JAMA journals pull 3 papers by same authors for misconduct

JAMAJAMA and another journal in its network have retracted three 2005 papers about preventing hip fractures, after an admission of scientific misconduct. 

All papers are being retracted over concerns about data integrity, and “inappropriate assignment of authorship.” Four of the authors — all based in Japan — have co-authored all of the three newly retracted papers, and also share authorship of a previous retraction from 2015

The JAMA paper was tagged with an Expression of Concern last year, regarding the “conduct, integrity, and scientific validity” of the paper. 

Here’s the retraction notice for the JAMA paper, “Effect of Folate and Mecobalamin on Hip Fractures in Patients With Stroke:”

In reaffirming our previous Expression of Concern,1 the article “Effect of Folate and Mecobalamin on Hip Fractures in Patients With Stroke: A Randomized Controlled Trial” by Sato et al2 has been retracted due to acknowledgment of scientific misconduct resulting in concerns regarding data integrity and inappropriate assignment of authorship.

The paper, which considered whether two different types of vitamin B could prevent broken hips in stroke sufferers, has been cited 174 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science

The corresponding author is Yoshihiro Sato, listed at Mitate Hospital. The paper includes this note:

Author Contributions: Dr Sato had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

In the paper, the authors found that taking B vitamins offered significant protection against hip fractures, according to a press release from 2005:

The researchers recorded six hip fractures in patients who received folic acid and B12, and 27 hip fractures in the placebo group. The difference in total number of fractures over the two-year follow up was significant, with eight fractures in the treatment group and 32 in the placebo group. Patients receiving folic acid and B12 experienced a 38 percent decrease in their plasma homocysteine levels, while levels increased by 31 percent in the placebo group.

Next, here’s the retraction notice for “Risedronate Sodium Therapy for Prevention of Hip Fracture in Men 65 Years or Older After Stroke” from JAMA Internal Medicine (formerly known as Archives of Internal Medicine), which has so far been cited 89 times:

The following article, Sato Y, Iwamoto J, Kanoko T, Satoh K. Risedronate sodium therapy for prevention of hip fracture in men 65 years or older after stroke. Arch Intern Med. 2005;165(15):1743-1748,1 has been retracted due to acknowledgment of scientific misconduct resulting in concerns about data integrity and inappropriate assignment of authorship.

Finally, here’s the retraction notice for “The Prevention of Hip Fracture With Risedronate and Ergocalciferol Plus Calcium Supplementation in Elderly Women With Alzheimer Disease,” which has so far accumulated 33 citations:

The following article, Sato Y, Kanoko T, Satoh K, Iwamoto J. The prevention of hip fracture with risedronate and ergocalciferol plus calcium supplementation in elderly women with Alzheimer disease: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2005;165(15):1737-1742,1 has been retracted due to acknowledgment of scientific misconduct resulting in concerns about data integrity and inappropriate assignment of authorship.

JAMA said it would have nothing to add to the retraction notices.

In May 2015, JAMA issued an expression of concern for the now-retracted paper, which reads:

Several concerns have been raised about the study conduct, integrity, and scientific validity involving an article published in JAMA by Dr Sato et al. After communicating these concerns to the author and evaluating his response, we have contacted administrative officials at the author’s institution and requested that they conduct an investigation to evaluate the scientific integrity of the research and the validity of the reported study results. This notice of concern is to inform readers about these possible issues related to this article. After additional information from this investigation becomes available, we will determine whether additional action is warranted.

At the time, Howard Bauchner, editor-in-chief of JAMA based at Boston University School of Medicine and Public Health, told us:

We received an allegation of possible data manipulation approximately 15-18 months ago. We conducted an internal assessment and thought that the concerns that were raised warranted contacting the author. We did receive a response from the author, but felt it was not sufficient to dismiss the allegations. We then contacted the author’ institution, and have requested a formal investigation.

The amount of time and effort invested in this case has been substantial. But as you well know data manipulation is a serious allegation and has to be investigated with great care.

The individual who raised the issues also raised issues about publications by this author in other journals. I have urged this individual on a number of occasions to also contact those journals, but to my knowledge, I have not been informed about whether this has occurred.

The authors corrected the JAMA paper in 2006:

We apologize to the readers of JAMA for an incorrect statement that we made in our article on the effect of folate and mecobalamin on hip fractures in patients with stroke. We inaccurately stated that the study was performed in a single hospital (Futase Social Insurance Hospital). There were actually 3 additional collaborating hospitals, studying 205, 211, and 159 patients, respectively. The remaining 53 patients were from Futase Social Insurance Hospital, for a total of 628 patients.

We regret any confusion that may have arisen over this misleading statement.

Last year, the same authors — Yoshihiro Sato, Jun Iwamoto, Tomohiro Kanoko and Kei Satoh — lost another paper in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. That paper had also been subject to an Expression of Concern, over potential duplication of text; the publisher told us in 2015 that the duplicated text sparked a closer look at the paper, which raised concerns about its scientific integrity. It was ultimately retracted, with Sato taking responsibility:

The retraction has been agreed due to duplication of text and concerns about the underlying data to which the authors have given no satisfactory response. Dr. Sato acknowledges that his co-authors are named as such for honorary reasons and are not responsible for the content of the manuscript.

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2 thoughts on “JAMA journals pull 3 papers by same authors for misconduct”

  1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mds.26699/abstract

    Retraction: ‘Alendronate and vitamin D2 for prevention of hip fracture in Parkinson’s disease: A randomized controlled trial,’ by Sato, Y., Iwamoto, J., Kanoko, T., and Satoh, K.
    Version of Record online: 6 JUN 2016
    DOI: 10.1002/mds.26699

    “The above article, published online on 14 March 2006 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), and in Volume 21, Issue 7, Pages 924–929, has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the Editor-in-Chief, Jose A. Obeso, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed due to an acknowledgement from the authors that the co-authors did not participate in study design, data collection, data analysis, interpretation of data and drafting the manuscript. Thus all co-authors are honorary.”

    Sato, Y., Iwamoto, J., Kanoko, T., and Satoh, K. (2006) Alendronate and vitamin D2 for prevention of hip fracture in Parkinson’s disease: A randomized controlled trial. Mov Disord. doi: 10.1002/mds.20825

    If all authors are honorary, then where did the data come from?

  2. Dear Retraction Watch Team, Thank you very much for reporting about the retraction of several papers published by Sato. We would like to point your attention to our letter to the editor published in 2007. Here, we already raised our concerns about the validity and integrity of Sato’s trials on risedronate (Halbekath JM, Schenk S, von Maxen A, Meyer G, Mühlhauser I. Risedronate for the prevention of hip fractures: concern about validity of trials. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Mar 12;167(5):513-4; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17353501).
    The reply by Sato in the journal did not contribute to the clarification of our concerns and even led to more confusion and concerns.
    Gabriele Meyer & Ingrid Mühlhauser

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