Pharmacy School Dean Withdraws From New Role After Retracted Book Review

Ellie Kincaid

June 07, 2019

The incoming dean of a leading Canadian pharmacy school has "voluntarily withdrawn" from the new position after a book review he wrote was retracted from The Lancet in May.

The journal retracted a review of Danielle Martin's Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for All Canadians by Kishor Wasan and two coauthors because "substantial passages…match parts of a review of the same book by [journalist] André Picard," the journal wrote in a retraction notice previously reported by Medscape Medical News. Wasan and his coauthors Ellen Wasan and Jawahar Kalra were all at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, at the time of publication.

Kishor Wasan was the corresponding author of the review and had been appointed dean of the University of Toronto's pharmacy school for a 5-year term. Wasan "has voluntarily withdrawn from his upcoming appointment as dean and professor of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, which had been scheduled to begin July 1, 2019," University of Toronto spokesperson Elizabeth Church told Medscape Medical News.

At the time of publication, Wasan had not responded to Medscape Medical News' request for comment.

The University of Saskatchewan, where Wasan had been the dean of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition since August 2014, said in a statement that it "takes this issue extremely seriously." The university had appointed an acting dean for its College of Pharmacy and Nutrition as of April 1 during the process of finding a new permanent dean, the statement said, and Wasan continues to be a faculty member.

"As soon as we were made aware of the Lancet retraction of the book review, we immediately launched an initial review as required under our Responsible Conduct of Research policy," the University of Saskatchewan's statement said. "This important first step involves consultation with relevant individuals and fact gathering in order to determine whether a formal hearing into the matter, led by an impartial four-person panel, should be launched."

Picard previously told Medscape Medical News that he had become aware of the situation when The Lancet told him they would be retracting the review a week before the notice was published. He did not respond to a request for comment on the news of Wasan's withdrawal from the University of Toronto deanship.

In previous comments to Medscape Medical News about the retraction, Wasan described the process of writing and editing the book review, saying early drafts had credited Picard's review but the citations were later dropped without modifying the text.

"I agreed with them 100% that they should retract it. It was bad that that version was published," Wasan said. "This has never happened before to me in my career. In our business, our reputation is everything. I don't know what to do."

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