Ivermectin, effective against pests like worms and headlice, has been promoted by some as a COVID-19 therapy after a preprint showing its effectiveness was published in November on the Research Square website.

We were certainly not immune to the public relations full-court press. Until last month a week didn't go by when someone was demanding the regulatory equivalent of 'teach the controversy' no differently than activists opposed to GMOs, nuclear energy, and vaccines do. 

Now the paper has been removed. The first reason had little to do with science; the introduction was plagiarized, British medical student Jack Lawrence found. His look at the raw data also showed the claims contradicted the study protocol. The paper didn't even get the number of deaths in various groups right. If it is only 4, that seems hard to get wrong.

The big problem may be that 79 of the patients were duplicates of other patients.

The repercussions are obvious. A meta-analysis that includes - and heavily weights - the paper will lead to crazy results. It is why organic activists like Chuck Benbrook colluded with allies to drive up citations for the products of the companies paying them. Any meta-analysis that used his work would weight it more heavily, which led to Garbage In/Garbage Out issues.

Like hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19, controversy does not mean it won't work. But if a company in the private sector believes either are effective, they can go into clinical trials and show it. It will never be some guy in Egypt making up stuff that leads to FDA authorization.