Matthias Rath – steal this chapter

April 9th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in africa, alternative medicine, bad science, BANT, book, death, matthias rath, nutritionists | 129 Comments »

imageThis is the “missing chapter” about vitamin pill salesman Matthias Rath. Sadly I was unable to write about him at the time that book was initially published, as he was suing my ass in the High Court. The chapter is now available in the new paperback edition, and I’ve posted it here for free so that nobody loses out.

Although the publishers make a slightly melodramatic fuss about this in the promo material, it is a very serious story about the dangers of pseudoscience, as I hope you’ll see, and it was also a pretty unpleasant episode, not just for me, but also for the many other people he’s tried to sue, including Medecins Sans Frontieres and more. If you’re ever looking for a warning sign that you’re on the wrong side of an argument, suing Medecins Sans Frontieres is probably a pretty good clue.

Anyway, here it is, please steal it, print it, repost it, whatever, it’s free under a Creative Commons license, details at the end. If you prefer it is available as a PDF here, or as a word document here. Happy Easter!

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Rather brilliantly I have been plagiarised by the Times…

December 12th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in onanism | 20 Comments »

Who have a new column called…

…ummm…. Read the rest of this entry »

Matthias Rath drops his million pound legal case against me and the Guardian.

September 12th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in africa, matthias rath | 119 Comments »

It’s just been publicly announced that the vitamin pill magnate Matthias Rath has pulled out of his gruelling legal case against me and the Guardian. He bought full page adverts denouncing Aids drugs while promoting his vitamin pills in South Africa, a country where hundreds of thousands die every year from Aids under an HIV denialist president and the population is ripe for miracle cures. I said his actions were highly worrying, in no uncertain terms. I believe I was right to do so.

This libel case has drawn on for over a year, with the writ hanging both in my toilet, and over my head. Although fighting it has been fascinating, and in many respects a great pleasure, it has also taken a phenomenal amount of my time, entirely unpaid, to deal with it. For the duration of the case I have also been silenced on the serious issues that Rath’s activities raise, the chapter on his work was pulled from my book, and I have been unable to comment on his further movements around the world.

This will now change, Read the rest of this entry »

A rather long build up to one punchline

December 8th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in badscience, mail, scare stories | 39 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday December 8 2007

The Daily Mail, as you know, is engaged in a philosophical project of mythic proportions: for many years now it has diligently been sifting through all the inanimate objects in the world, soberly dividing them into the ones which either cause – or cure – cancer. The only tragedy is that one day, amongst the noise, they might genuinely be on to something, and we would simply laugh.
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Matthias Rath In London

March 26th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in africa, bad science, matthias rath, nutritionists | 45 Comments »

Here’s a thing: video of Matthias Rath speaking at a rally in London on Saturday March 24 2007 to rapturous applause.

For those who don’t remember, Matthias Rath is the German vitamin entrepreneur who sells his proprietary vitamin pills to people dying of AIDS in South Africa Read the rest of this entry »

Evidence to House of Commons Sci Tech Select Committee on Research Integrity

December 5th, 2017 by Ben Goldacre in alltrials campaign, publication bias | No Comments »

Sorry not to be in regular blogging mode at the moment. Here’s a video of our evidence session to parliament, where they are running an inquiry into research integrity. I think clinical trials are the best possible way to approach this issue. Lots of things in “research integrity” are hard to capture in hard logical rules,  so you end up with waffly “concordats” and rules that are applied inconsistently. With clinical trials you can make clear rules, you can measure compliance, and you can enforce compliance. There is lots of chat about this in the video below from 17:37 with me, Simon Read the rest of this entry »

How do the world’s biggest drug companies compare, in their transparency commitments?

July 27th, 2017 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | No Comments »

Here’s a paper, and associated website, that we launch today: we have assessed, and then ranked, all the biggest drug companies in the world, to compare their public commitments on trials transparency. Regular readers will be familiar with this ongoing battle. In medicine we use the results of clinical trials to make informed treatments about which treatments work best; but the results of clinical trials are being routinely and legally withheld from doctors, researchers, and patients. This is a problem for industry sponsored trials, and for trials funded by governments and charities.

So what did we find? The results on the individual companies are important, but we also came across some fascinating patterns. While companies superficially have commitments to register and report clinical trials, in reality, there are often huge gaps in their policies, with many failing to include past trials (trials on the medicines we use today) and trials on off-label uses or unlicensed medicines, which are both important. We also found a huge range of commitments, which is exactly what audits are good for: identify who’s doing well, and who’s doing badly, so that everyone can learn from the best players. Lastly, as we went along we collected some fascinating examples of problematic policies, ambiguous language, inconsistent commitments, odd exclusions, and so on.

Overall this audit was a huge project, and we hope it will be widely used. You can see which companies are the best, and the worst. If you’re a researcher trying to get information on a trial from a company, you can use this to determine whether a company are breaching their commitments. If you’re an ethical investor (at the AllTrials campaign we have a network of dozens, covering €3.5t trillion of investments) you can use this to guide your activist investment choices. 

The full methods and results can be read, for free, in the paper. But we’ve also built a nice interactive website with mySociety (coming soon) to make the data more accessible. We think this is an important aspect of communicating results and making them useful, and used, and we’re keen for feedback on the site.

Coming next, we have ranked the policies of non-industry trial funders, and that paper will land shortly. We also have some great new and improved projects launching soon where we track the performance of institutions, rather than their promises: the proportion of their completed trials for which they have shared results. Meanwhile, you can read more about the battle for unreported clinical trials at


The Cancer Drugs Fund is producing dangerous, bad data: randomise everyone, everywhere!

September 28th, 2016 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 6 Comments »

There are recurring howls in my work. One of them is this: in general, if you don’t know which intervention works best, then you should randomise everyone, everywhere. This is for good reason: uncertainty costs lives, through sub-optimal treatment. Wherever randomised trials are the right approach, you should embed them in routine clinical care.

This is an argument I’ve made, with colleagues, in endless different places. New diabetes drugs are approved with woeful data, small numbers of patients in trials that only measure blood tests, rather than real-world outcomes such as heart attack, renal failure, or death: so let’s roll out new diabetes treatments in the NHS through randomised trials. We rely on observational studies to establish whether Tamiflu reduces complications of pneumonia: that’s silly, we can do trials, and we should. Statin treatment regimes in widespread use have never been compared head-to-head, using real-world outcomes such as heart attack, stroke, and death: so let’s embed randomised trials as cheaply as possible in routine clinical care (we’ve done two pilots, to document the barriers).

This week a dozen colleagues and I published yet another application of this basic, simple principle, as an editorial in the BMJ. The Cancer Drugs Fund is being marketed as a way to generate new knowledge: but in reality, the data that will be collected is weak, Read the rest of this entry »

So this company Cyagen is paying authors for citations in academic papers.

August 14th, 2015 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 27 Comments »

Screenshot 2015-08-14 15.57.24Here’s a strange thing, a seedy curio rather than a massive scandal, but I’d be interested to know what you make of it. This week lots of academics all received the same unsolicited marketing email from a large well known research company called Cyagen, who make transgenic mice, stem cells, and so on. The email was headed “Rewards for your publications”. In it, Cyagen make a rather strange offer: “We are giving away $100 or more in rewards for citing us in your publication!”.

The business model is very specific: if you cite them in an academic paper then you get $100, multiplied by the Impact Factor of the journal (a widely used measure of the journal’s influence). So if you cite them in the New England Journal of Medicine, which has an impact factor of 56, then you will receive $5600 from Cyagen. If you cite them in the British Medical Journal, you get $1700. And so on. Read the rest of this entry »

Fixing flaws in science must be professionalised. By me in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.

July 10th, 2015 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 6 Comments »

Me and a dozen other academics all just wrote basically the same thing about Open Science in the Journal Of Clinical Epidemiology. After the technical bits, me and Tracey get our tank out. That’s for a reason: publishing academic papers about structural problems in science is a necessary condition for change, but it’s not sufficient. We don’t need any more cohort studies on the global public health problem of publication bias; we need action, of which the campaign is just one example (and as part of that, we do still need many more audits giving performance figures on individual companies, researchers and institutions, as I explain here). We have a paper coming shortly on the methods and strategies of the AllTrials campaign that I hope will shed a little more light on this, because policy change for public health is a professional activity, not a hobby. Where academics are sneery about implementation, problems go unsolved, and patients are harmed.

Ironically all these papers on Open Science are behind an academic paywall. The full final text of our paper is posted below. If you’re an academic and you’ve ever wondered whether you’re allowed to do this, but felt overwhelmed by complex terms and conditions, you can check every academic journal’s blanket policy very easily here.

And lastly, if you’re in a hurry: the last two paragraphs are the money shot. Enjoy.


Fixing flaws in science must be professionalised. Read the rest of this entry »