Hi there, sorry to be absent (dayjob!). I was surprised to see a study I’m a co-author on getting some front page media play today, under the headline “Statins ‘have no side effects'”. That’s not what our paper found. But it was an interesting piece of work, with an odd result, looking at side effects in randomised trials of statins: specifically, and unusually, it compares the reports of side effects among people on statins in trials, against the reports of side effects from trial participants who were only getting a dummy placebo sugar pill. Read the rest of this entry »
Statins have no side effects? What our study really found, its fixable flaws, and why trials transparency matters (again).
I wrote this piece in the Guardian on clinical trial results being withheld, and the staggering denialism from diverse players including industry, the Royal Colleges, the MHRA, David Cameron, and more. This denialism has slowed progress on the issue, and cost lives. It’s my view, frankly, that people should be sacked – and presidents dismissed – over the appalling ESHLSG debacle, which gave false reassurance on vitally important matters of patient safety. The public, quite reasonably, expect better of medical leaders, especially when technical matters are entrusted to their care. Perhaps I’m wrong. In any case: the tide has turned, the public are watching, the professions are finally fully on side. We must celebrate that and move forward: now is the time to act. Here is a link to my piece, and here is the final two paragraphs.
Here is the extra update chapter from the new 2013 paperback edition of Bad Pharma. It’s a fun romp through the changes that have happened over the past year or so, starring the many ethical professionals in pharma and medicine who have tried to push things forward, and some very shameful denialism from people in positions of “leadership”. There are some very interesting imperfections in medicine, they cost lives, and they can all be easily fixed, where there is common sense and good-will.
It’s all much more fun if you’ve read the book itself. As always, if you like what I do, and want me to do more: buy my books and give them to your friends. Apart from anything else, it scares the enemy. You can find Bad Pharma here on…
… Amazon ……….
…….. Waterstones ……
……………… or Hive.
So, here Read the rest of this entry »
Catching up and blogging this year’s activities: here’s a fun website I made with my friend Carl Reynolds, fellow doctor behind NHS HackDays (where nerds who love the NHS build useful tools). RandomiseMe lets you design and run randomised controlled trials, either on yourself, or on your friends. You can do a trial to see if your new trainers let you run faster than your old ones, find out if cheese gives you nightmares, or club together with friends and work out which kind of gloopy abdomen baste is best at preventing stretch marks in pregnancy. Read the rest of this entry »
You might not find this as weird as I do, but I totally just walked past a tube advert for my book. SO: there’s a lovely new edition of Bad Pharma out this month, with a spanking extra chapter about all the bad things that naughty people like the ABPI and EFPIA have done in campaigning against trials transparency, and all the good things that lovely people like the BMA and EMA have done to advance the cause of patient safety. More to come on all this, but until then: here’s an unnecessary animated gif of me tooling around, via a baffled tourist on the platform.
This week in the BMJ there’s a head-to-head on trials transparency between me and PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry representative body in the US. My article is here, PhRMA’s is here, both articles are open access for one week (since it was press released, them’s the rules at the BMJ…) but mine is open access forever, I think, on this link.
The article from PhRMA is remarkable. Firstly, they imply that people like me, who call for all trial results to be reported, also somehow call for the reckless disclosure of individual patients’ electronic health records online. This is untrue.
More disturbing is PhRMA’s suggestion that the problem has already been fixed. For example, John Castellani says that “information on clinical trials for potential new medicines is already required by US law to be posted on ClinicalTrials.gov“. As I explain in my piece, the best available published evidence on compliance with this law comes from Prayle et al, BMJ 2012: in reality, the legislation here has been very widely ignored.
We need to fix the problem of withheld results. Doctors (and patients, and researchers, and payers, and the public) need access to all the results, of all the trials, on all the uses, of all the treatments currently being prescribed, in order to make informed decisions about which is best.
More in the articles, and for even more on why this matters for patient care, I recommend the first chapter of Bad Pharma.
Reading about the badger cull today, I noticed this column – on the evidence for badger culls – never got posted. Here it is!
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 23 July 2011
Squabbles between farmers and animal rights’ protesters bore me senseless. This week, environment secretary Caroline Spelman announced that the scientific evidence supports her new policy of farmers killingbadgers to prevent bovine TB. It’s an overstatement, but more importantly, this story walks through several important issues in science. Read the rest of this entry »
This is very odd indeed. Westminster, one of the most expensive public schools in the UK, is holding a fund-raising auction. In this auction, you can buy an internship at Imperial College’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering, on the promise that this will look great on your CV. Read the rest of this entry »