Friday, 10 July 2020

Rats! Penis Enlargement Homeopathy Fraud!

Coming up short: Journal retracts penis enlargement paper after realizing it was homeopathy – Retraction Watch.

In a nice example of the self-correcting nature of science, the editor of the International Journal of Impotence Research - a Springer Nature title - has retracted a paper despite the disagreement of all the authors, because he realised it was a homeopathy promotion with no basis in science.

The paper had slipped past the peer-review process but, when examined in detail fell far short of the standard science normally expects of medical research. It had purported to show that a drug, Impanza, manufactured by OOO NPF Materia Medica Holding, of Moscow, gave rats an enlarged penis and might therefore be useful in treating erectile dysfunction in humans. There were also claims that it increased libido and enhanced intercourse satisfaction!

However, the dose used was so dilute that there was very little chance of even one molecule of the drug being in the test preparation given to the rats, so any result could not be attributed to Impaza with any degree of confidence.

It also transpired that five of the seven authors worked for OOO NPF Materia Medica Holding, a producer of homeopathy preparations, owned by lead author, Oleg I Epstein. Epstein has had several other homeopathy papers retracted for various reasons including conflict of imterest, errors in data, errors in analysis and plagiarism.

The paper, Chu, X., Zhavbert, E., Dugina, J. et al. Effects of chronic treatment with the eNOS stimulator Impaza on penis length and sexual behaviors in rats with a high baseline of sexual activity. Int J Impot Res 26, 35–40 (2014)., had claimed:

[Impanza] enhances endothelial NO synthase activity, restores production of nitric oxide (NO) by the endothelium during sexual stimulation, increases the levels of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) in smooth muscles, and facilitates their relaxation, which leads to increased blood filling of the cavernous bodies. These effects ensure erection of sufficient strength and duration. … Impaza increases libido (sexual desire) and intercourse satisfaction.

However, the retraction notice by the editor states:

The Editor has retracted this article because there are concerns about the scientific validity of the study. Specifically, the reagent is diluted beyond the point to which any active molecules are expected to be present and there is no molecular analysis to support the presence of molecules at these dilutions. These concerns have caused the Editor to lose faith in the reliability of the findings. All authors disagree with this retraction.

Homeopathy, which has no basis in science, like creationism, is desperate to try to convince its dupes that there is some scientific support for its claims. However, dilutions used are, as with this Impanza preparation, so dilute that there are probably no molecules of the claimed active ingredient in it. If the claims that greater dilution leads to greater efficacy were tue, then seawater should be a cure for every known ailment.

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