WITHDRAWN: Zinc for the common cold

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Apr 30;2015(4):CD001364. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub5.


September 2016 updated withdrawal notice This Cochrane Review was withdrawn in April 2015, and this withdrawal notice was updated in September 2016.

The review was withdrawn as result of comments submitted via the Cochrane Library by Harri Hemilä in February 2015. Hemilä identified multiple errors in this Cochrane Review and made allegations of plagiarism of text and data from a previously published systematic review (Hemilä H. Zinc Lozenges may shorten the duration of colds: a systematic review. Open Respiratory Medicine Journal 2011;5:51‐58. dx.doi.org/10.2174/1874306401105010051). The comments referred to the version of this review first published in June 2013 (Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013;(6):CD001364. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub4/full).

The Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group, which maintains the review, withdrew the review in April 2015, pending an assessment of the errors reported, and the group referred the allegations of plagiarism to the Editor in Chief. The Editor in Chief notified the authors of the concerns, and followed the Committee for Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines.

Replication of text was identified in the Cochrane Review. This was limited to copying of short phrases and was acknowledged by the authors. The level of text plagiarism was minor and at a level that would be addressed by a correction. The Editor in Chief carried out further investigation into the alleged plagiarism of data, with the co‐operation of the review authors, who provided supplementary information in support of their work. The allegations related to the derivation of means and standard deviations of data from some of the included studies. Although the authors acknowledge and cite the Hemilä 2011 review, the Editor in Chief considered that the authors’ explanation regarding some similarities in presented data between the two reviews was not conclusive.

This version of the review will therefore remain withdrawn.

April 2015 withdrawal notice This review was withdrawn due to concerns raised via the feedback mechanism regarding the calculation and analysis of data in the review in April 2015. Whilst it is not unusual for reviews to be withdrawn, the editorial group took the view that it would be better to take a cautious approach and explore the source and calculation of data used in the analysis in more detail, rather than keep the review on the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for the time being.

The editorial group responsible for this previously published document have withdrawn it from publication.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Common Cold / drug therapy*
  • Common Cold / prevention & control
  • Dosage Forms
  • Gluconates / adverse effects
  • Gluconates / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Zinc / adverse effects
  • Zinc / therapeutic use
  • Zinc Acetate / adverse effects
  • Zinc Acetate / therapeutic use
  • Zinc Compounds / adverse effects
  • Zinc Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Zinc Sulfate / adverse effects
  • Zinc Sulfate / therapeutic use


  • Dosage Forms
  • Gluconates
  • Zinc Compounds
  • Zinc Sulfate
  • Zinc Acetate
  • Zinc
  • gluconic acid