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Good Practices

Fictitious author, false conclusions

In May this year, the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics published an article by a researcher named Lars Andersson, asserting that the HPV vaccine may be associated with increased rates of cervical cancer in some regions of Sweden. Andersson claimed to be a retired professor linked to the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, an institution famous for choosing the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. It was soon discovered that everything in the article was false, starting with his conclusions. Joakin Dillner, a professor from the Pathology Department at the Karolinska Institute, told medical journal Läkartidningen that there is no evidence of an increase in cervical cancer in the country. And nobody at the Karolinska Institute has ever heard of Lars Andersson. “We do not know the author’s true identity, and the name he or she uses is a pseudonym. We do not even have any evidence that they are really a researcher,” said Ole Peter Ottersen, dean of the institute. Ottersen believes the case reveals problems with the article evaluation process used by the Indian medical journal.