Court orders journal to retract a paper after supplement seller sues

An Italian court has ordered a journal to retract a paper. But it hasn’t just yet.

Instead, the Journal of Ovarian Research has published an expression of concern about the 2012 paper, replete with obfuscating legal language.

Here’s the text:

Pursuant to a decree of the Tribunal of Catania, First Civil Section, LJ Pharma SRL obtained an ex Parte order. The Judge orders BioMed Central Ltd [the publisher], in the person of the legal representative pro tempore to implement the remedy of the retraction notice on the study, signed by Isabella and Raffone, “Does Ovary need d-chiro-inositol?”, published in 2012 in the specialized journal Journal of Ovarian Research.

A spokesperson for Springer Nature, which owns Biomed Central, confirmed the journal had received a court order regarding the paper. (We asked for a copy of the order, but haven’t received it.) However, the journal is not retracting it just yet:

BMC is conducting its own independent investigation into concerns raised in relation to this paper. In line with our editorial policies, we would normally have the option to post an Expression of Concern and bring the issue to the attention of the readership pending a final resolution….as we have done in this case, pending the outcomes of our investigation. We consider that the Expression of Concern is appropriate and consistent with the court’s requirements given that the matter is not yet final and is still being investigated.

The spokesperson told us the company is being represented by Giuseppe Donato Castiglione from Studio Legale Castiglione; we’ve called his office multiple times, but no one has answered.

The paper, “Does Ovary need d-chiro-inositol?” followed women with polycystic ovary syndrome who took a compound intended to improve their condition (and fertility)D-chiro-inositol, or DCI. It showed:

…increasing DCI dosage progressively worsens oocyte quality and ovarian response.

According to LJ Pharma SRL’s websitethe company appears to sell a product known as Chirofol, which contains DCI.

The 2012 paper has been cited 31 times.

An email to first author Rosalbino Isabella, based at the Clinical Institute of Sterility in Italy, bounced back.

LJ Pharma’s managing director is no stranger to legal action. In 2017, he took a couple to court after alleging they made defamatory remarks.

This also isn’t the first time a court has instructed a journal to take action. In an unrelated case, last year, a Spanish court instructed Elsevier to amend a retraction notice. The case was brought by the author of the paper, who objected to Elsevier’s original notice, which suggested the authors may have committed misconduct.

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4 thoughts on “Court orders journal to retract a paper after supplement seller sues”

  1. Oh, this could be a bad precedent.
    Did the Pharma company that makes the DCI provide the supplement for the study, or fund the study? Were they expecting to have a say in the publication of the data? If the DCI used in the study was not provided by the company, did it differ in composition or any other way from the supplement they sell?
    If not, then I cannot see why they have a legal leg to stand on.

  2. According to the methods in the original paper, the DCI was obtained from Interquim SA. I can’t find any funder details or any mention of LJ Pharma.

  3. obtained an ex Parte order… means, obtained without the “other” side being present. Ex parte orders are, for me any way, immediately suspected of being wrongly issued because the order goes out without any “real” legal proceedings in the sense of both sides are present and argue and provide evidence. the judge heard only one side of the argument and issued an order. very suspect.

  4. I read the paper. In the expression of concern, I read ‘obfuscating legal language’. But it is legal language. Why retraction? It is ‘simply’ a LJ Pharma-problem? I see no mention of LJ Pharma in the paper. Why go to court?

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