An international group of scientists has added to the growing condemnation of the PACE trial study, published in the Lancet in 2011, which has propped up poor government and clinical care policies for those with the serious neurological illness myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), sometimes called chronic fatigue syndrome.
An open letter from the group, which includes world renowned geneticist Ron Davis, Professor of Biochemistry and Genetics at Stanford, was posted on Vincent Racaniello’s Virology Blog, citing a number of critical flaws in the paper.
The Davis-led group also urged The Lancet “…to seek an independent re-analysis of the individual-level PACE trial data”.
In a statement which hints at impropriety by the trial authors, the group demanded that the reviewers of the PACE study “…should be from outside the U.K. and outside the domains of psychiatry and psychological medicine” to avoid conflicts of interest between the PACE investigators and the funders of the trial.
The letter emphasized strong links between the researchers and disability insurance companies.
The letter states: “The main investigators have had financial and consulting relationships with disability insurance companies, advising them that rehabilitative therapies like those tested in PACE could help ME/CFS claimants get off benefits and back to work.”
Series of recent set backs for the PACE study
This attack on the credibility of the PACE trial by the Davis-led group is just one of a series of recent set backs for the UK psychiatric lobby which supported the study.
According to the authors, cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment for ME/CFS, one that could return patients to a normal life, an assertion that has been challenged in several recent reviews, notably by US-based journalist David Tuller and James Coyne, Professor of Health Psychology at the University Medical Center, Groningen, the Netherlands.
Also, on Oct 27, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued a notice to the Queen Mary University to release requested information related to a clinical trial concerning treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome, namely the PACE trial data, to an anonymous complainant.
ME/CFS patients have long claimed the failure of the authors to release the data was an admission of irregularities in the study.
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