“A scandal has erupted within the Cochrane Collaboration, the world’s most prestigious scientific organisation devoted to independent reviews of health care interventions. One of its highest profile board members has been sacked, resulting in four other board members staging a mass exodus.”
Maryanne Demasi, PhD on Cochrane – A sinking ship?
Who is Maryanne Demasi?
“DISCLOSURE: Maryanne Demasi is a science reporter and a researcher working with Prof Peter C. Gøtzsche, the Nordic Cochrane Centre, and was present in Edinburgh at the time of the meeting, but not present in the discussion room.”
Someone who works with Peter Gøtzsche is defending him. That doesn’t sound too surprising.
It is also not surprising the way that some folks are describing Peter Gøtzsche’s expulsion, saying that it was only about his behavior and not his work.
But the problem wasn’t that he wrote a critique of a Cochrane HPV meta-analsysis, but that his critique was so poorly done!
“I think it’s a hatchet job by people with several axes to grind, that needed better editorial peer review. I would be surprised if Cochrane’s investigation and update resulted in changed conclusions.”
Hilda Bastian on The HPV Vaccine: A Critique of a Critique of a Meta-Analysis
A hatchet job by people with several axes to grind…
Not the kind of work you would expect from a member of the Governing Board of the Cochrane Collaboration, especially after most of the same charges were refuted when they were made against the European Medicines Agency.
And it wasn’t even the first time that he was accused of harming the Cochrane Collaboration .
“Cochrane wishes to state unequivocally that the views Professor Gøtzsche has expressed on the benefits and harms of psychiatric drugs are not those of the organization. As primarily a research organization Cochrane does not make clinical recommendations and we have not done so on this issue.”
Statement from Cochrane
How many times has the Cochrane Collaboration had to distance itself from the views of its Board Members?
How many times has the Cochrane Collaboration had to distance itself from the views and work of Peter Gøtzsche and the Nordic Cochrane Collaboration?
“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.
We can hope that this is the end of the matter, as Cochrane will soon have an election for new board members.
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.