Roundup: A new record? And paper retracts story about Canadian Paxil researcher-turned pol Kutcher

We’ve both been at conferences — Adam at the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists in Savannah, and Ivan at the Council of Science Editors in Baltimore, where he’ll be on a panel today about finding fraud — so we haven’t had a lot of time to run down retractions. But there were a few retraction-related developments in the past few days that we wanted to highlight for Retraction Watch readers:

First, another great investigation by The Cancer Letter and The New York Times, this one into the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP) run by Claudia Henschke and David Yankelevitz. The design and conclusions of that trial has been criticized by other pulmonologists.

The new investigation, however, reveals that an October 2008 review of the study found that the researchers couldn’t find 90 percent of the subjects’ consent forms. That, The Cancer Letter notes, could mean a huge number of retractions that could displace Joachim Boldt as the current record holder:

The rules of an organization of premier medical journals state that retractions should be considered when editors believe that they published “unethical research.” The rules are posted at

The papers submitted by I-ELCAP had to rely on representations of the investigators that consent had been obtained, Henschke said.

“All site investigators were responsible for obtaining the consents locally and for following their local IRB process,” she said. “We followed all the processes required by the IRB for the pooling effort and for its reporting. Our only requirement is to rely on their representation.”

If it’s true that consent cannot be documented, as the review committee report states and as Henschke readily acknowledges, the volume of retractions could be record-setting. PubMed lists 135 papers co-authored by Henschke and Yankelevitz.

Do give the whole issue — which The Cancer Letter has made free — for far more details. The Cancer Letter, you will recall, is the outlet that broke the Anil Potti case by revealing that he had lied about being a Rhodes Scholar on a grant application. (If you’ve been following that story, you’ll want to read this story by the Duke Chronicle about the fact that Potti has hired an online reputation manager to push those misconduct and retraction results downward on Google searches.)

Second, a story that manages to involve a study that several people say should be retracted, a retracted newspaper story, and a politician running for office in today’s Canadian elections.

As Alison Bass reports, last week, The Coast newspaper in Halifax reported that Stan Kutcher, who is seeking to be a member of Canada’s parliament, was a co-author of Paxil study 329. That study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry in 2001, has come under fire, most recently from two academics who say it should be retracted because its claims of efficacy were based on just 15% of the data.

But after Kutcher threatened to sue The Coast if the paper didn’t retract the story, the paper caved, pulling the story from its site. You can still read the story here.

Read Bass’s post for more details. We’re sure she’ll be following up, as will we. At the very least, we should know sometime tonight whether Kutcher won his seat.

One thought on “Roundup: A new record? And paper retracts story about Canadian Paxil researcher-turned pol Kutcher”

  1. In the Canadian Federal Election of 2 May, the elected member of parliament in Halifax, Nova Scotia was Megan Leslie (New Democrat) with 25745 votes. Stan Kutcher (Liberal) was far behind, with 11791 votes. I guess he goes back to writing papers about Paxil.

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