Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of 2010

The imperial war on drugs

I often write about drugs, and am doing so again today, but today's post is not about licensed pharmaceutical products designed to treat disease; it's about drugs of abuse: heroin, cocaine, and the like.

Bob Ainsworth, a Labour MP and a former cabinet minister, has publicly declared his support for legalising all drugs. It's certainly a radical solution. He imagines a future in which drug users can obtain heroin, cocaine, or whatever perfectly legally, either on prescription from their GP or perhaps bought from the local pharmacy (for such a radical policy, clearly there are a lot of details that would need to be worked out).

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Should we all take a daily dose of aspirin?

The lead item on the news on Radio 4 when I woke up this morning was a paper that has just been published in the Lancet on the effects of daily aspirin use on cancer deaths. This was presented as a major new piece of research that might mean we should all be taking aspirin every day.

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It's life Jim, but not as we know it...

NASA's astrobiology unit held a press conference yesterday, in which they made the eagerly-awaited announcement about their latest piece of research.

Now, given that an announcement from NASA's astrobiology unit was eagerly awaited, it's not surprising that there had been a lot of speculation that they'd discovered aliens. No serious commentators were expecting little green men, of course, but there was some quite serious speculation that they might have discovered some microbes, perhaps from an asteroid, of non-terrestrial origin.

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Why you should not believe a word in adverts

Last month, I blogged about the highly misleading advert for Dettol, which claims "Dettol protects: fact", and my response from the Advertising Standards Authority to my complaint about the advert. It appeared that the ASA had misunderstood my complaint, and thought I was doubting Dettol's ability to kill bacteria on kitchen surfaces (which I don't). Rather, I was complaining that the advert was claiming that using Dettol can protect against infection, which is not at all the same thing as killing bacteria. I emailed the ASA to explain why their original response missed the point and asked them to take another look at it.

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Evil Big Pharma

Last week, I featured on a podcast called The Pod Delusion, where I discussed the evidence on whether Evil Big Pharma really are as evil as they are made out to be. Many of the accusations of evildoing on the part of Big Pharma are based on anecdote, but what does research evidence show? Listen here to find out. My piece starts about 33 minutes into the podcast.

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European Statistical Forum

I shall be speaking at the European Statistical Forum in Verona later this week, about the role of medical writers in reporting clinical trials.

It's a topic close to my heart, about which I have spoken many times before, but usually to audiences of medical writers. It will be nice to speak to a different audience and make the statistical community more aware of some of the issues of publication ethics.

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EMWA conference in Nice, day 1

I'm typing this from my hotel room at the EMWA conference in Nice, as the first full day of the conference draws to a close.

The journey here yesterday afternoon did not go smoothly, but at least I got here in the end, and I resisted the temptation to send any tweets about blowing up Heathrow Airport to vent my frustration with the delays. I was just in time for the opening lectures, the first given by Helen Baldwin, former EMWA president and British expat living near Nice, about life as a medical writer in the south of France. It sounds lovely. The second was given by EMWA's resident language guru, Alistair Reeves, about why sensible people write daft things. It was thoroughly entertaining, as well as surprisingly educational. A good start to the conference. Rounded the evening off with a trip to the old town for dinner with some friends, always a pleasure to catch up.

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The R word

Earlier this week, we learned that NICE is going to lose its powers to decide whether drugs should be funded on the NHS. This is one of the most spectacular triumphs of political fuckwittery over common sense that I've seen for a long time.

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Last week's big news story

There was an absolutely huge story in the news last week. Can you guess which one I mean?

It wasn't the Chilean miners. That was a big story, of course, and utterly heartwarming to see it have such a happy ending, but the story I'm thinking of is of much greater significance. And it certainly wasn't Margaret Thatcher's 85th birthday, although you may have missed that. In a beautiful little piece of irony, it was knocked off the news by the story of a country looking after its miners.

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Sterilisation of drug addicts

A story in today's news describes a drug addict who has been paid £200 to have a vasectomy, by an organisation that believes that drug addicts should not breed.

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