UK Government does what I tell them – and – how would you write the legislation?

March 6th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in regulating research | 19 Comments »

Just a brief post on how gratifying it is to see the government obediently doing exactly what I told them to and announcing plans to ensure that all drug company trial data is registered and disclosed. The MHRA press release is below so that you can bathe in unmediated news. Read the rest of this entry »

All bow before the might of the placebo effect, it is the coolest strangest thing in medicine

March 1st, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in homeopathy, placebo, regulating research | 31 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday March 1 2008

It was fun to hear universal jubilation over the new meta-analysis showing once again that some antidepressants aren’t much cop in mild or moderate depression: most of all on the Today programme, where a newsreader said the industry was contesting the study on the basis that it was not in line “with patient experience”. I’ve always said that homeopaths mimic big pharma in their marketing spiel, but this is the first time I’ve seen it done the other way around, so bravo to pill peddlers of all shades. Read the rest of this entry »

A quick fix would stop drug firms bending the truth

February 26th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, hiding data, regulating research, systematic reviews | 44 Comments »

It’s not just about Prozac. Our failure to properly regulate testing in the pharmaceutical industry has devastating costs

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Wednesday February 27 2008

Yesterday the journal PLoS Medicine published a study which combined the results of 47 trials on some antidepressant drugs, including Prozac, and found only minimal benefits over placebo, except for the most depressed patients. It has been misreported as a definitive nail in the coffin: this is not true. It was a restricted analysis [see below] but, more importantly, on the question of antidepressants, it added very little. We already knew that SSRIs give only a modest benefit in mild and moderate depression and, indeed, for some time now, the NICE guidelines themselves have actively advised against using them in milder cases since Read the rest of this entry »

Where’s your ethics committee now, science boy? – updated with letter

February 23rd, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, regulating research | 38 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday February 23 2008

People have done some terrible things, over the years, with science, and with their science skills. I’m talking about Zyklon B, electrocuting gay people straight, torturing people in concentration camps, leaving syphillis untreated in large numbers of black men for an experiment (without telling them, in the US, until the 1970s), and more. Stuff where it’s hard to find any humour. Read the rest of this entry »

Washing the numbers, selling the model

January 26th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, big pharma, medicalisation, neurostuff, regulating research | 57 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday January 26 2008

If there’s one thing I love, it’s academics who take on the work of investigative journalism, because they are dogged. This has been a bad week for the SSRI antidepressants. Read the rest of this entry »

Screen test

January 12th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in regulating research, statistics | 38 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday January 12 2008

So we’re all going to get screened for our health problems, by some geezers who’ve bought a CT scanner and put an advert in the paper maybe, or perhaps off Gordon Brown: because screening saves lives, and it’s always good to do something rather than nothing. I think you’ll find – and I fancy having this on a t-shirt – that it’s a tiny bit more complicated than that. Read the rest of this entry »

The data belongs to the patients who gave it to you.

January 5th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, regulating research, statistics, systematic reviews, trial registers | 19 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday January 5 2008

It is rare that a bad pharma story is left untouched by the British media, but this one unfolded while everyone was drunk in December, and perhaps it was just too geeky. Luckily, you share my taste for details. Ezetimibe is a best-selling cholesterol drug with sales of more than £2bn last year. It can modify cholesterol levels but no one knows whether it cuts the incidence of real outcomes such as heart attacks, or, you know, death. Is that the bad thing? Read the rest of this entry »

More than molecules – how pill pushers and the media medicalise social problems [mp3 lecture]

January 2nd, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, medicalisation, podcast, regulating research | 22 Comments »

View in iTunes

I’ve got a whole bunch of mp3’s to post from last year, which I’ll start doing in dribs and drabs. Here’s a talk I gave in Brighton, or rather, here is a recording of my invited “President’s Lecture” at the British Pharmacology Society’s annual conference, which I suspect is a bit of an honour.

The title was “More than molecules – how pill pushers and the media medicalise social problems”, and it’s a romp through tricks and traps which big pharma, quacks, and the media all share. More than that it’s about how attractive we all find it, as a society, to dodge important social, political and personal problems by reducing them to mechanical and sciencey-sounding explanations involving serotonin or fish oils. Read the rest of this entry »

Archive piece – Medical research threatened by patient consent

June 6th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, regulating research | 7 Comments »

I was reminded of this article during a conversation with Julian Peto here last night: it’s a golden gasser from yesteryear, a piece I wrote for the Guardian in 2001. It originally appeared with the wrong surname, so you’ll just have to trust that it really was me what wrote it.

At the bottom, I’ve pasted an article on a similar subject by Peto that he sent me this morning. If it’s a subject that interests you then it’s worth following the link to the BMJ page (assuming you can access) and following up the related stories and also the Rabid Responses, as they are, er, known on the street. Read the rest of this entry »

Blame the drug companies… and yourself…

April 14th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, references, regulating research | 19 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday April 14, 2007
The Guardian

[oh, I love the subs, but there was a slightly bonkers headline in the paper today on this column, as sometimes happens… this is why I don’t mock people for what’s written by someone else in their headlines…]

So here’s an interesting question. Lots of us wander around quite happily with a “dolphins good, drug companies bad” morality in our heads; and this is entirely reasonable, they are quite bad. But how easy is it to show that drug companies kludge their results, and to explain what they’ve done to a lay audience?

On an individual level, it is sometimes quite hard to show that one trial has been deliberately rigged to give the right answer Read the rest of this entry »