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 »
The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee are currently looking at the problem of clinical trial results being withheld from doctors and patients (partly, the committee says, in response to Bad Pharma, which is heartening). A clear, thoughtful report and policy recommendations from this committee could be an important step towards fixing these problems.
I gave oral evidence this week on a panel with Roche, GSK, and the ABPI (who have previously tried to pretend that all the issues in Bad Pharma were “historic” and “long addressed”). I’ve posted the video below, and I’ve posted my written evidence underneath that. First is my submission addressing the specific questions posed by the Committee, and then my appendix, giving background on the problem of withheld trial results. Read the rest of this entry »
I was on Newsnight this evening, discussing the measles outbreak in Swansea, and how we can get people vaccinated with MMR when they’ve previously refused. In my view: prevention is better than cure, it’s hard to reverse a scare story once the toothpaste is out of the tube, and we must innoculate ourselves against future vaccine scares, because they will come. That’s why services like Behind The Headlines are important. Here’s the video:
At the end, Jeremy Paxman seemed (endearingly) amazed to hear that vaccine scares respect local cultural boundaries. Here’s what I was discussing, in an extract from my first book Bad Science (this bit’s from pages 292-4 of the red paperback):
GSK have just this minute announced that they are signing up to the alltrials.net campaign.
This will be written in a hurry. Briefly: the results of clinical trials have been routinely withheld from doctors and patients throughout medicine, and this problem has not been fixed. The www.alltrials.net campaign is asking for all trials to be registered, for all summary results to be reported, and for full Clinical Study Reports to be made publicly available. CSRs are important, because it is now clear that brief summaries about trials (such as academic journal articles) can be incomplete or misleading. Last Friday I met with Andrew Witty, the head of GSK, to discuss these concerns, and it was clear that they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these issues.
I couldn’t be any happier. This is huge, and internationally huge. GSK have made a commitment to post CSRs online. Read the rest of this entry »
Bad Pharma is out in the US and Canada on 5th Feb, which is extremely good news (sorry about the delay, floods and hurricanes apparently..). I’ll be doing a few public lectures in various places, alongside media stuff and other things, there’s a list of open ones below.
If you’re a US podcaster or blogger and you want to chat about bad behaviour in the pharma industry then do please email the three of us (Brian.Gittis@fsgbooks.com email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org).
Also: in the UK I’ve done a gazillion talks, and the most fun things always come from random people. So if from the list below it looks like I’m passing through your town and you want me to do a talk in your university, a pub, or an event, or you think there’s someone I should meet, a campaigner, an academic, a journalist, then please contact email@example.com for Canada, and Brian.Gittis@fsgbooks.com for the US. Do also cc me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll try to fit it in around the various bits of other work while I’m out there.
You can buy the US edition of Bad Pharma here.
Sun 17th Feb 7:30pm
Powell’s Bookstore, 1005 West Burnside.
Talk, Q&A, and signing
Mon 18th Feb 7:30pm
Town Hall, downstairs, enter on Seneca Street
Talk, Q&A, and signing:
NEW YORK CITY, NY
Thurs 21st Feb 7:00pm
Talk, Q&A, and signing
NYC Skeptics at University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street
Friday, 15th Feb, 7:30pm
Massey College lecture, free and open to the public.
Thursday 14th Feb, 6pm-8pm
Pub talk organised by @julia, free, open to all
Excellent to see the UK House Of Commons Health Select Committee making such a clear statement about the ongoing problem of missing trial results, which the ABPI have laughably claimed is “historic“.
They call upon NICE, the GMC and the pharmaceutical industry to address the problem, and they also take a very strong clear position: that withholding the results of clinical trials should be neither legal nor ethical. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a documentary I made for BBC Radio 4 (with producer Rami Tzabar) about evidence based social policy, and why we should do more randomised trials in government. It’s good fun, 40 minutes, with contributions from Dean Karlan (who wrote this book and is behind all these excellent trials on reducing poverty), Prof Sheila Bird, Jonathan Portes from NIESR (his excellent blog here), the man they call GOD, and many more.
It’s also Radio 4 documentary of the week (woo!) which means you can download it as an mp3. The link is live for another 5 days, and it works for some countries outside the UK too.
And now that it’s expired on iPlayer, you can listen to it on FigShare here:
If you’re interested in reading more evidence based policy, I highly recommend this Cabinet Office paper that I co-authored a few months ago, downloadable for free online. As explained here, it’s brief, and very much designed to be the Ladybird Book of RCTs in Government. If you want more on the uses for randomised trials in criminal justice, I wrote this in the British Medical Journal with Sheila Bird and John Strang in 2011 (sorry it’s not open access, I’ll try to fix that soon). More to come on this topic soon. Read the rest of this entry »