Following the Hindustan Times’ two-part exclusive reports exposing a medical research fraud committed by the head of the pharmacology department and two resident doctors at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, the peer-reviewed journal, which published the study, has announced to retract the article from the journal.
It also announced that the authors duped the journal and tarnished their image.
Dr Amitava Chakravarti, head of the pharmacology department, PGIMER, and two others authored the fake research paper.
HT on July 28 and July 30 had highlighted that how the drug information unit (DIU) at the PGIMER received just one call in three years from 2011 to 2013. But in a research paper published by three doctors of the pharmacology department, which runs the unit, claimed receiving 56 calls in one month.
However, HT’s investigative reports highlighted that the DIU had received only 53 calls since its inception in 2003. The unit addresses queries of doctors related to various drugs and their adverse reactions over phone. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal named the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research last year.
In a communication sent to the Hindustan Times on Monday, journal’s chief editor Dr Heman Jain said, “Our final and firm conclusion was that the editorial and peer reviewers have been duped by the authors by sending an article based of non-supportive data. This article has tarnished the name of our journal and has wasted serious editorial resources and time. We have taken decision to retract the article from our journal.”
He also said the article was well written and cleared the peer review system with minor changes. It was being sent from a premier institution and one of the authors was a head of the department. A signed contributors’ form claiming authenticity of data was also sent to us.
He said, “After the complaint, we did a detailed reanalysis of the paper and sought further detailed evidences of data from the authors and concerned persons. Our focus was primarily on honesty of the work submitted to us and we relooked at the paper from all aspects.”
The two resident doctors involved in the study are Dr Pugazhenthan Thangaraju and Dr Hararmanjit Singh.
The study titled “Short Communication: Drug Information Unit as an Effective Tool for Promoting Rational Drug Use”, was supposedly conducted in 2013 and was based on the calls received at the DIU that too at a time when the unit was actually lying defunct.