Public Accounts Committee issues damning report on clinical trial results being withheld

January 3rd, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in alltrials campaign, badpharma | 1 Comment »

Screenshot 2014-01-03 21.55.17MPs on the UK parliament’s Public Accounts Committee today issued one of the most damning reports ever seen on the problem of clinical trial results being withheld. Their amazement at the extent of the problem is palpable. This is a fantastic result for the campaign that started with Iain Chalmers et al many years ago, grew with the publication of Bad Pharma, and is now transformed into a vast behemoth with widespread support at AllTrials. You can read the Committee’s report in full here, and see the video of the evidence session with me and Fi Godlee from the BMJ here. I should say, I’ve been hugely impressed by the MPs I’ve come into contact with on this issue.

There has been extensive media coverage so far, some of the best (the ones that go beyond the Committee’s press release…) can be found in: the Independent, the Telegraph, the BBC, PharmaTimes and the Times (regarding that last article, I wonder if Bina Rawal of the ABPI will come to regret claiming that Richard Bacon, the deputy chair of the highly influential Public Accounts Committee, has been misleading people: the current regime at the ABPI do seem rather clumsy, more on their activities to come). Next, here is an article by David Tovey, head of Cochrane, one from Ginny Barbour, the big medical cheese at PLOS, and here is the BMJ news piece. Here’s a comment piece by Matt Ridley in the Times (caution: contains climate lols), and here’s a comment piece from me in The Guardian. There’ll be an editorial in the BMJ shortly.

There’s also extensive commentary in our press release at Here’s my bit from that press release: Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s my… foreword to the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway guidebook

December 20th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 3 Comments »

I often tweet about my love for the RH&D narrow gauge railway, and this year they asked me to write an introduction for their guidebook. Some of the staff were worried by what I sent. But they were wrong. I love this railway. Here’s the piece. Read the rest of this entry »

FREE! Here is the new “What Happened Next?” update chapter from Bad Pharma 2013

December 19th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 1 Comment »

20130923_200935-MOTIONHere 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 »

Here’s our letter to the GMC, about addressing systemic failures in the medical profession

December 17th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in badpharma, competing interests, conflict of interest, publication bias, regulating research | No Comments »

The GMC are focused mainly on the narrow issue of an individual doctor’s competence when seeing individual patients. But there are broader issues that have an equally important impact on patient care and public trust: failure to publish clinical trials, failure to participate in research, and imperfectly declared conflicts of interest, for example.

The Health Select Committee have an annual review with the GMC to discuss how they’re getting on. Here’s a letter I wrote to them, along with Iain Chalmers, Fiona Godlee and Trish Groves of the BMJ, and Ginny Barbour from PLoS. We suggest some actions the GMC could take to improve patient care on all these issues. Below that is the video of the committee raising our concerns with the GMC. Broadly speaking: the GMC said they’d have a think. This is forward movement, and there’s more to come next year, with the launch of something interesting, new, and fun (and currently a bit secret…). Read the rest of this entry »

The very strange saga of the “Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group”

December 17th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in ABPI, badpharma, ESHLSG | 2 Comments »

Still catching up on posting things from this year. Here’s a piece I wrote in the BMJ with medical student colleagues about an extraordinary, influential, and rather depressing organisation called the “Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group”. This was a committee of the great and good in medicine, co-chaired by Sir Richard Thompson of the Royal College of Physicians, and Deepak Khanna of the ABPI (the chap who very oddly claimed that I refused to meet him). Read the rest of this entry »

RandomiseMe: our fun new website that lets anyone design and run a randomised controlled trial.

December 16th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 1 Comment »

Screenshot 2013-12-16 14.46.15Catching 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 »

We should teach epidemiology in schools.

December 14th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in epidemiology, schools | 5 Comments »

Just catching up with posting things from this year, here’s an editorial in The Lancet from Paul Fine, Andy Haines and me. We argue that epidemiology is the unsung hidden hand, whose techniques underpin a huge chunk of our causal reasoning about the world. It has helped to guide technical specialties like economics, but it’s also vital to everday lay thinking around what’s good for our health, or bad for us: and so it should be taught in schools. As I said yesterday, Bad Science and Bad Pharma are both essentially epidemiology textbooks with bad guys.  Read the rest of this entry »

Bicycle Helmets and the law: a perfect teaching case for epidemiology.

December 13th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in epidemiology, risk, statistics | 14 Comments »

Hi all, I haven’t posted much on due to exciting home events, fun dayjob activity, a ton of behind-the-scenes work on trials transparency with, activity on policy RCTs, exciting websites, and a zillion talks.  I’m going to post this year’s backlog over the next week or two (and maybe rejig the site if I get a chance). So first up…

Here’s an editorial I wrote in the British Medical Journal with David Spiegelhalter, about the complex contradictory mess of evidence on the impact of bicycle helmets. Like most places where there’s controversy and disagreement, this is a great opportunity to walk through the benefits and shortcomings of different epidemiological techniques, from case control studies to modelling. Epidemiology is my dayjob; Bad Science and Bad Pharma are both, effectively, epidemiology textbooks with bad guys; and since the techniques of epidemiology are at the core of most media stories and squabbles on health, it’s very weird that you don’t hear the word more often. More on that in another journal article, which I’ll post later on! Read the rest of this entry »

Why – and how – I wrote Bad Pharma

October 8th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 21 Comments »

This is my piece for Waterstones Book Club, where I was asked to write about why – and how – I wrote Bad Pharma. The full book club caboodle is here, and you can buy the book here.

Here it is… Read the rest of this entry »

I totally just walked past a tube advert for my book.

October 3rd, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 3 Comments »

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.