“This is just the first step in the process,” says Karen Pedersen, a spokesperson for the New England Journal. The Journal editors are now checking with the authors of the paper to explore whether formal retraction is necessary. Pedersen says that the Journal began looking into the matter earlier this week as soon as they learned about the problems at Lancet.
There’s been no reply to a message sent to Sudbo’s email address late Friday.
One hospital spokesman told the BBC, “[Sudbo’s] database had been completely fabricated on his computer." A Norwegian daily reported that 250 of the 908 people in the Lancet study shared the same birthday.
The Lancet work involved research that concluded that common painkillers like ibuprofen could help reduce the risk of oral cancer among smokersalthough at the risk of dying from cardiovascular problems. The research in the New England Journal papers had to do with the potential use of DNA tests to determine the severity of oral cancers and precancerous lesions.