Sunday, June 14, 2020

Indian-American COVID19 Researchers Face Fraud Charges Over HydroxyChloroquine (HCQ) Study

Top two international medical journals, New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and The Lancet, were recently forced to retract two papers on COVID-19 due to obvious fraud committed by the coauthor Sapan Desai, Chicago-based Indian-American surgeon and businessman, whose analytics company Surgisphere claimed to have stored clinical data from thousands of patients of hundreds of hospitals as part of HydroxyChloroquine (HCQ) study. Dr. Amit Patel and Dr. Madeep Mehra, both of whom are American-Indians, claimed to be the lead authors of the papers published in The Lancet and NEJM. The drug was promoted by US President Trump as a way to treat COVID patients. The study claimed to have looked at data from 671 hospitals across six continents related to 96,000 patients. The authors claimed that 81,000 hospitalized patients were not given HCQ but 15,000 were given HCQ which has been widely used to treat malaria patients.

It all turned out to be fake. But it forced World Health Organization (WHO) to suspend its clinical trial of the drug's effectiveness in treating coronavirus patients, a serious setback to finding a treatment for the highly contagious disease that has put a big chunk of the world in lockdown.

India-American Doctors Amit Patel, Mandeep Mehra, Sapan Desai


On June 4, 2020, The Lancet issued the following retraction statement:

“Today, three of the authors of the paper, “Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis”, have retracted their study. They were unable to complete an independent audit of the data underpinning their analysis. As a result, they have concluded that they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.” The Lancet takes issues of scientific integrity extremely seriously, and there are many outstanding questions about Surgisphere and the data that were allegedly included in this study.”

Dr. Amit Patel and Dr. Madeep Mehra, both of who are American-Indians claimed to be the lead authors of the papers published in The Lancet and NEJM. Dr. Patel has had his faculty position terminated by the University of Utah, where he was the chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Dr. Mehra has offered an unconditional apology and confessed that he lent his name as lead investigator to several research papers without looking at the data supplied by Desai.

Apparently, Mehra and Patel designed a study and then asked Desai to provide them some results out of thin air to support their predetermined conclusions. Medical Journals are often keen to publish scientific studies on COVID-19 that help them increase their earnings via subscriptions and advertising. The authors would probably have gotten away with the fraud if the study had been something not as high profile as the search for COVID19 treatment.

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1 comment:

Riaz Haq said...

A 50-year-old Indian-origin tech entrepreneur has been arrested in the US for an alleged investment scheme that defrauded more than 10,000 victims of over $45 million and netted him several luxury cars and real estate.


https://www.ndtv.com/indians-abroad/indian-origin-man-neil-chandran-arrested-in-us-for-alleged-45-million-investment-fraud-3117176


Neil Chandran, of Las Vegas in Nevada, was arrested on Wednesday in Los Angeles, the Department of Justice said.

According to the indictment, Mr Chandran owned a group of technology companies that he used in a scheme to defraud investors by falsely promising extremely high returns on the premise that one or more of his companies, operated under the banner of "ViRSE," was about to be acquired by a consortium of wealthy buyers.

Mr Chandran's companies -- which included Free Vi Lab, Studio Vi Inc., ViDelivery Inc, ViMarket Inc, and Skalex USA Inc, among others -- developed virtual-world technologies, including their own cryptocurrency, for use in the companies' own metaverse.

The indictment alleges that Mr Chandran caused other individuals to make various materially false and misleading representations to investors, including that investors in his companies would soon receive extremely high returns when one or more of those companies was purchased by a group of wealthy buyers.

In fact, according to the indictment, there was no such buyer group that was about to purchase the companies for the claimed returns; a substantial portion of the funds was misappropriated for other business ventures and the personal benefit of Mr Chandran and others, including the purchase of luxury cars and real estate; and there were no prominent billionaires involved in purchasing Mr Chandran's companies.