A medically qualifed author submitted a paper in which he described the treatment of four cases of “pesticide poisoning presented as ME.”These four cases had doubtful sounding evidence of pesticide poisoning. The author treated them with a mixture of choline and ascorbic acid. He did this because: “Between the years 1968 and 1973 I had carried out a number of unpublished experiments on patients with high blood cholesterol,including the familial form,and had found that oral administration of a choline and ascorbic acid mixture would lower the blood level more successfully than did clofibrate...the blood level of cholesterol would initially rise before it eventually fell, suggesting that cholesterol was being mobilised from the tissues into the blood stream prior to excretion. I decided,therefore,to try the same mixture on this patient as the pesticide is lipid soluble to see if it would respond in a similar manner.”
All four patients seem to have shown some improvement, and all four have given signed consent for “details [of their cases] to be offered for publication in a medical journal.”It was suspected that the four signatures might have been written by the author himself. The paper will not be published,but should more action be taken? Should the author be referred to the GMC?
Write to the author,asking if ethical approval had been obtained.
This is a bizarre medical practice,which should be flagged to the GMC.
In cases of overseas authors, or those who are not medically qualifed, contact the local licensing authority.
The editor wrote to the author and received an unsatisfactory response.
The GMC was alerted. It emerged that the author had already been struck off the register.