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Journals Raise Concerns Over Data Source

The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine have issued expressions of concern for papers examining the use of antimalarial drugs in treating COVID-19 and whether blood pressure drugs exacerbate the disease, the New York Times reports

The journal articles, it notes, had had immediate influence upon publication. The Lancet paper reported that the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine may have increased the risk of death among COVID-19 patients, which led clinical trials investigating them to halt. The NEJM paper, meanwhile, reported that cardiovascular disease increased someone's risk of dying from COVID-19, but found ACE inhibitors did not increase that risk.

But both journals have now raised issues regarding the data used in the studies, which came from a database run by Surgisphere. As the Times notes, Surgisphere says its database includes detailed data on about 100,000 COVID-19 patients from 1,200 hospitals, though many healthcare experts say they had not heard of the database until recently. The Guardian additionally has reported discrepancies between data in the Surgisphere database and that from other sources like Johns Hopkins University. In its expression of concern, the Lancet notes that the authors on the paper not associated with Surgisphere have initiated an audit of the data.

"Surgisphere stands behind the integrity of our studies and our scientific researchers, clinical partners, and data analysts," Surgisphere chief executive, Sapan Desai, who was a co-author of the studies, tells the Times in a statement.