NMT are suing Dr Wilmshurst. So how trustworthy are this company? Let’s look at their website…

December 11th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, legal chill, libel | 30 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 11 December 2010

You will hopefully remember – from the era before Wikileaks – that US medical device company NMT are suing NHS cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst over his comments about the conduct and results of the MIST trial, which sadly for NMT found no evidence that their device prevents migraine. The MIST trial was funded by NMT, and Wilmshurst was lead investigator until problems arose.

Wilmshurst has already paid £100,000 of his own money to defend himself, risking his house, and spent every weekend and all his annual leave, unpaid, dealing with this, at great cost to his family. So what kind of a company is NMT Medical, that the British libel courts have allowed to hound one man for almost two years? And how trustworthy are their utterances?

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Degrees of consent

October 29th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, regulating research | 8 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 23 October 2010

This month it was revealed that US academics funded by NIH deliberately infected mentally incapacitated patients, prison inmates, sex workers, and soldiers from Guatemala with syphilis, gonorrhea, and chancroid during the 1940s. Read the rest of this entry »

Ghostwriters in the sky

September 18th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, ghostwriters, regulating research | 42 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 18 September 2010

If I tell you that Katie Price did not, necessarily, write her own book, this is not a revelation. From academics I have slightly higher expectations, but now the legal system has spat out another skip full of documents: this time, we get a new insight into the strange phenomenon of medical ghost-writing. Read the rest of this entry »

The power of anecdotes

August 28th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in anecdotes, bad science, big pharma, media, statistics | 53 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 28 August 2010

For simpletons and amateurs, there are good research methods, and bad research methods. In reality, different tools are valuable in different situations, and sometimes, even very tiny numbers of people can give you a meaningful piece of information: even an anecdote can be informative. Read the rest of this entry »

Give us the trial data

August 14th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, libel, publication bias, regulating research | 47 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 14 August 2010

This week the drug company AstraZeneca paid out £125m to settle a class action. Over 17,500 patients claim the company withheld information showing that schizophrenia drug quetiapine (tradename Seroquel) might cause diabetes. Why do companies pay out money before cases get to court?

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I love research about research

July 24th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, regulating research, spin, subgroup analysis, trial registers | 32 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 24 July 2010

There is a pleasing symmetry in the ropey science you get from different players. When GlaxoSmithKline are confronted with an unflattering meta-analysis summarising the results of all 56 trials on one of their treatments, as we saw last week, their defense is to point at 7 positive trials, exactly as a homeopath would do. Politicians will often find a ray of positive sunshine in a failed policy’s appraisal, and promote that to the sky. Newspapers, similarly, will spin science to fit their political agenda, with surreal consequences (the Telegraph have claimed recently that shopping causes infertility in men, and the Daily Mail reckon housework prevents breast cancer in women).

But does the same thing happen in formal academic research?

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Pharmaco-epidemiology would be fascinating enough even if society didn’t manage it really really badly

July 17th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, bullying, publication bias, regulating research, trial registers | 22 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 17 July 2010

This week the FDA voted not to ban GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug rosiglitazone (brand name Avandia). Their vote has been reported as a victory for the company. I don’t think so: this saga tells an ugly story about our collective medical incompetence.

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Peep peep.

May 15th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, whistleblowers | 20 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 15 May 2010

It’s worth paying attention to medicine, because when it goes wrong, people suffer and die. But how do we know when things are going wrong? This week the BMA produced a report on whistleblowers. Of the 384 doctors they surveyed (with a dismal response rate of 12%, we should be clear): 40% said they would be too frightened of repercussions to report concerns about patient safety. Of those who had spoken out on an issue, one in ten were told this could have a negative impact on their careers. But are they being melodramatic? And what if life for whistleblowers was better?

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Doing nothing

March 19th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, competing interests, conflict of interest, doing nothing, evidence | 53 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 20 March 2010

I don’t write about stories where someone has a conflict of interest, in general, because there are no interesting scientific ideas in them: such stories are a way for people who don’t understand the technicalities of science to give the illusion of critiquing it. But it’s still disappointing to see companies being so much better at getting media coverage for their ideas than everyday folk. Read the rest of this entry »

Obvious quacks: the tip of a scary medical iceberg

February 26th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, alternative medicine, bad science, big pharma, evidence, regulating research | 121 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 27 February, 2010

After the Science and Technology committee report this week, and the jaw dropping stupidity of “we bring you both sides” in the media coverage afterwards, you are bored of homeopathy. So am I, but it gives a very simple window into the wider disasters in all of medicine. Read the rest of this entry »