Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘nejm retractions’ Category

Big corrections usually weaken findings. But a recent NEJM one strengthened them, author says

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A 2016 study in New England Journal of Medicine has received a substantial correction, which affected several aspects of the article.

Typically, an error that affects so much of a paper would undermine the results (and possibly lead to a retraction). But in this case, the revised dose calculations actually strengthened the findings, according to the first author.

The NEJM study aimed to clarify whether patients with a neuromuscular disease called myasthenia gravis benefit from a surgical procedure to remove the thymus. About half of the patients received surgery plus the steroid prednisone, while the rest only received the steroid. The researchers found patients who received the surgery fared better.

Shortly after the paper was published in August 2016, the authors discovered an error in the calculation of the average prednisone dose. According to Gil Wolfe, the first author of the paper, when the researchers corrected the error: Read the rest of this entry »

NEJM issues unusual warning for readers about 1980 letter on opioid addiction

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This week, the New England Journal of Medicine issued a type of editor’s note we’ve never seen before, on a highly influential letter published nearly 40 years ago.

Above the one-paragraph letter, which reports data suggesting pain medications are not likely to cause addiction, the journal has added a note warning readers that the letter has been “heavily and uncritically cited” by sources using it to suggest opioids are not addictive.

In essence, the journal isn’t commenting on the merits of the letter — the problem is how it’s been used by others.

The same issue of the journal includes a letter by researchers based in Canada who analyzed how the 1980 letter had been cited, noting:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 2nd, 2017 at 8:00 am

How should journals update papers when new findings come out?

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When authors get new data that revise a previous report, what should they do?

In the case of a 2015 lung cancer drug study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the journal published a letter to the editor with the updated findings.

Shortly after the paper was published, a pharmaceutical company released new data showing the drug wasn’t quite as effective as it had seemed. Once the authors included the new data in their analysis, they adjusted their original response rate of 59%  — hailed as one of a few “encouraging results” in an NEJM editorial at the time of publication — to 45%, as they write in the letter. One of the authors told us they published the 2015 paper using less “mature” data because the drug’s benefits appeared so promising, raising questions about when to publish “exciting but still evolving data.”

It’s not a correction, as the original paper has not been changed; it doesn’t even contain a flag that it’s been updated. But among the online letters about the paper is one from the authors, “Update to Rociletinib Data with the RECIST Confirmed Response Rate,” which provides the new data and backstory:

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NEJM quickly corrects disclosure statement, errors in diabetes paper

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NEJM LogoAfter publishing a paper about neuropathy in diabetic patients last week, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) immediately corrected it after editors learned of errors and some missing disclosures within the article.

The notice explains that the sole author of the paper, “Diabetic Sensory and Motor Neuropathy,” reported incorrect doses for several medications, and received royalties for the tool to measure quality of life used in the paper. The author told us all the declarations were “discussed in detail” between him and the journal, and both parties agreed to the final decision. 

Let’s take a look at the lengthy correction notice — what some of our readers might call a “mega-correction:” Read the rest of this entry »

Upon request, NEJM added note to help Texas distance itself from Planned Parenthood article

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Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.41.39 PM

The New England Journal of Medicine added a disclaimer to a recent article about the effects of funding cuts to Planned Parenthood, after a request from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, saying it wanted to distance itself from the paper.

Since the paper was published in February, one author has stepped down from his position at HHSC after facing disciplinary action.

The article suggested that birth rates among a group of lower-income women increased after the state cut down on support for Planned Parenthood. It drew a significant amount of media attention — and concern from the HHSC, which asked the journal to add a disclaimer to the article soon after publication. The journal complied, but embargoed the announcement of the change until 5 p.m. eastern time today.

Here’s the disclaimer that NEJM added to the article:

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NEJM: No plan to clarify wording that led to allegations of breached confidentiality

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NEJMThe New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has no plans to change the wording of an article that led to allegations of breached patient confidentiality and caused a minor social media firestorm this past weekend, the journal told Retraction Watch.

The paragraph in question appeared in an essay by Lisa Rosenbaum chronicling the history of power morcellation, a technique to remove gynecological organs that the FDA has subjected to a “black box warning” because it can also spread tumors: Read the rest of this entry »

NEJM corrects 3 papers after prominent cancer scientist left off credit for breakthrough

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Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 12.04.43 PMThe New England Journal of Medicine has corrected three highly cited papers to credit researchers who played a role in the work.

The papers describe a treatment in which engineered T cells fight leukemia, originally hailed as a “major advance” in the New York Times. Since the first paper appeared in 2011, co-author Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania has received more than $7 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health, according to MIT Technology Review. But according to a newly published correction, the three NEJM papers failed to note in the acknowledgement section that an important component of the experiments was supplied by researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The correction, made 11 months after a request from co-author and Penn researcher David Porter, explains the contribution of the St Jude’s researchers:

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Top journals give mixed response to learning published trials didn’t proceed as planned

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Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre has been a busy man. In the last six weeks, the author and medical doctor’s Compare Project has evaluated 67 clinical trials published in the top five medical journals, looking for any “switched outcomes,” meaning the authors didn’t report something they said they would, or included additional outcomes in the published paper, with no explanation for the change. The vast majority – 58 – included such discrepancies. Goldacre talked to us about how journals – New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), JAMA, The Lancet, BMJ, and Annals of Internal Medicine — have responded to this feedback.

Retraction Watch: When you discover a published trial has switched outcomes, what do you do? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

February 26th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Should there be “data authors?” Q&A with NEJM editor Jeffrey Drazen

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Jeffrey Drazen ©2011 Jon Chomitz Photography 3 Prescott street, Somerville, MA 02143 617.625.6789

Jeffrey Drazen ©2011 Jon Chomitz Photography

Would designating a set of authors as responsible for data production – separate from those who conduct the analysis – help boost the reliability of papers? That’s a question raised by the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Jeffrey Drazen. Along with many other editors of top medical journals, Drazen recently signed a proposal by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors to require authors of clinical trials to share anonymous patient data within six months of publication. He talked to us about another way to make trials more robust: Create “data authors.”

Retraction Watch: What has been the reaction so far to ICMJE’s data sharing proposal? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

February 9th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Did a clinical trial proceed as planned? New project finds out

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Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre

A new project does the relatively straightforward task of comparing reported outcomes from clinical trials to what the researchers said they planned to measure before the trial began. And what they’ve found is a bit sad, albeit not entirely surprising.

As part of The Compare Project, author and medical doctor Ben Goldacre and his team have so far evaluated 36 clinical trials published by the top five medical journals (New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, and British Medical Journal). Many of those trials included “switched outcomes,” meaning the authors didn’t report something they said they would, or included additional outcomes in the published paper, with no explanation for the change.

Here are the latest results from the project, according to its website:

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Written by Alison McCook

December 4th, 2015 at 9:30 am