Exactly one year ago, almost to the day, I published my first article about that French microbiologist, Didier Raoult. The director of the IHU Méditerranée Infection research hospital and almighty professor at the Aix Marseilles University postulated in March 2020 for the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to be the cure for COVID-19.
The initial clinical study Gautret et al IJAA 2020, and everything which followed from IHU on HCQ topic, has been debunked right when it appeared. Chloroquine and HCQ were shown to be utterly ineffective in all properly run COVID-19 clinical trials, hardly anyone speaks of that drug these days, the world moved on to new quackeries. Elisabeth Bik found lots of falsified research data in Raoult’s publications. Old reports about Raoult’s own bullying and the sexual harassment he condoned at IHU surfaced.
Now Bik found even more research fraud, while a French doctor, Christian Lehmann, exposed a gigantic criminal scam Raoult had been running in order to fabricate his clinical trials with HCQ. This is what my anniversary article is about.
- Raoult’s chloroquine trial and history of bullying and data manipulation
- Raoult’s attacks on his critics
- Chloroquine explainer by C. Lehmann
- Chloroquine friendship between Raoult and Christian Perronne
- How the International Society for Microbial Chemotherapy (ISAC) became a Raoultian chloroquine cult
- Racism, antisemitism, misogyny and military fetish at IHU
The megalomaniac Raoult sees himself as a cross between General Charles De Gaulle and Edith Piaf. The Chloroquine-Druid with a military fetish awards his loyal footsoldiers with medals of war on COVID-19 and he published a book, titled “Covid-19 War Diaries”. Raoult also sings “I have no regrets”.
Why should he regret anything, the French far-right politicians are all on his side. Didou and his HCQ gang at IHU are untouchable, because it seems it’s not just the fascists in politics, medicine and academia who support them, but likely also the French military. All attempts to draw Raoult to responsibility for his blatantly illegal clinical trials (which even involved children) failed, because this is how France apparently works.
But recently, Raoult has been finally kicked where it hurt. It was not the French medical authorities or politicians or god-forbid, academics, who did something, no. Nothing is to be expected from those corners, they are scared of Raoult and the brown army behind him. The hero is Christian Lehmann, one of the handful of French doctors resisting the Chloroquine Druid cult, who also previously honoured my site with a guest post.
Lehmann published on 10 March 2021 an investigative scoop in Liberation. Raoult’s rabid bulldog, the misogynous antisemite and French army officer, Eric Chabriere, promptly announced on Twitter to have Lehman killed. It remains to be seen if this will go as unpunished as Chabriere’s other murder threats. What Lehmann uncovered is truly explosive.
In brief, Raoult staged an illegal clinical trial with actual patients to prove that chloroquine works, which was published on 20 March 2020 as Gautret et al IJAA 2020, in the ISAC journal whose chief editor is Raoult’s IHU subordinate. There, the Marseille Guru provided thousands of mildly ill outpatients with HCQ, while declaring them hospitalised, for which he financially defrauded the French health insurance system and the patients themselves. These patients, who never lay in a hospital bed, were then compared with severely ill hospitalised COVID-19 patients elsewhere in France and declared as cured by Raoult’s magic combo of chloroquine/HCQ and the antibiotic azithromycin, which was then published as “observational” clinical trials in Raoult’s own Elsevier journals. Only that those clinical trials, which involved children and were even explicitly denied an ethics approval, were not observational, but very much interventional, if not for anything else, then because Raoult intervened by staging them. This is how he did it:
Lehmann got the scoop from the former patients of Raoult’s IHU. One of them felt COVID-19 symptoms in March 2020 and went to IHU, where he was tested positive with the coronavirus. The next day the patient was provided with a treatment: HCQ and azithromycin. The patient returned three times to get a blood test, another PCR test, two electrocardiograms. Some months later, he received a bill, €1264 euros for each visit, around €3800 in total, roughly ten times more than this kind of outpatient treatment usually costs.
Now, in Europe healthcare is public, 80% of these costs were covered by the national health insurance, the rest either by the additional private insurance of the patient, yet some patients may have paid the remaining 20% from their own pocket though. The money didn’t go to Raoult and IHU anyway, but to the regional public hospital network in Marseille. So why the charade then?
Simple: back in spring 2020, the French authorities only allowed HCQ treatment of hospitalised COVID-19 patients, a ministerial decree from March 2020 stipulated HCQ only “for severe hospitalised cases, by collegial decision of doctors and under strict medical supervision.” Prescribing it to outpatients to take at home unsupervised was explicitly illegal. This is why Raoult invented a system of “hospitalisations de jour”, where patients who spent no more than an hour at IHU, to get their quick tests and pick up the HCQ prescription, were declared as hospitalised with severe COVID-19.
On 27 May 2020, French rules changed according to new research data and it also became illegal to treat patients with HCQ even in the hospital setting. The law as always did not apply to Raoult and IHU, because yet another patient told Lehmann about being treated on outpatient basis at IHU with HCQ in October 2020, and receiving a bill for around €1200 for each visit.
With the help of a medical IT expert, Lehmann found online evidence that Raoult’s IHU had been billing outpatients for fake hospitalisations since the beginning of the pandemic. Every consultation was recorded as a short hospitalisation. In most of 2020, the Marseille region was much less affected by the pandemic compared to Paris and the north of France, yet it had 41% of France’s “hospitalisations de jour” for COVID-19.
It did not even go unnoticed. In May 2020, Dominique Martin, the director of National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) arrived in Marseille to investigate Raoult’s activities. He wrote to the French medical authorities, the public health insurance services, and even the government that there seemed to be suspiciously many “hospitalisations de jour”:
“In accordance with the decree of March 23, 2020 amended, applicable during the carrying out of these studies, and which reserved the use of hydroxychloroquine in hospital setting, Professor Raoult tells us that he hospitalized certain patients in hospitals on daily basis, which raises questions about the unjustified hospitalization costs associated with prescriptions. “
It’s all in the Liberation article. But nothing happened so far, because of Raoult’s nationalist friends in high places. The Chloroquine Druid himself tweeted that it was all fake news anyway.
If this clinical trial with HCQ is not an intervention, what is? In any case, all data from that clinical trial is fabricated and obtained illegally, all possible rules were broken while money was massively embezzled. These are again the rules and laws Raoult broke:
- Running a clinical trial without ethics approval, in fact against a negative ethics vote
- Illegally prescribing HCQ to non-hospitalised COVID-19 patients
- Falsifying hospital records
- Defrauding health insurances and patients
- Falsifying clinical research
Of course hydroxychloroquine was not the only COVID-19 drug IHU was peddling. Raoult’s rabid bulldog Chabriere had been touting ivermectin (and any other quack medicine he could think of, including homeopathy) for months, but surely they didn’t mean it seriously? They did.
Below is a highly illegal and likely also criminal ivermectin prescription issued by a doctor who used to be member of a secret Twitter chat group (called “CIA”) run by Chabriere and Raoult’s PR gnome Yanis Roussel (who also is behind Raoult’s Twitter account). That doctor, I was told, is Alexis Lacout, a Chronic Lyme Disease quack associate of Raoult’s new HCQ-peddling friend, Christian Perronne.
The information was revealed on Twitter by a former member of that chat group, @Acles__, who was also a recipient of that illegal prescription and whom Chabriere of course immediately threatened, also on Twitter. To be fair, neither Chabriere nor Roussel are medical doctors, but they are also totally devoted to Raoult who in turn is a control freak. It is likely, Raoult himself knew about the illegal ivermectin prescriptions and didn’t mind.
Raoult does not care about ethics vote or laws, but he is afraid of vaccines. A reliable source told me in January 2021 that the Guru previously announced in front of his IHU people not to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. In his pre-pandemic book on vaccines, Raoult decreed that DTP (diphtery, tetanus and polio) vaccines as unnessesary and measles vaccines are in his view “useless”.
Same source heard that Raoult recently claimed that chloroquine can even cure some forms of lymphoma, which is a cancer. Maybe Raoult is entering dementia?
And then of course, there was research fraud. One year after her first scoop and undeterred by constant threats against her from Chabriere and even Raoult himself, Elisabeth Bik had another look at Didou’s publication output. She found more fraud.
For starters, Raoult and his IHU subordinates (e.g., Eric Chabriere, Philippe Parola, HCQ evangelist on French TV and in charge of “conflicts of interests” at IHU, Philippe Gautret, first author of the HCQ studies, Jean-Marc Rolain, Editor-in-Chief of the ISAC journal those were published, Bernard Davoust, veterinary professor in the rank of army general) had been running various clinical studies with homeless people in the Marseille area. Microbiological swabs were taken from all possible bodily orifices. But was there an ethics approval? Bik noticed:
“Surprisingly, the IRB approval number listed in this paper (2010-A01406-33) is used for at least 17 studies, including this one. Although all of them involve homeless persons recruited from Marseille shelters, the studies themselves vary in terms of study protocols and treatment/sample collection. The studies vary from collecting lice, treating subjects with drug-impregnated underwear, filling out questionnaires, medical exams, to nasal and pharyngeal sampling, skin swabbing, blood draw, rectal samples, sputum collection, and chest X rays. Moreover, the studies were performed from 2011 to 2020, spanning almost 10 years. […]
There is also confusion about which institution or ethical board approved the study. Some papers state that the study was approved by “our institutional review board”, suggesting that this was a number referring to IRB approval by the Aix-Marseille Université and/or Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée Infection, both listed as author affiliations.
But in other papers, the IRB approval number appears to be an ANSM RCB authorization ID, as per “Informed consent was obtained from these subjects, and the study was approved by the ‘‘Comité de Protection des Personnes Sud Mediterranée’’ on January, 12, 2011 (ID RCB: 2010-A01406-33)“”
As I was informed, there is a simple yet sinister reason for this confusion. Until 2010, Raoult used to obtain his ethical approvals from the local Marseille office of ‘‘Comité de Protection des Personnes Sud Mediterranée’’, who (probably literally) had been licking his rectal orifice. But in 2010, a new law in France stipulated that ethics approvals for clinical studies must be obtained externally, from a randomly assigned Comité in France. So what did Raoult do? Starting from 2010, he simply used that same old 2010-A01406-33 ethics approval for all new clinical trials. The crook never had any real ethics approval for all these many studies he did with the homeless people, for a decade!
Is this illegal? Yes. Can one go to jail for it? Yes. Does this apply to Didier Raoult? No, of course not, this is France after all.
At some point, Raoult stopped giving a flying toss about pretending to apply for ethics approvals. He became his own authority.
This paper, was published in another Raoult-controlled Elsevier journal where the last author Gautret is associate editor.
Thi Loi Dao, Van Thuan Hoang, Tran Duc Anh Ly, Amal Magmoun, Naomie Canard, Tassadit Drali, Florence Fenollar, Laetitia Ninove, Didier Raoult, Philippe Parola, Johan Courjon, Philippe Gautret Infectious disease symptoms and microbial carriage among French medical students travelling abroad: A prospective study Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease (2020) doi: 10.1016/j.tmaid.2019.101548
This is the study’s description:
“A monocentric prospective cohort survey was conducted between June and August 2018 among medical students from the Faculty of Medicine of Aix Marseille University, France, who were planning to undertake an internship abroad during the summer months. Recruitment was done on a voluntary basis, during their vaccination and pre-travel consultation at the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranéee Infection,which is on the Marseille University medical campus. Participants were asked to sign a written informed consent form… “
The students had to provide microbiology swabs from all orifices, vagina and rectum included. The ethics statement goes:
“The protocol was approved by our Institutional Review Board (2019–006). It was performed in accordance with the good clinical practices recommended by the Declaration of Helsinki and its amendments. All participants gave a written informed consent.“
Translation: there never was any proper ethics approval, the trial is simply illegal. And even if Raoult calls his student participants volunteers, it strongly smells of power abuse and even coercion. No wonder Marseille students hate Professor Raoult.
Maybe it kind of makes sense that the relevant French ethics forum La Conférence Nationale des Comités de Protection des Personnes published in February 2021 a position paper denouncing the illegality of using children for clinical trials with HCQ without an ethics approval. Raoult was however never mentioned in the entire 3 page letter. They are all still afraid of him.
After all that, Raoult’s image fakeries seem like poppycock. And yet, Elisabeth Bik persisted.
At one point, Raoult and his IHU colleagues nicked a picture off Wikipedia, re-arranged it, and then passed it off as different things, twice. It was published in Frontiers, which kind of fits.
Kalliopi Georgiades, Didier Raoult Defining pathogenic bacterial species in the genomic era Frontiers in Microbiology (2011) doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2010.00151
Even assuming the Wikipedia user Philippinjl was one of the two paper’s authors or an IHU technician, which might have justified the recycling of the top panel unacknowledged, the second row of the figure (5A(ii)) is the same as 5A(i) but re-arranged, digitally falsified and passed off as a dysentery bacteria test. That is outright research fraud, plus possible plagiarism.
Update 24.03.2021. The original author of the Wikipedia image, Jean-Louis Philippin, contacted Bik via Twitter. He confirmed the misappropriation and declared he never had any collaboration with IHU. Georgiades and Raoult stole his work.
Now have a look at this book chapter Raoult contributed just last year.
This is also outright fraud. What looks like pictures of strips of blotting membrane, are actually Photoshop fakeries. In a new textbook for the students of infectious diseases.
Another Bik find:
E. Botelho-Nevers, F. Gouriet, H. Lepidi, A. Couvret, B. Amphoux, P. Dessi, D. Raoult Chronic nasal infection caused by Klebsiella rhinoscleromatis or Klebsiella ozaenae: two forgotten infectious diseases International journal of infectious diseases (2007) doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2006.10.005
Raoult never gave a toss about what he publishes, the fabricated garbage only had to be sufficiently paper-shaped. Thanks to his system of editorial networks and peer review rings, the academic equivalent to mutual masturbation, anything that Druid of Fraud submitted to certain “peer reviewed” journals got published not just unchecked, but apparently even unread. Like this, the oldest Raoult paper Bik exposed so far:
Didier Raoult, J. C. Laurent, M. Mutillod Monoclonal antibodies to Coxiella burnetii for antigenic detection in cell cultures and in paraffin-embedded tissues American Journal of Clinical Pathology (1994) doi: 10.1093/ajcp/101.3.318
Another old paper shows how data falsification happened at IHU aven before Photoshop. In this paper, figures were faked by the old glue-scissors-paper method.
W Xu , D Raoult Production of monoclonal antibodies against Rickettsia massiliae and their use in antigenic and epidemiological studies Journal of Clinical Microbiology (1997) doi: 10.1128/jcm.35.7.1715-1721.1997
One sees the splicing edges, because apparently gel images were printed out, and assembled with scissors and glue the photographed again as “new” results and labelled in the final figure as different antibody stainings. Maybe in those days, it was Raoult himself who did the creative job?
Even Bik cannot catch everything. In his long career of scientific bullshittery, Raoult published 3,000 of papers via his private journal system. Some of his coauthored studies may be actually good, because IHU is a big place where good people may have once productively worked before they were bullied, harassed, abused sexually and racially, and finally chased out, while the IHU director Raoult put his name on everything coming out of his institute. Also, research fraudsters are very good in stealing, this is what makes some of their work reproducible. But it seems the bulk of Raoult’s studies is either garbage, fraud or recycling of old stuff which is likely also fraudulent. Like this, reusing the exact figure from an earlier paper Angelakis et al Plos One 2012:
Carole Eldin, Emmanouil Angelakis, Aurélie Renvoisé, Didier Raoult Coxiella burnetii DNA, but not viable bacteria, in dairy products in France American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2013) doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.12-0212
The above was flagged by a Twitter user and posted on PubPeer by François-Xavier Coudert. The identical figures refer to very different infectious bacteria, Coxiella in 2013 and Rickettsia in 2012 (one of these, Rickettsia raoultii, was indeed named after you know whom). The 2012 paper has 5 authors, only Raoult and Emmanouil Angelakis are the common authors between the two publications. This constitutes both research fraud and plagiarism.
Here more Raoult shenanigans found by Bik which I already added as update to my old article.
Patricia Renesto, Pierre Dehoux, Edith Gouin, Lhousseine Touqui, Pascale Cossart, Didier Raoult Identification and Characterization of a Phospholipase D–Superfamily Gene in Rickettsiae The Journal of Infectious Diseases (2003) doi: 10.1086/379080
Do you see those recycled gel bands and lane fragments, copy-pasted to mask some undesired antibody signal? This is research fraud. Here by same first and last authors:
P Renesto, J Gouvernet, M Drancourt, V Roux, D Raoult Use of rpoB gene analysis for detection and identification of Bartonella species Journal of Clinical Microbiology (2001) doi: 10.1128/jcm.39.2.430-437.2001
And finally, this one:
Jérôme Dellacasagrande, Eric Ghigo, Sarah Machergui-El, Hammami, Rudolf Toman, Didier Raoult, Christian Capo, Jean-Louis Mege alpha(v)beta(3) integrin and bacterial lipopolysaccharide are involved in Coxiella burnetii-stimulated production of tumor necrosis factor by human monocytes Infection and Immunity (2000) doi: 10.1128/iai.68.10.5673-5678.2000
The first author Jerome Dellacasagrande explained on PubPeer that all concerns were misguided. Even if one can clearly see splice edges where paper printouts of gel bands were glued together. Worth noting that the last author Jean-Louis Mège is in charge of research ethics and “moral” at IHU.
And now, a very interesting case of data manipulation, the last author is Bernard La Scola who is in charge of student affairs and teaching at IHU (basically, the one who deals with student complaints).
Yuefei Yu, Malgorzata Kowalczewska, Philippe Decloquement, Claude Nappez, Bernard La Scola Production of monoclonal antibodies to Tropheryma whipplei and identification of recognized epitopes by two-dimensional electrophoresis and mass spectrometry Journal of Clinical Microbiology (2006) doi: 10.1128/jcm.01714-06
How come Raoult’s name fell off between the accepted manuscript and the published paper? I think I can explain.
In that same year 2006, the publisher of that journal, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), caught Raoult and his 4 IHU coauthors on data fakery and banned them all for one year from publishing in all of ASM journals (details here and here). Which meant an already accepted paper by Raoult would have to be withdrawn, which was avoided by removing him from the authors list. Stupid for ASM now that this Yu et al 2006 paper also proved to contain manipulated data.
Chabriere reacted by claiming that Bik has been extorting IHU for money. He is lying of course, it is all part of his and Raoult’s game to raise a violent neo-Nazi mob to attack their critics.
At which point will it be enough?
This is so disrespectful from Hoya camphorifolia, especially since the last author Michel Drancourt is Raoult’s Adjunct Director at IHU:
Toïdi Adïkambi, Skandar Ben Salah, Mohamed Khlif, Didier Raoult, Michel Drancourt Survival of environmental mycobacteria in Acanthamoeba polyphaga Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2006) doi: 10.1128/aem.03075-05
I forgot to mention that the president of IHU’s scientific council is Laurence Zitvogel, wife of Raoult’s personal friend, Guido Kroemer– the man whom I believe to be the center of data fudgery universe. Both Zitvogel and Kroemer have many papers on PubPeer with falsified data (17 and 67 respectively, 10 of these together).
If you are interested to support my work, you can leave here a small tip of $5. Or several of small tips, just increase the amount as you like (2x=€10; 5x=€25). Imagine you are IHU and I am extorting money from you.