I love research about research

July 24th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, regulating research, spin, subgroup analysis, trial registers | 32 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 24 July 2010

There is a pleasing symmetry in the ropey science you get from different players. When GlaxoSmithKline are confronted with an unflattering meta-analysis summarising the results of all 56 trials on one of their treatments, as we saw last week, their defense is to point at 7 positive trials, exactly as a homeopath would do. Politicians will often find a ray of positive sunshine in a failed policy’s appraisal, and promote that to the sky. Newspapers, similarly, will spin science to fit their political agenda, with surreal consequences (the Telegraph have claimed recently that shopping causes infertility in men, and the Daily Mail reckon housework prevents breast cancer in women).

But does the same thing happen in formal academic research?

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Pharmaco-epidemiology would be fascinating enough even if society didn’t manage it really really badly

July 17th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, bullying, publication bias, regulating research, trial registers | 22 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 17 July 2010

This week the FDA voted not to ban GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug rosiglitazone (brand name Avandia). Their vote has been reported as a victory for the company. I don’t think so: this saga tells an ugly story about our collective medical incompetence.

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12 Monkeys. No… 8. Wait, sorry, I meant 14.

January 23rd, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, methods, trial registers | 77 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 23 January 2010

Like many people, you’re possibly afraid to share your views on animal experiments, because you don’t want anyone digging up your grandmother’s grave, or setting fire to your house, or stuff like that. Animal experiments are necessary, they need to be properly regulated, and we have some of the tightest regulation in the world. Read the rest of this entry »

By me in the BMJ: the dodginess of drug company trials

December 1st, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, hiding data, regulating research, statistics, subgroup analysis, systematic reviews, trial registers | 73 Comments »

Here’s a piece by me in the British Medical Journal this week, published online already, and in the print edition this Friday. It’s a head to head with Vincent Lawton, who until recently was head of Merck in the UK. Briefly, I set out the quantitative evidence demonstrating the scale of the problem, and he says: “oh, we’ve fixed everything now, and anyway some academic trials are dodgy too, here’s one what I found”. That’s a paraphrase, you can read his response for free on the BMJ website here, since they’ve decided that this is an important issue which deserves open access. If you’ve got something really clever to say about these pieces then you might also want to comment in the “Rabid Response” section of the BMJ version of either article.

We were going to have a debate on the Today programme on Monday morning, and then tomorrow morning, but unfortunately it’s been ditched. If you work in mainstream media and would like to cover this issue I’m always keen, and amazingly easy to get hold of, ben@badscience.net. Although I realise that your idea of a meaningful critique of the crimes of big pharma is “chemotherapy hurt my grandma that’s why I love vitamin pills and hate teh vaxxines lol freedom”. Read the rest of this entry »

And now, nerd news

October 3rd, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, hiding data, regulating research, systematic reviews, trial registers, vaccines | 34 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, Saturday 3 October 2009, The Guardian.

There are some very obvious problems that never seem to go away. Right now I can see 1,592 articles on Google News about one poor girl who died unexpectedly after receiving the cervical vaccine, and only 363 explaining that the post mortem found a massive and previously undiagnosed tumour in her chest. Meanwhile the Daily Mail this week continue their oncological ontology project with the magnificent headline: “Daily dose of housework could cut risk of breast cancer”.

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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 »