I did this talk at TEDglobal last year. It’s just hit a million views, and I realised I’ve never posted it online here. Hope you like it!
My book Bad Pharma documents serious ongoing problems in the pharmaceutical industry. In particular, I show how vitally important information from clinical trials is still being withheld from doctors and patients, right now, today; and that patients experience avoidable suffering and death as a consequence. There is no nicer way to express that reality, and this ongoing problem of missing data is meticulously documented in the book, because it is widely discussed in the medical literature.
I am very sorry to say that the ABPI, the UK pharmaceutical industry PR group, has now responded, and their only response has been to flatly deny what is plainly and provably true. Here is their press release, Read the rest of this entry »
I did a new talk at TED about drug companies hiding the results of clinical trials, it went up today. This is a huge, ongoing problem, and it results in patients suffering and dying unnecessarily. So I’m really pleased that TED were able to give the story a platform. Video after the click: Read the rest of this entry »
My new book Bad Pharma is out today. It describes how drug companies harm patients, around the world, by distorting evidence on an industrial scale. More than that, it shows how doctors, academics, and regulators have all failed to fix these problems. Bad practices have been perpetuated, because the public have not understood the true scale of the disaster. If this book is not ignored, it will make certain current public positions from industry, and from regulators, untenable. That will be the beginning of fixing the problem, and for the rest, I need your help.
But first, with kind permission of the publishers, here’s the introduction. I hope you like it.
I’ve spent a lot of time arguing that government should be more evidence based, and that wherever possible, we should do randomised trials to find out which policy intervention works best. We often have no idea whether the things we do in government actually work or not, and achieve their stated goals. This is a disaster.
So, with my grown up hat on, here’s a Cabinet Office paper I co-wrote with some government people on exactly this topic. We explain why randomised trials of policy are so powerful; we explain exactly how to do them; and we explain how to identify a meaningful policy question that can be explored cheaply in a good quality trial. Read the rest of this entry »
I forgot to post this column up last year. It’s a fun one: the Department for Communities and Local Government have produced a truly farcical piece of evidence, and promoted it very hard, claiming it as good stats. I noticed the column was missing today, because Private Eye have published on the same report in their current issue, finding emails that have gone missing through FOI applications, and other nonsense. That part is all neatly summarised online in the Local Government Chronicle here.
Is this the worst government statistic ever created?
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, 24 June 2011.
Every now and then, the government will push a report that’s so assinine, and so thin, you have to check it’s not a spoof. The Daily Mail was clear in its coverage: “Council incompetence ‘costs every household £452 a year’“; “Up to £10bn a year is wasted by clueless councils.” And the Express agreed. Where will this money come from? “Up to £10bn a year could be saved … if councils better analysed spending from their £50bn procurement budgets.” Read the rest of this entry »
James Ball sent me the data for the Russian election vote counts this morning and asked me to test whether it deviates from Benford’s law, a test that can give a hint at whether numbers are the product of fraud. Posted below is my analysis, and also a check for last digit preference, which is another method for spotting sneakiness. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s an interesting problem with data analysis in general, and so, by extension, data journalism: you have to be careful about assuming that the numbers you’ve got access to… really do reflect the underlying phenomena you’re trying to investigate.
Today’s Guardian has a story, “Antidepressant use in England soars“. It’s much more overstated in the Independent. They identify that the number of individual prescriptions written for antidepressant drugs has risen, and then assumes this means that more people are depressed. But while that’s a tempting assumption, it’s not a safe one. Read the rest of this entry »