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News 2016-02-23

The Lancet publishes letter from the Academy

In a letter to the editor published in The Lancet 22 February, Secretary General Göran K. Hansson and the Chairman of the Class for medical sciences Lena Claesson-Welsh provide important information relating to a paper published in The Lancet in 2011. The paper presented the result of a tracheobronchial transplantation with an artificial trachea, performed by Paolo Macchiarini at Karolinska University Hospital.  The editor at the Lancet has also commented on the Academy statement on the Macchiarini-case. 

In a letter published this week in the Lancet, the Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Göran K. Hansson and the Chairman of the Academy’s Class for Medical Sciences Lena Claesson-Welsh commented on an article in The Lancet from 2011 by Paolo Macchiarini and co-workers. In it, a tracheobronchial transplantation performed at Karolinska University Hospital was described as being without “major complications”. The hospital records states that the patient suffered from serious complications and eventually died.

The letter refers to an independent expert who evaluated the paper in an investigation into possible scientific misconduct. The expert considered this description of the patient’s condition to be a severe misrepresentation of the hospital records.

The demand to add a supplement to the paper was one of two in the official Academy statement on the Macchiarini-case published on February 11 . The Academy also demanded that the investigation of scientific misconduct was reopened and transferred from Karolinska Institute to the Central Ethical Review Board of Sweden.

The editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, writes that the journal takes allegations of scientific misconduct seriously, but that the normal standards of justice – being innocent until proven guilty – should apply. Horton points out that they will respond quickly to the verdict of the new investigation, but makes no comment on that the severe misrepresentation of the patient’s condition is left without comment during the investigations.

The acting Vice-Chancellor of Karolinska Institute announced last week that the investigation into scientific misconduct will now be transferred to the Central Ethical Review Board, as demanded by the Academy.