Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of 2012

Ben Goldacre's Bad Pharma

Anyone who reads this blog is almost certainly familiar with Bad Pharma, the latest book by Ben Goldacre. I’d like to share some of my thoughts about this book.

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Average age of first-time house buyers

One of my favourite radio programmes is More or Less, presented by the excellent Tim Harford. If you are even remotely interested in statistics, then you should listen to it. It does a splendid job of unpicking some of the dodgy numbers we hear in the news.

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Cochrane review on industry sponsorship

Many papers have been published that compare clinical trial publications sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry with those not sponsored by industry. Last week, the Cochrane Collaboration published a systematic review by Lundh et al of those papers. The stated objectives of the review were to investigate whether industry sponsored studies have more favourable outcomes and differ in risk of bias, compared with studies having other sources of sponsorship.

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Derren Brown's Apocalypse

As regular readers of this blog will know, I take a keen interest in ethics: matters of informed consent, autonomy, privacy, and so on. My interest in such things was greatly piqued recently by a TV programme: Derren Brown's Apocalypse, which showed in 2 parts on Channel 4. If you missed it, you can watch part one here and part 2 here.

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Can ethics committees help tackle publication bias?

In my last blogpost, which was inspired by Ben Goldacre's latest book, Bad Pharma, I explained why I thought Goldacre was wrong about interim analyses. This blogpost is also inspired by the same book, but in the interests of balance, I'm going to talk about another area where I think Goldacre was absolutely right (this may not be my last post based on the book: watch this space).

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Interim analyses

I'm currently reading Ben Goldacre's latest book, Bad Pharma. If you want to know what I think of it, you'll be able to read my review of it in EMWA's journal, Medical Writing, in due course, after I've finished reading it. But today, I want to share a few thoughts on interim analyses of clinical trials, prompted by one section of the book (pages 184-186, if you have the book and want to look up the section).

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Two new vacancies

We currently have two vacancies to work within our data management and statistics operations.

Statistical programmer (fixed term contract)

We have a vacancy for a statistical programmer for a fixed term contract of 4 months (with the possibility of extension). You should be fluent at programming with Stata, and knowledge of clinical research and CDISC standards would be an advantage.

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A bad day for whistleblowing

Whistleblowing is an important part of ensuring safety in medicine (and indeed many other areas), although sadly one which is often not handled well. In theory, reporting unsafe behaviour in a colleague can help to ensure unsafe behaviour is nipped in the bud. In practice, however, the person who blows the whistle often ends up doing very badly out of it.

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Places still available for medical writing training

We still have a few places left for our 1-day course "Introduction to Medical Writing" on 19 October. Places are limited, however, so if you want to be sure of a place on the course, then please book your place soon. More details here.

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The Green Party and homeopathy

One criticism that has often been levelled at the Green Party is that they are anti-science. It's my understanding that they are aware of that criticism and are keen to embrace a more scientific mindset, so I was very interested to listen to James O'Malley's interview with the new Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, on today's Pod Delusion.

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