Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of 2012

Cancer quackery at the snooker update

I wrote yesterday about my disappointment that former world snooker champion Peter Ebdon was advertising Gerson Therapy at the current world snooker championships. Since then, there have been developments.

I saw a lot of activity on Twitter when Ebdon's choice of sponsor first emerged, most of it critical. Some of this was directed at the BBC, who televise the event, and some at World Snooker, who organise it. It appears that this criticism had an effect, because World Snooker acted quickly to make Ebdon remove his logo. I applaud World Snooker for this swift and sensible decision. This seems to be a fantastic example of grassroots skeptical activism at work.

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Cancer quackery infests snooker

I don't have a great deal of interest in watching sport, on the whole. The only sport that I would ever willingly watch is snooker. So it is with great dismay that I have discovered that the former world champion, Peter Ebdon, is being sponsored by Gerson Therapy in the world snooker championship that's currently being played in Sheffield.

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Externalities in vaccination

As you may or may not know, I'm studying economics with the Open University in my spare time. It's a fascinating subject, and I'm enjoying it very much. The latest thing I've been reading about as part of the course is why free market mechanisms generally fail in healthcare, and one of the reasons is an interesting little economic feature of vaccinations that's never occurred to me before. So in case it hadn't occurred to you either, I thought I'd share it with you.

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The harm of homeopathy

I wrote about a year ago about how some homeopaths, rather than living up to the nice friendly all-natural image they like to present, are actually hugely irresponsible and act in bad faith.

I've seen a shocking example of the behaviour of a homeopath today. But first, some background.

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Why hasn't Burzynski published his trials?

I've written before about the Burzynski Clinic. Just to refresh your memory, it's a clinic based in Texas that claims to have a remarkably effective treatment for cancer, antineoplastons. The marketing of the clinic is based on the idea that Burzynski is a maverick lone researcher who has discovered the cure for cancer, but the medical establishment don't want you to know about it because it would threaten their business model. I'm never entirely clear whether the medical establishment are acting on their own or in collaboration with our Lizard Overlords, but you get the idea.

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The importance of attending the ethics committee meeting

As regular readers of this blog will know, I sit on an NHS research ethics committee. It's a fascinating experience.

I'd like to share with you something that happened at the meeting I attended yesterday evening. One of the applications had some rather odd things about it. It was really not clear to us why the applicants had designed the study in the way they had, rather than in a way that would be far more usual and ethical for the sort of study they were doing. There might have been good reasons for it, but without understanding what those reasons were, we did not feel that we could approve the project. There was no attempt to justify the odd design in the application, or even any acknowledgement that the design was odd.

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Clinical data manager vacancy

Dianthus Medical currently has an immediate vacancy for a Clinical Data Manager to join our friendly team.

Job Description:

The selected candidate will be required to assist the senior clinical data manager in all required data management activities. The role will involve managing clinical trial data by designing, building, and validating clinical trial databases in accordance with standard operating procedures and to clean data in preparation for statistical analysis.

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Lack of transparency at the BMJ

I like the British Medical Journal. I really do. They publish some really great papers. They are also very much among the leaders in terms of publication ethics. They are one of the few journals who have espoused the contributorship model, which makes things much clearer than the traditional authorship model used by many journals. They were also writing about and acting on competing interests and the importance of declaring them as long ago as the 1990s. They have been a shining beacon of transparency and a force for higher standards in biomedical publishing.

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Why the NHS reforms are like dangerous pseudoscience

This is supposed to be a blog about medical stuff, not about politics, so I hope you'll forgive me writing about the Health and Social Care Bill that's currently going through the UK Parliament on two posts in a row. The bill, if passed, will have a huge impact on the way medicine is practiced here in the UK.

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NHS reforms and Andrew Lansley's conflict of interest

The Health and Social Care Bill, which, if passed, will introduce widespread changes to the way the NHS is run, has been much in the news lately. It's probably fair to say that it's controversial. Doctors don't want it. Nurses don't want it. Given that doctors and nurses between them know quite a bit about how the NHS works, that really ought to be enough to give politicians pause for thought.

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