. No clear reasoned justification has been given for my expulsion aside from accusing me of causing “disrepute” for the organization.”

Peter Gøtzsche on A moral governance crisis: the growing lack of democratic collaboration and scientific pluralism in Cochrane

Or at least for Peter Gøtzsche and his association with the Cochrane Collaboration, which he co-founded in 1993.

I’m not sure how he thinks that there was no clear justification for his being expelled though.

Crisis at the Nordic Cochrane Centre

Most folks understand why Peter Gøtzsche was expelled from the Cochrane Collaboration…

They remember that he recently published a poorly done analysis in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, The Cochrane HPV vaccine review was incomplete and ignored important evidence of bias that was critical of a Cochrane Review on the HPV vaccine, Prophylactic vaccination against human papillomaviruses to prevent cervical cancer and its precursors, which concluded that the HPV vaccines work and that they are safe.

While Gøtzsche’s analysis prompted the Cochrane Collaboration to initiate an investigation, they concluded that his analysis “substantially overstated its criticisms” and that the allegations were “not warranted and provided an inaccurate and sensationalized report of their analysis.”

Is that it?


Many people are also familiar with the Nordic Cochrane Centre because of their involvement in continued complaints about the HPV vaccine. Complaints that were not approved by the Cochrane Collaboration and that were not an official Cochrane viewpoint!

“…we highlight here how academic colleagues, under the purported banner of a respected authority, raise concerns about the HPV vaccine but they cite an evidence base of small and poor quality studies and ignore the extensive wealth of global literature that vividly demonstrate the excellent efficacy and safety record of the vaccine.”

Head et al on Inadvisable anti-vaccination sentiment: Human Papilloma Virus immunisation falsely under the microscope

Complaints that had already been investigated and dismissed by the European Medicines Agency and refuted by many other studies.

“This week at its meeting in Edinburgh, Cochrane’s Governing Board considered, as planned, the findings of an independent review and additional complaints related to the conduct of a Member. The Board’s conclusion was communicated to the individual concerned and is part of an ongoing process. The Co-Chairs of the Board will provide further details once this process is complete.

Following this, four Board members (Gerald Gartlehner, David Hammerstein Mintz, Joerg Meerpohl and Nancy Santesso) decided to resign as Cochrane trustees with immediate effect.”

Message from the Governing Board

Unfortunately, Gøtzsche’s being expelled led to others leaving the Cochrane Governing Board, including two appointed trustees who volunteered to step down to to comply with Cochrane’s Articles of Association.

Although they may not have been defending Gøtzsche's opinions or behaviors, four other board members resigned in solidarity.
Although they may not have been defending Gøtzsche’s opinions or behaviors, four other board members resigned in solidarity.

We can hope that this is the end of the matter, as Cochrane will soon have an election for new board members.

Peter Gøtzsche is out at the Cochrane Collaboration.
Peter Gøtzsche is out at the Cochrane Collaboration.

Will he be kept on at the Nordic Cochrane Centre, which he founded? Will the Nordic Cochrane Centre be allowed to keep ‘Cochrane’ in their name?

The Nordic Cochrane Centre is primarily funded by the Danish Government, and what do they get besides all of the anti-HPV vaccine stuff?

“Antidepressant drugs are another major killer that people could do well without.”

Peter C Gøtzsche: Prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death

Peter Gøtzsche seems to be against cancer screening, psychiatric drugs, and thinks that Big Pharma has corrupted health care. Is that the “plurality of opinions, views, and perspectives” that folks want at Cochrane or anywhere else in medicine?

Unfortunately, I bet this isn’t the last that we have heard from him.

More on the Crisis at the Nordic Cochrane Centre

1 thought on “Crisis at the Nordic Cochrane Centre”

  1. This is not the end of the matter at all. This may be the end of Cochrane. If it survives, all its credibility is gone. Dr. Gotzsche was a co-founder. More than anyone still at Cochrane, he represented its values. He was never a member of the board until 2017, preferring to stay out of politics. But he and others were increasingly upset at Cochrane’s direction. They were upset with Cochrane cozying up to industry and sacrificing impartiality. So Gotzsche ran for a board position and received more votes from Cochrane members than any other board member. Cochrane has been going downhill for years. Reviews are increasingly sloppy, with more conflicts of interest for authors. Many members had resigned. The US arm of Cochrane closed its doors in Februrary, no longer willing to be associated with Cochrane due to its direction. This is an industry coup d’etat, and removal of Gotzsche was the main front in this war for industry. They have won this battle, but they might find they lost the war. 3 of the 4 board members who resigned in protest were heads of major Cochrane centers. Those centers may follow the US center and leave Cochrane entirely. That’s 4 heads of centers and possibly 4 major centers lost all at once. Independent reviewers are likely to follow suit.

    As I noted on that previous post, your link supposedly showing that Nordic Cochrane Center’s analysis was poorly done is laughable. Your post included hardly any actual critique of their analysis. Nearly all of their points went unaddressed. Instead, your post was mainly based on logical fallacies. Unsurprisingly, Cochrane itself did not respond to much of Nordic Cochrane’s analysis, choosing instead to start a petty fight over whether Gotzsche was misusing Cochrane’s name. A fight they ultimately lost because it was absurd. They intended to use that fight as a pretext to remove Gotzsche, but when they lost it, they instead removed him without any stated reason (other than the vague and absurd claim of bringing “disrepute” to Cochrane). The reason will take some months to make up, and they promise us they will provide it then. I can’t wait.

    As for your description of Gotzsche, he is not against cancer screening. He is in favor of evidence based medicine. And he advises against most cancer screening because the data show that most cancer screening is harmful. That is indisputable. The same is true of psychiatric drugs. You would do yourself a big favor to familiarize yourself with his arguments instead of embarassing yourself. And anyone in medicine who does not think Big Pharma has corrupted healthcare needs to do some serious soul searching. That ship sailed a long time ago. If you cannot see the obvious problems, you should not be trusted to speak on this issue at all. That is such an out-there claim at this point that it defies belief.

    The reason Gotzsche says antidepressants are a major killer and patients can do without them is that is what the data say. The drugs are only very marginally effective even if you trust the ridiculously biased trials. 1 in 10 patients benefits from them. But it gets even more absurd. Because the clinical trial data doesn’t even show that 1 in 10 benefit over placebo. It shows that the average patient gets better one week faster on drug than placebo. But if you wait one more week, the placebo patients are on average just as well. That’s devastating for the idea that these drugs work. And Gotzsche says these drugs are a major killer because that’s what the data say. There have been very few studies that look at mortality on psychiatric drugs, but one very high quality study found an excess death rate in those over age 65 of 3% on antidepressants. I think the study period was one year. And the reason is that these drugs cause falls that lead to hip fractures. They cause heart arrythmias. And who knows what else that is not detected/reported in the RCT trials. We know they cause an increase in suicides, though just how much is hard to know because the data has been manipulated and reported fraudulently in such a systematic way.

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