Call for review of ‘flawed’ ME research in Lancet letter
Tom Whipple.science editor@whippletom,
Tom Whipple joined The Times in 2006. He writes science news and features across the paper. In the course of his duties he has seen inside both the world’s hottest sauna and the world’s most irradiated nature reserve.
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More than a hundred academics have joined ten MPs and scores of patient groups from around the world to sign an open letter calling for The Lancet to reanalyse a study into treatment for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).
The letter follows a debate in parliament in which one MP said that the study, which is used to set NHS guidelines, “will go down as one of the biggest medical scandals of the 21st century”. The authors of the research paper stood by their findings and said that the letter represented a campaign to discredit solid research and force the retraction of papers simply because patients disagreed with their findings.
The signatories, who include academics from Harvard, Stanford, UCL and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that the 2011 Pace trial, which recommended therapy and exercise as a treatment for the condition, had “major flaws” and “unacceptable methodological lapses”.
The £5 million publicly funded trial was published in The Lancet and has informed advice on treating people with ME in the NHS and abroad, but is controversial among ME sufferers. Some claim that its advice perpetuates an idea that the disease, which causes debilitating disability, is all in the mind.
The Lancet declined to comment.