Resignation in Protest, Frontiers in Pharmacology Topic Editors, “Treating COVID-19 With Currently Available Drugs”

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We published a post on work at the University of California, San Francisco, to identify existing drugs that looked like they had the potential to treat Covid, as in at a minimum reduce the severity of disease (We Found and Tested 47 Old Drugs That Might Treat the Coronavirus: Results Show Promising Leads and a Whole New Way to Fight COVID-19). But that was before the vaccine effort was far enough along to look like it was likely to bear fruit.

As we’ve pointed out, the West has gone all in with the vaccine magic bullet approach, when that’s not a great public health idea, unless the goal is the low bar of keeping hospitals from collapsing. It’s unlikely that any vaccine that combats a respiratory virus will achieve the level of sterilizing immunity.1 The current round of vaccines accordingly produce 90%ish immunity against serious disease and death….for how long? Six months? Eight months? Maybe a year? And that’s before the potential for variants to lower the efficacy of vaccines just administered.

So a multi-pronged approach would seem to be desirable if the aim is to have the public feel safe enough to resume something like the old normal. That means keeping up handwashing and masking in many indoor settings, and emphasizing ventilation. It also means using prophylactics and treatments. Yet it’s hardly news that discussion of using old off patent drugs as treatments is being depicted as crank-dom. As reader Richard Needham said over the weekend:

JAMA, considered the gold standard for clinical research in the US, has just published an article on March 4 by Lopez-Medina et al. claiming that “the compound that can not be named” is ineffective in C19.

As a start, read the comments in JAMA and then those in an open letter signed by 100 physicians pointing our the flaws in this study ( As a scientist and reviewer I can state that the paper would be embarrassing for anything other than a paper submitted to a Junior High School Science Fair. Well-designed studies with much more data, including meta-analyses, coming to the ‘opposite conclusion’ have been accepted after peer review in other journals like Nature and the Lancet, only to have the editors reject them. A practice I have never heard of…

Yet JAMA is, ‘a journal other professionals would find to be credible’. Laymen accept the cachet of the top journals but nobody who publishes in them does. Paper quality varies widely in the ‘top journals’ even when there are no financial interests at stake but I have had many amusing conversations at meetings about terrible papers published in them. Now add to that that massive money stakes are involved in the veracity of the statement that ‘IVM is safe, cheap, and extraordinarily effective’. Vaccines for variants, alternative useless but expensive meds like remdesivir, new oral medications, etc. are potentially worth at least 10’s of billions of dollars.

JAMA and other journals, WHO, medical schools, and to a lesser extent NIH, have been captured by big Pharma and the interests of Bill and Melinda Gates. Unfortunately writing this I have reproduced the insanity of those that claim that scientists have a cure for cancer but are suppressing it to ensure their incomes. However, simply look at the resistance to supplying vaccine off-patent to the world population to avoid massive death for an example of the same attitude.

There are no ‘credible’ journals but no lack of medical professionals who do not read the literature but depend upon the NIH, WHO, and JAMA rather than forming their own opinions from the data and acting upon them in the clinic. A hopeful sign is that many front-line physicians recognize that their judgement matters and are willing to take on the derision of their colleagues by supplying their patients with IVM. It is called practicing medicine and is an ethical responsibility that can not be avoided.

Four top medical researchers just resigned from Frontiers in Pharmacology in protest over the rejection of two papers that had gotten to the “final validation” stage of the review process, which is by editors of the publication, and not independent experts. One was on Ivermectin, the other on Celecoxib and high does Famotidine adjuvant therapy. We’ve reproduced their resignation letters so you can see their description of how these cases were handled. Note the initial the refusal to ‘splain the basis for rejection of papers that had made it through all the previous review stages, which when the reviewers did not back down, shifted into nonsensical bureaucratic pretexts and insinuations that the guest editors had behaved improperly).

As you’ll see, Frontiers went scorched earth. Per the missive below:

At this point, based on these many actions, we are unable to assure scientific integrity of the peer review process on the part of the journal for this special topic. Our time and that of the peer reviewers has been donated to the journal, and our reputations used without compensation. We ask to be removed from association with this special topic area, that an apology be issued to ourselves and our respective institutions for the actions of the journal in this matter, and that the special topic (which we had developed with full approval by the journal) be discontinued effective immediately. Having communicated to Frontiers that this would be our collective action if corrections were not made to this extraordinary re-review process, Frontiers has elected to expel each of the guest editors from any ongoing or future role as editors, and to close down and wipe all electronic evidence that the special topic had ever even been approved or had manuscripts submitted under the topic approved. This decision was disclosed in email communications with all corresponding authors of published, approved, or pending manuscripts, but not with the guest editors who had created the topic and solicited and managed review of the manuscripts.

The scientific process requires fair, open, and transparent peer review to proceed effectively and efficiently – particularly at this time and for this topic. The actions of “Frontiers” in this matter clearly violate well established norms and processes for peer review and publication of scientific works and intellectual contributions, and instead have substituted a unilateral, arbitrary, and capricious process. On behalf of our peers, our institutions, and our scientific and medical colleagues we cannot allow this precedent to remain unchallenged. In our opinion, these unfortunate events constitute gross editorial misconduct by “Frontiers”.

I hope the guest authors can retrieve the articles that were reviewed and published properly from the Wayback Machine, in nothing else, for the benefit of the authors of those paper, and publish a “Banned by Frontiers” or somesuch site, ideally on a server beyond the reach of the Frontiers intellectual property police.2

Frontiers in Pharmacology likes to think it’s a serious venue. Its site states:

Frontiers in Pharmacology is the world’s 2nd most-cited open-access journal in its field and ranks in the top Impact Factor and CiteScore percentiles.

Perhaps more important, one of the four signatories is a Serious Expert:

Dr. Robert Malone, MD, MS

Scientifically trained at UC Davis, UC San Diego, and at the Salk Institute Molecular Biology and Virology laboratories, Dr. Malone is an internationally recognized scientist (virology, immunology, molecular biology) and is known as the inventor of mRNA vaccination and one of the original inventors of “DNA Vaccination”. Dr. Malone holds numerous fundamental domestic and foreign patents in the fields of gene delivery, delivery formulations, and vaccines. Dr. Malone has 11,060 citations of his publications, as verified by Google Scholars.

So Malone is just about the last person one could charge as having a prejudice against mRNA vaccines.

As IM Doc summed it up: “It is not just Facebook – The censorship is real.”


1 Although Covid increasingly looks like an endothelial virus….

2 Authors almost always retain a copyright interest (yes, there are plenty of variations, so forgive me for not belaboring details), so the authors could bless any hoisting and republication from the Wayback Machine. The only Frontiers beef would be use of their name and image, but the argument is that the association of that name and image was valid as of the time of publication, and Frontiers have a time machine to retroactively revoke the publication agreements they signed with the various authors.

00 Resignation in Protest
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  1. Maritimer

    I understand that Big Pharma Vaccine has no legal liablility for its products though all bets might be off there if there has been malfeasance.

    But for healthcare professionals and particularly Doctors that may not be true. So, if there are lawsuits, possibly class action, there would be liability up and down the healthcare chain. In addition, there would be discovery. The first question I would ask is: “Doctor did you or any members of your family have Covid?” The second: “How did you treat it?”

    Andecdotally, the largest personal injury law firm in this jurisdiction recently had an ad in the local paper advertising their services. I have never seen an ad for them in the paper before. Presumably, they have ads in media across the jurisdiction.

    So, maybe some tempering of Big Pharma will occur in the Courts as it has many times before. Those four top resigning medical researchers may see some handwriting on the Covid Wall.

    1. Mantid

      Dear Maritimer, When you state “if there are lawsuits, possibly class action, there would be liability up and down the healthcare chain.” Unfortunately, that may not be the case. I’ve written to 2 local doctors I know, in a different context, one is an MD the other a vet. They both wrote back simplistic “poo poohs”. Both sited the WHO and one called me a conspiracy theorist (aka a pooh pooh device). Actually pissed me off a bit. I asked for studies backing up their outdated assertions and sent them some recent meta-study papers. They likely won’t read them, which is sad but true. What I’m getting at is they, if ever sued, will use the defence “I was just following the guidelines of the WHO, CDC, etc…….” I think they’ll have a legal leg to stand on. Big Pharma on the other hand, has a pile of gold to stand on.
      Regardless, I am pissed about this and will continue to push, colleagues, family and friends be damned. I’m almost at the point with Covid as I am with global warming (“climate change” has become a denier’s definition/talking point). With Co2 concentrations nearing the mid 400s, I’m at the point where I ignore the denial/geo-engineering BS and just “do my thing” – plant a garden, try to stay healthy, eschew convenience, read NC, help loved ones.

  2. allan

    Executive summary: Sure, vitamin C, zinc, celecoxib and famotidine in combo seem to work,
    but since you didn’t study celecoxib and famotidine on their own, ex vitamin C and zinc,
    la la la la we’re not listening.

    Sure, that works in practice, but how well does it work in theory?

    1. Cocomaan

      Who knew that vitamin intake could sink a clinical study? Someone better tell all the doctors running countless studies across the planet that systematic vitamin use can get your cancelled.

    2. Richard Needleman

      All trials are required to compare the best treatment available with the best treatment+ the drug to be evaluated. Clearly if your standard of care includes VitC, zinc, etc. to withhold these and give one group only the drug involves a high risk of patient harm if the drug proves ineffective. This is an ethical concern obvious to all researchers and for a reviewer to object to the inclusion of VitC, etc. in the drug group is ludicrous.

  3. Terry Flynn

    I wish I could say this is a bug and not a feature but I can’t. I worked in academic health services research alongside clinical trials since 1997 and I’ve seen more and more shenanigans.

    My “big boss” for many years in Bristol was Professor Paul Dieppe. He literally wrote the textbook for rheumatology used in the UK. He also was the “whistle blower” on Cox 2 inhibitors (which severely impacted his career for a while before being proved right and having US credentials restored and mention of his expulsion from academic societies deleted wherever possible).

    Unfortunately my own experience, together with knowledge of his, quickly taught me that just because it is in the big 4 is no guarantee that it was done correctly, let alone right in conclusions.

  4. Cocomaan

    Went and looked up the special editor with veto power on the issue. I think this is the same guy.

    I’m no doctor but this guy’s publication history doesn’t indicate a deep research history when it comes to Covid related pharmacology.

    He appears to be more of an asthma researcher than anything else. But maybe someone in medicine or research can weigh in.

    1. Richard Needleman

      Journal topics generally cover a very broad landscape of specialties. No journal editor is versed in all of them. His/Her job is to send the manuscript to subject matter experts and to referee any disputes which may arise. The reviewers make a recommendation to publish (strongly or weakly), to demand revisions, or to reject. It is not uncommon to have highly divergent opinions that necessitate conversations between the authors and the anonymous reviewer(s). The editor facilitates and mediates these conversations, and ultimately makes the final decision. However if all reviewers—chosen of course by the editor for their expertise in the first place—highly recommend publication, rejecting the manuscript in my experience never happens. If it does, there is obviously something else going on….

  5. The Rev Kev

    We all know how publications like the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. are just propaganda programs for whatever neoliberal or neocon fetish arises. But what I never realized was how the same rot had spread to top medical journals as well. And not just Frontiers here but also The Lancet. Because of this censorship, people die by the tens of thousands just so some pharma corporations can protect their profits and some people protect their elite positions. One day somebody will call this pandemic ‘The Great Reveal’ as it has revealed how bad things have gotten in all sorts of fields and institutions like Stanford and publications like Frontiers will have permanent reputational damage. How that all plays out though is an open question still.

  6. pjay

    Unfortunately, it’s only the Tucker Carlsons of the media covering this topic, which means it is further politicized and forbidden among the Michelle Kosinkis of “journalism.”

    Thanks for bringing attention to this issue.

  7. voislav

    This is not the first time this publisher has done something dumb, Frontiers Media has a very checkered history in scientific publication. They’ve done this sort of thing before and they’ve been known to employ questionable publishing practices.

    Ironically, they’ve been known to publish let’s say “questionable” papers, like linking vaccines to autism and HIV denialism. They are also known for their pay-to-publish policies, where it’s almost impossible for a paper to get rejected by the peer reviewers.

    1. pjay

      Thanks for the warning. From now on I’ll stick to medical journals with impeccable ethics that would never employ questionable publishing practices – like the JAMA or Lancet.

  8. polar donkey

    A guy I work with lost his ex girlfriend last week to covid. She was 38 years old. They had a 13 year old daughter. The daughter is devastated. I can pretty much guarantee the mother didn’t get offered ivermectin. When I see the guy today, I will tell him to call a lawyer.

  9. Keith Newman

    The article that was posted 2 days ago on Naked Capitalism regarding the effectivenss of Ivermecton has been censored. It is no longer available online, i.e. “Review of the Emerging Evidence Demonstrating the Efficacy of Ivermectin in the Prophylaxis and Treatment of COVID-19 American Journal of Therapeutics (peer-reviewed; Wolters Kluwer; in MEDLINE)”

      1. flora

        The Great and Powerful Oz has spoken! Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

    1. Mantid

      Dear Keith, My oh my, it only took a few days for the Amer. Journal of Therapeutics to 404 it. Almost funny. About as funny as a screen door in a submarine. So, who (every time I type that word I giggle, never google) out there can help us via the WayBack Machine. Dang, what a hang, I should have downloaded the PDF. Live and learn.

      Hopefully, Dr. Korey in the FLCCC’s weekly youtube discussion will comment on this (he wrote the study) and perhaps post it in a different space. Look up FLCCC Weekly Update – comes out Wed. eve or sometimes Thurs. This blackballing is getting quite brazen.

      As I wrote this I see that others have responded with hot links. Thanks so much to everyone. I’ll make a habit of downloading PDFs and critical (AKA important) videos in advance (hopefully) of their banishment.

      1. Keith Newman

        Thanks for the links everybody. The ones from “…americantherapeutics/…” didn’t work for me. Fortunately the others did. I have printed off a hard copy, pdf-ed it, and saved the article on my own computer, just in in case.
        This could be the difference between life and death for people I know.

  10. Jan R

    Both Trump and Rudy Giuliani were treated with medications and cocktails for Covid – 19. Is information available in the public domains about the compositions of the cocktails and which medications? Jan R

    1. BillC

      Excellent question, Jan. I’ve been wondering that ever since I heard about the President’s hospitalization and rapid recovery. Funny, I haven’t seen any details, either.

  11. ProudWappie

    It seems that Covid-19 has some extraordinary powers we haven’t talked about yet. It can censor treatments to make sure it keeps going strong.

    By now, the damage to authority, media and science might become too much to be salvageable.

  12. Tom Stone

    This is corruption of a kind that is immensely damaging to Society as a whole.
    When papers this important are “Disappeared” how soon will people be “Disappeared” on a regular basis?
    At least when children were tossed into Moloch’s fiery maw the excuse was GodSwill, now it’s corporate profits.

  13. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “The censorship is real.”

    Perhaps, it is just another case that reinforces the reality of the thought control process that maintains all those orthodox boundaries that determine what is considered “thinkable thought” in democratic societies. Punishment awaits all those who stray, even a little bit, from the carefully constructed and delineated boundaries. See for example,

    1. “Democratic systems are different. It is necessary to control not only what people do, but also what they think. Democracy permits the voice of the people to be heard, and it is the task of the intellectual to ensure that this voice endorses what farsighted leaders know to be the right course.”

    2. “If scientists were unwilling to challenge the orthodoxy for fear of the consequences, Metzl adds, then that “made it hard for journalists to write credible stories about origins, particularly in the absence of evidence.“

    The labelling of an individual as a crank, or conspiracy theorist has certain type of ‘chilling’ effect [That is,
    “The negative deterrence of communication and the right to free expression.”; where, the threat of ‘career suicide’ and not legal sanctions, becomes the behavioral whip of all those upholding the orthodoxy.], negative effects on the legitimacy of any information being published; which appears to be both the deliberate designed and desired outcome. The dispassionate reliance on the facts and only the facts, as a cornerstone of scientific enterprise, appears to be another crude myth freely offered up to the soft headed, that is, all heretics will still be dealt with harshly, even if they are no longer burned at the stake [“With a metal plate clamped over his tongue, Bruno was stripped, tied to a stake and, accompanied by the chants of the Confraternity of the Beheading of St John, burned alive.” ].

    Today, you only face the possibility of being stripped of your career; while, you are being publicly humiliated, as an example for everyone else harboring similar thoughts.

  14. ArvidMartensen

    If you start looking at organizations (business, government, NGO etc) this way then you see what is going on.

    Consider that the qualities that get you to the top in terms of power and money are these:
    # Will do anything at all for power and wealth
    # Lies and manipulates regularly
    # Uses coercion where necessary
    # Couldn’t care less if actions hurt/harm/kill others

    They gravitate to positions of CEO, Attorney, Celebrity, Salesperson. Also Politician.

    Perhaps, on the basis of odds, at least some of these people are in charge of aspects of vaccine development and rollout.
    Perhaps right now they are seeing a very clear path to enormous wealth. Perhaps right now they are seeing cheap alternative treatments for Covid as annoying problems to be stopped. People are dying, so what!
    Compared to people with empathy, such people might as well be aliens. It is no good judging them based on our standards, they probably just see that as evidence of our stupidity and gullibility.

    Perhaps this blog is the best we can do, keep informed, ignore the captured organizations. Then care as best we can for our communties and loved ones, by hook or by crook.

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