Journal Says Ivermectin Study Met Standard for 'Credible Science'

September 19, 2022

A journal editor is defending his decision to publish a new paper showing that ivermectin can prevent Covid-19, despite more than a dozen retractions of such papers from the literature.

The article, "Regular Use of Ivermectin as Prophylaxis for COVID-19 Led Up to a 92% Reduction in COVID-19 Mortality Rate in a Dose-Response Manner: Results of a Prospective Observational Study of a Strictly Controlled Population of 88,012 Subjects," appeared in Cureus August 31.

The authors included Pierre Kory, a critical care specialist better known as the leader of the Front-Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance, based in Madison, Wis. Kory has been an active promoter of the use of ivermectin and other questionable remedies for Covid-19 – even testifying before Congress about his ideas – although his most high-profile paper on the topic was retracted last November.

Another author, Flavio Cadegiani, had a paper about another potential treatment for COVID-19 retracted earlier this year.

The new ivermectin paper immediately drew flak on social media, including from Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, who described a number of weaknesses in the work, starting with the inaccurate title:

In response to our query about the article, John Adler Jr., the editor-in-chief of the journal, wrote:

This article was carefully reviewed and not found to have any substantial methodological flaws. We live in dangerous times when censorship is routinely advocated for unpopular scientific ideas. I trust that is not what you are advocating?

We asked Adler for the peer reviews. He demurred, but told us:

Cureus uses a reviewer commenting tool that is embedded inside the HTML article view page…..it is akin to making detailed comments on a paper document with a pen (our reviewers love it which makes our review process appreciably more efficient than other journals). Ultimately at the end reviewers also generate a short summary review similar to most other journals. Suffice it to say 2 reviewers wrote laudatory detailed reviews and recommended publication. One reviewer was far more critical focusing on the very criticisms/limitations the authors themselves enumerated and they did not recommend publication. A 4th reviewer had laudatory embedded comments (inside the reviewer tool) but did not "finish" their review. Regardless, given Cureus standard of "credible science" we deemed the article worthy of publication and of course post publication it is readily available for comments and scoring (SIQ) by all interested readers, you included.

Kory did not respond to a request for comment. Cadegiani has responded to some critiques of the paper left on Cureus.

Cureus isn't afraid to flirt with controversy. In May, the journal published an article by Brian Wansink, the food marketing researcher who resigned from Cornell after a finding of misconduct – although Adler said he was unaware of Wansink's track record at the time. And Adler has also said that "amateur bullshit" is the price of democratizing the scholarly literature.

Adam Marcus, a cofounder of Retraction Watch, is an editor at Medscape.

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