A large study—parts of which have been published in several major journals— purported to show that a drug may reduce side effect X without acting through an important intermediate process Y. This suggests that the drug may have important advantages over similar drugs in its class, and indeed it had been marketed as such. But a critic thinks that the drug may indeed act through the intermediate process Y but that this had been disguised by the way in which the drug had been taken. This was not described in the major papers, but has now been reviewed in a comparatively minor study. The editor had tentatively agreed with the critic to consider publishing a paper that discussed the mechanism, but it had been difficult to find out information on the trial protocol. - Could the authors have deliberately misled readers by not describing the drug route? - Does this amount to deception?
- It is impossible to know from the initial information whether the authors deliberately attempted to deceive by disguising the manner in which the drug was taken. - Why had it been difficult to find out information on the trial protocol? Had the pharmaceutical company exerted pressure for this information not to be released? - The editor should publish something to the effect that the apparent benefit may arise from the manner in which the drug is taken.