Questions in Parliament, and a briefing note on missing trials: updated.

October 23rd, 2012 by Ben Goldacre in big pharma, hiding data, publication bias | 4 Comments »

This morning at 11:30, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP will ask questions in parliament about the ongoing scandal of missing trial data. This is widely recognised as a problem by academics and doctors, but governments, regulators, and journalists have neglected the problem, while industry simply denies it. Watch the questions live here or watch it later here.

As an example, we spent £500m stockpiling Tamiflu in the UK, but the company Roche are still withholding vitally important information about the trials on whether it works from Cochrane, the international academic collaboration who make gold standard reviews of evidence for doctors, patients, and governments.

Apparently this morning the Department of Health issued a statement to the Today Programme stating that all data from all trials on all drugs is already available by law. This is not true: but there may have been a communication problem, I am hoping to obtain a copy of this statement, and if you have one, please send it to ben@badscience.net

Here are two articles from the Times today, on this issue. The first is a comment piece (by me). The second is a news piece about the growing number of doctors and academics speaking out on this issue, including editors of major journals, founders and directors of Cochrane, senior medics and academics, etc.  Read the rest of this entry »

By me in the BMJ: the dodginess of drug company trials

December 1st, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, hiding data, regulating research, statistics, subgroup analysis, systematic reviews, trial registers | 73 Comments »

Here’s a piece by me in the British Medical Journal this week, published online already, and in the print edition this Friday. It’s a head to head with Vincent Lawton, who until recently was head of Merck in the UK. Briefly, I set out the quantitative evidence demonstrating the scale of the problem, and he says: “oh, we’ve fixed everything now, and anyway some academic trials are dodgy too, here’s one what I found”. That’s a paraphrase, you can read his response for free on the BMJ website here, since they’ve decided that this is an important issue which deserves open access. If you’ve got something really clever to say about these pieces then you might also want to comment in the “Rabid Response” section of the BMJ version of either article.

We were going to have a debate on the Today programme on Monday morning, and then tomorrow morning, but unfortunately it’s been ditched. If you work in mainstream media and would like to cover this issue I’m always keen, and amazingly easy to get hold of, ben@badscience.net. Although I realise that your idea of a meaningful critique of the crimes of big pharma is “chemotherapy hurt my grandma that’s why I love vitamin pills and hate teh vaxxines lol freedom”. Read the rest of this entry »

And now, nerd news

October 3rd, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, hiding data, regulating research, systematic reviews, trial registers, vaccines | 34 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, Saturday 3 October 2009, The Guardian.

There are some very obvious problems that never seem to go away. Right now I can see 1,592 articles on Google News about one poor girl who died unexpectedly after receiving the cervical vaccine, and only 363 explaining that the post mortem found a massive and previously undiagnosed tumour in her chest. Meanwhile the Daily Mail this week continue their oncological ontology project with the magnificent headline: “Daily dose of housework could cut risk of breast cancer”.

Read the rest of this entry »

A quick fix would stop drug firms bending the truth

February 26th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, hiding data, regulating research, systematic reviews | 43 Comments »

It’s not just about Prozac. Our failure to properly regulate testing in the pharmaceutical industry has devastating costs

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Wednesday February 27 2008

Yesterday the journal PLoS Medicine published a study which combined the results of 47 trials on some antidepressant drugs, including Prozac, and found only minimal benefits over placebo, except for the most depressed patients. It has been misreported as a definitive nail in the coffin: this is not true. It was a restricted analysis [see below] but, more importantly, on the question of antidepressants, it added very little. We already knew that SSRIs give only a modest benefit in mild and moderate depression and, indeed, for some time now, the NICE guidelines themselves have actively advised against using them in milder cases since Read the rest of this entry »