News - 18 Dec `18Well, this is embarrassing ...


One of the most important developments of 2018, in my mind, was the “academic science scam.” It probably has a bigger effect on your life than you realize, so follow my thoughts for a minute.

There’s plenty of evidence that most published academic studies can’t be reproduced independently, hence are worthless or worse. Last month, I mentioned a story about retraction of 30-plus papers authored by three prominent researchers at the Harvard Medical School lab. Well, ex-Harvard now ... Pretty embarrassing for everyone, uh?

The poor state of academic research is well known to specialists, but generally the topic is still a taboo. For obvious reasons, most researchers who need funding are motivated to keep their mouths shut about problems they had encountered along the way. Certainly, there are some respectable scientists and university departments that maintain the highest ethical standards but their work is tainted by the junk science generated by their peers.

Similarly, most scientific publishers face the same dilemma. As an editor for Dermatologic Therapy, I can say that we often flag and remove a lot of questionable papers, yet some may slip through. And I won’t even get into a poorer state of meta-reviews here (if you’re interested to learn more, check out "A No-Nonsense Guide To Vitiligo" in our Bookstore.)

Still with me? It’s a tough read, I know... Falsified data and fake discoveries are not just a spectacular waste of billions of dollars annually. They also misdirect research and product development, and probably are responsible for a mediocre average 8% success rate of drug development. We’ll never really know why of some promising candidates for vitiligo therapy fell of the radar this year. Did they fail in the latest round because someone “tweaked” research data beforehand? The good news are, other candidates in the pharmaceutical pipeline have not been eliminated yet and I have high hopes for 2019.

On the smaller scale, I see two promising products: a herb-based topical gel for vitiligo coming from Argentina, sometime in spring’19. Another one is a well-known yet greatly improved vitiligo camouflage from Zanderm, now officially available in India.

Stay tuned for the last newsletter of the year in a few days.

Happy holidays!

Yan Valle


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