Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of 2011

Strategic MedComms Forum 2011 part 1: marketing and data sharing

Last week, I spent a fascinating day at the Strategic MedComms Forum 2011. This event, subtitled “Trust and Transparency - Myth and Reality” and expertly organised by Peter Llewellyn of Network Pharma brought together a range of people working in medical communications for the pharma industry, as well as others with an interest in the field, to discuss the issues of trust and transparency in the way that the pharma industry communicates with the wider world.

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Exciting development in antiviral research

I recently heard, via the BBC's excellent Science in Action programme, about an exciting new development in the fight against viral diseases.

The research, published in PLoS One, describes a radical new approach to antiviral treatment.  It relies on the fact that most viruses produce long sequences of double-stranded RNA, which is rare in mammalian cells: our cells generally only produce short sequences of double-stranded RNA. In an ingenious technique, the researchers have found a way of killing cells with long sequences of double-stranded RNA.

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Student tuition fees

Forgive me for writing 2 non-medical posts in a row, but this morning's Today programme on Radio 4 contained such an egregious schoolboy error in statistics that I just couldn't resist.

They were discussing student tuition fees, and some new estimates that students starting university next year will graduate with about £50,000 worth of debts. UK readers will doubtless be familiar with the background to this, but for those of you from further afield, this results from a decision to increase student tuition fees from their current £3000 per year to £9000 per year, in what represents one of the most dramatic broken promises from some members of the government for quite a while. And as we're talking broken promises from politicians here, that's saying something. Astute readers will notice that that still amounts to only £27,000 for a 3-year degree course, but the figure also includes the amount students need to borrow for their cost of living.

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London riots

London is under attack. Last night’s scenes of violence and destruction are worse than anything I remember in my lifetime. What I think was most scary was that the police were simply overwhelmed, and did not have the resources to deal with the rampant criminality.

I got to see some of this first hand. I happened to be in Colliers Wood yesterday evening. One shop had been set on fire, and other shops had had windows smashed and were being looted. The police were present, but were not able to intervene in the looting. I saw police in riot gear guarding a petrol station. They had presumably taken the (no doubt very wise) decision that preventing a petrol station being set on fire was the most important use of their limited resources.

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Should pharmaceutical companies publish all their data?

I'm currently involved in a survey, designed to find out more about attitudes to pharmaceutical companies publishing all of their clinical data.

The objective of this short survey is to gain feedback as to how much trial data pharmaceutical companies should make public. The types of questions asked within the survey include, "Should pharma make all their data public, and if so, how where should they publish their data", and "What are the limitations on publishing all data?". The survey is aimed at professionals involved in the development, publishing or planning of medical publications.

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Medical writing training, October 2011

We are pleased to announce that our 1-day introduction to medical writing training course will next run on 7 October 2011. Places are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment.

Details here.

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Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

I have waited a long time to write this blog. Since early in 2010, to be precise. In January 2010, a paper was published in a peer-reviewed journal that made some outrageous, untrue, and defamatory remarks about Dianthus Medical.

I have not blogged about it before, because such things are better dealt with in private. This is particularly true if legal action is pending, although in the end, despite the fact that the journal refused to correct the untrue statements published about us, I decided that the cost of mounting a libel action against the journal would be prohibitive. As one great legal mind once put it, “Justice is open to everyone, in the same way as the Ritz Hotel is”.

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Rearranging the deckchairs in the NHS

Today, we find out what changes are likely to be made to the Health and Social Care Bill that is currently making its way through Parliament.

Much of the Bill as currently written, particularly the proposal to give GPs greater commissioning powers, including powers to commission from the private sector, has been controversial. It is therefore not surprising that a certain amount of negotiation is going to happen before the Bill becomes law.

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Destruction of smallpox vaccine

This week, the World Health Organisation will be making a decision about whether to destroy remaining stocks of smallpox vaccine.

As I'm sure you know, smallpox was eradicated more than 3 decades ago, thanks to the success of a global vaccination campaign. Given that smallpox used to kill so many people, its eradication is in my opinion perhaps the greatest achievement of medical science ever. Even those who don't rate it quite that highly would probably put it in their top 10.

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EMWA conference 2011

The EMWA conference in Berlin is nearly upon us, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to it. I've rather foolishly agreed to teach 3 workshops this time round (mainly about statistics), so I shall be working hard, but I'm sure it will be fun nonetheless. Always great to catch up with fellow medical writers from around Europe over a beer or two! Do come and say hello if you're going to be there.

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