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 »
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 »
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 »
Hi all, I haven’t posted much on badscience.net due to exciting home events, fun dayjob activity, a ton of behind-the-scenes work on trials transparency with alltrials.net, 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 »
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.
RIGHT. Sorry to be absent, I’m back from outer space.
NOW. There’s a new cheap edition of Bad Pharma out this month, with a new and very long extra chapter on everything that’s happened since the first edition came out. There are goodies and baddies galore, I’ll be writing about it all over the next few weeks, but if you’re impatient, there’s lots on the AllTrials website already.
Before that, Bad Pharma is Waterstones Book Club “Book of the Week“. This means it’s discounted, and out on the tables in Waterstones. More importantly, there’s a podcast discussion, and a book club reading guide. These are often great fun, and it’s worth checking out some of the others: they give suggested discussion points, this one has a piece by me on why I wrote the book, and how medical leaders have failed to address the problem of missing trials.
They also asked me to write about how I write, so there’s a splurge at the end about the huge synchronising data monster I’ve built to hoover up and organise knowledge. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.
The reading guide is here:
You can buy the new super cheap edition of Bad Pharma here:
There’s a Waterstones book club podcast on Bad Pharma here:
And as always: remember to sign up to www.alltrials.net, our campaign to stop clinical trial results being withheld from doctors, patients and researchers. We cannot make informed decisions about which treatment is best, as long as this information is being casually withheld. History shows that quiet backroom activity has failed to fix the problem: loud, public scrutiny is the only hope we have, and that means you.
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.
Here’s me and Fiona Godlee (BMJ) giving evidence to Public Accounts Committee on withheld Tamiflu trials
In December last year a group of MPs including Sarah Wollaston, David Davis, Julian Huppert and Adam Afriyie wrote to Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, asking for an inquiry into Tamiflu. Specifically, they asked about the way that vitally important information on clinical trials around Tamiflu have been withheld from doctors and researchers. That signatory list – I’m thinking of Afriyie, Huppert, and Wollaston in particular – is an important reminder that we benefit from having people in parliament with professional experience of medicine and science. Read the rest of this entry »