MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Guest post by Norbert Aust and Viktor Weisshäupl

Readers of this blog may remember the recent study of Frass et al. about the adjunct homeopathic treatment of patients suffering from non-small cell lung cancer (here). It was published in 2020 by the ‘Oncologist’, a respectable journal, and came to stunning results about to the effectiveness of homeopathy.

In our analysis, however, we found strong indications for duplicity: important study parameters like exclusion criteria or observation time were modified post hoc, and data showed characteristics that occur when unwanted data sets get removed.

We, that is the German Informationsnetzwerk Homöopathie and the Austrian ‘Initiative für wissenschaftliche Medizin’, had informed the Medical University Vienna about our findings – and the research director then asked the Austrian Agency for Scientific Integrity (OeAWI) to review the paper. The analysis took some time and included not only the paper and publicly available information but also the original data. In the end, OeAWI corroborated our findings: The results are not based on sound research but on modified or falsified data.

Here is their conclusion in full:

The committee concludes that there are numerous breaches of scientific integrity in the Study, as reported in the Publication. Several of the results can only be explained by data manipulation or falsification. The Publication is not a fair representation of the Study. The committee cannot for all the findings attribute the wrongdoings and incorrect representation to a single individual. However following our experience it is highly unlikely that the principal investigator and lead author, but also the co-authors were unaware of the discrepancies between the protocols and the Publication, for which they bear responsibility. (original English wording)

Profil, the leading news magazine of Austria reported in its issue of October 24, 2022, pp 58-61 (in German). There the lead author, Prof. M. Frass, a member of Edzard’s alternative medicine hall of fame, was asked for his comments. Here is his concluding statement:

All the allegations are known to us and completely incomprehensible, we can refute all of them. Our work was performed observing all scientific standards. The allegation of breaching scientific integrity is completely unwarranted. To us, it is evident that not all documents were included in the analysis of our study. Therefore we requested insight into the records to learn about the basis for the final statement.

(Die Vorwürfe sind uns alle bekannt und absolut unverständlich, alle können wir entkräften. Unsere Arbeit wurde unter Einhaltung aller wissenschaftlichen Standards durchgeführt. Der Vorhalt von Verstößen gegen die wissenschaftliche Intergrität enbehrt jeder Grundlage. Für uns zeigt sich offenkundig, dass bei der Begutachtung unserer Studie nicht alle Unterlagen miteinbezogen wurden. Aus diesem Grunde haben wir um Akteneinsicht gebeten, um die Grundlagen für das Final Statment kennenzulernen.)

The OeAWI together with the Medical University Vienna asked the ‘Oncologist’ for a retraction of this paper – which has not occurred as yet.

28 Responses to Michael Frass’ research into homeopathy for cancer: “numerous breaches of scientific integrity”

  • Nice work. Let’s hope a retraction is forthcoming.

  • I’m glad that you choose to include Dr. Michael Frass’ statement of defense. It is now in OeAWI’s court to be much more specific. Further, Frass alleges that not all documents were included in OeAWI’s analysis. The OeAWI must respond to this too.

    Methinks Ernst and OeAWI simply didn’t like the results of Frass’ research and therefore they create and see ghosts when none exist.

    • talking tosh again, Dana?
      1) I am not the author
      2) the OeAWI is VERY specific in their report [but you obviously haven’t read it and are talking out of your area]

    • The paper found homeopathy to be effective, Dana. Ergo it has to be, like all of Frass’ previous published work, incompetently conducted or, in this case, fraudulent.

      Methinks you simply like the results of Frass’ work and are wilfully blind to the egregious errors therein.

    • Let me explain:

      The OeAWI report consists of quite a few pages more than the few lines we cited here. OeAWI had contacted the author and reviewed original data sets. They had access to the files kept by the Medical University in Vienna, they had the protocols that were submitted to the ethics committee. Well, I do not know, what more data or documents can be in existence and should be included into the analysis. I guess, it would be the task of the author to present them.

      Refer to the Profil edition cited in the text for a more detailed account. You may get help in translating by your friend Christian J Becker from Hamburg, Germany.

    • Oh Mr. Ullman, I am glad that you have taken time to look in here again.

      I wonder if this time you could name the laboratory that can distinguish between homeopathic water and other water, which in this blog you previously said ‘only fools or liars’ doubted could be done.

      Thirty-eighth time of asking…..

      • Here’s one more study worthy of your attention, even though you don’t seem to read the previous ones I’ve sent you:

        https://www.highdilution.org/index.php/ijhdr/article/view/1113/1086

        • Thank you for posting the link, Mr Ullman.

          It wasn’t a study I was hoping for, but for you to name a laboratory that can distinguish between homeopathic water and other water, which you previously said in this Blog ‘only fools or liars’ doubted could be done.

          Thirty-ninth time of asking.

        • @Dana Ullman
          Once again:
          Please name at least one homeopathic preparation 12C+ the effects or even sheer presence of which can be (and have been) robustly demonstrated in independently replicable experiments.

          If you can’t name even one such a homeopathic preparation, then at least be honest enough to admit this.

          ALL real substances can be detected and analysed in lots of ways, showing their effects or at the very least least their presence – yet there is NOT A SINGLE homeopathic preparation that conforms to this absolutely basic proof of real existence, let alone proof of real effects. And until this basic proof has been delivered, homeopathy can be safely relegated to the realm of fiction.

          Coming up with endless heaps of one-off ‘studies’, many of which are of absolutely horrendous scientific quality, is completely useless. Chance alone will ensure regular false positives – and the odds of statistical flukes and false positives also strongly increases with decreasing study quality and study size.
          But this is probably wasted on you, as you are of course no scientist.

        • Oh look. Chikramine redux. And just as inconsequential and irrelevant.

    • There are no more data and documents to include. The OeAWI had contacted Frass and reanalyzed original data. And if there were more items, then it would be the authors’ turn to procure them.

    • Talking down as a homeopathic principle, Dana? In this case, diluting and shaking the results of the OeAWI does not help. But of course, a quality of life for the terminate ill in the late stage clearly above the standard of the general population, only homeopathy can do that!

      If Frass still has “documents” to present, then he has withheld them in an official investigation procedure of the OeAWI. Either way, a lose-lose situation for him. But there is nothing more to explain with documents here.

    • As usual: Dana has no idea about anything, as his error-ridden answer shows, and still thinks he has to join in the conversation.

      Aren’t you embarrassed to make a fool of yourself all the time?

  • Frass explains the astonishing outcome of his study, which is in stark contrast to the evidence so far, with the fact that this is precisely the powerful effect of homeopathy. Is it possible that this is a circular argument?
    Ceterum censeo: Anyone who assumes that a principle of similarity does not exist in nature and that no spiritual medicinal power replaces matter and becomes stronger during dilution and shaking must also assume that all positive empirical results on homeopathy are false positives. For whatever reason.

  • The Austrian magazine “Profil” has written an article about the Frass’ “study”. It is only available in German.

    https://www.profil.at/wissenschaft/homoeopathie-bei-krebspatienten-fast-zu-schoen-um-wahr-zu-sein/402198219

    • thanks
      it’s an excellent article

    • This “critique” of the Frass study is totally laughable…with hand-waving and no substance. The worst charge against this study was that the results were “too good” and that homeopathic medicines are “implausible” (even though THIS high-quality randomized double-blind and placebo controlled trial) proves otherwise! Further, it is no longer accurate to say or even suggest that homeopathic medicines are “implausible,” any more than the nanodoses of our own body’s hormones operate at nanodose levels.

      I guess it makes sense to question the results just because the results do not fit your personal beliefs, although it is very embarrassing that people who claim to believe in “science” but only when the results fit their worldview. And it is so cute to watch the people here “spin” and fabricate ghosts (and there’s no irony to this tendency to create ghosts even though people here don’t believe in ghosts).

      • Dana, with all respect: you would not recognize a high-quality randomized double-blind and placebo-controlled trial if it bit you in the arse.

      • So then Dana. The results shown in Frass’ trial. What do you think will happen?

        They will be replicated by others.

        Homeopathy will be shown to be of huge value in the treatment of cancer.

        The world of science and medicine will be rocked to its core; textbooks rewritten, protocols reevaluated.

        Frass will receive the Nobel prize he so richly deserves.

        You know. Like what happened as a result of every other paper Frass has published.

        No of course it won’t. Frass’ work will continue to be be ignored because clinicians will see it as the specious garbage that it is and Frass will, like you, continue to be an ignorant, pathetic and insignificant crank worthy only of laughable contempt.

        At what point will it dawn on you that all your petulant stamping, sputtering and handwaving has achieved precisely nothing other than giving the world of science a few chuckles?

      • @Dana Ullman
        Have you actually read the full critique? Some of the points:
        – The study protocol was dated 2011, and the study itself was registered in 2012. The study description in the registration should largely match the protocol. It didn’t. In fact, the registration differed completely from both the protocol and the finalized study in 2019; the protocol and the finalized study did match far better. And indeed it turns out that the protocol was NOT submitted in 2011, but in 2019, yet still was dated 2011. This reeks of backdating essential documents after the fact, and of large yet completely undocumented alterations in the study set-up during the study itself. Both these things are not just no-no’s, but outright fraud.
        – The study protocol, ostensibly created in 2011, contains references to computer software versions and other studies that did not yet exist in 2011, further supporting the notion that dates and data were fudged.
        – Median survival in the placebo group came up significantly worse than normal for this type of cancer, suggesting that data was manipulated.
        – Survival graphs showed signs of data manipulation, probably by excluding patient groups after unblinding.
        – When Frass was asked if he could explain the discrepancies that were found, he simply responded by submitting a changed protocol version, with the items that could indicate fraudulent manipulation removed, and dated 2014 – so again Frass backdated a document.

        Also see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7nDQeVDSKw (German)

        So do you still think that Frass has produced a good study? I’d say the above points are strong indications of fraud.

      • Mr. Ullman, I wonder if you could spare a moment to name a laboratory that can distincuish between homeopathic water and other water, which you said in this Forum “only fools or liars” doubt could be done.

        Thank you.

        FORTIETH time of asking.

  • I couldn’t help but notice that you don’t have a reply to my critique of Frass’ critique. Instead, you resort to an ad hom (which only bolsters my point, thanx!).

    • sorry, I cannot comment on your critique because it is far too ill-informed and does not merit a serious response.

    • Well, Dana, I would gladly reply to your critique of our critique of the Frass study. But, sorry to say, I could not find any instance where you indicate any mistake of ours. It is futile to argue what you feel or what you think.

      To merit any response you should (1) read our posts (or the summary of Richard Basker from 31 October 07:54), (2) check the sources we gave and then, if you spot any mistake on our side or have other sources that we overlooked (3) point it out to us.

      Otherwise there simply is no substance in your comments to answer to.

  • https://academic.oup.com/oncolo/advance-article/doi/10.1093/oncolo/oyac221/6782256?searchresult=1
    The journal “The Oncologist” has made a first step in the right direction. Today an “Expression of Concern” about the study appeared on their website.

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