When ethics committees kill

March 26th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in regulating research | 41 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 26 March 2011

Every now and then, very occasionally, a government will do something awesomely good. The budget contains plans for a new unified Health Research Regulatory Agency to streamline the regulations on clinical trials, and so make them cheaper and easier to run. Read the rest of this entry »

Why don’t journalists link to primary sources?

March 19th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 65 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 19 March 2011

Why don’t journalists link to primary sources? Whether it’s a press release, an academic journal article, a formal report, or perhaps (if everyone’s feeling brave) the full transcript of an interview, the primary source contains more information for interested readers, it shows your working, and it allows people to check whether what you wrote was true. Perhaps linking to primary sources would just be too embarrassing. Here are three short stories. Read the rest of this entry »

Why cigarette packs matter

March 12th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 66 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 12 March 2011

This week our government committed itself to the removal, albeit slowly, of cigarette displays in shops. But plain packaging on cigarettes has been delayed for further consultation.

The Unite union is unimpressed. They represent 6,000 people in tobacco production and distribution, and put out a statement: “Switching to plain packaging will make it easier to sell their illicit and unregulated products, especially to young people”. This “may increase long-term health problems”. Tory MP Philip Davies says: “plain packaging for cigarettes would be gesture politics… it would have no basis in evidence.”

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not, sadly, their own facts. Cigarette packaging has been used for brand building and sales expansion, and that is bad enough: but it has also been used for many decades to sell the crucial lie that cigarettes which are “light”, “mild”, “silver”, and the rest, are somehow “safer”. Read the rest of this entry »

EudraCT, the clinical trials transparency tool held in secret

March 5th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, conflict of interest, publication bias | 17 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 5 March 2011

The European Medicines Agency now regulate the pharmaceutical industry throughout the whole of Europe. In December 2010 Thomas Lonngren stepped down as their executive director. On the 28th of that month he sent a letter telling the EMA management board that he was going to start working as a private consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, in three days time, on 1 January 2011.
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