Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of 2013

Complementary and alternative investments

Many people with money to invest are interested in trying schemes that may help their money grow rather than just relying on conventional financial advice.

Investment schemes such as boiler-room investments, Ponzi schemes, online gambling, land banking, and Nigerian 419 schemes are usually referred to as complementary investments.

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Conspiracy theories, transparency, and confirmation bias

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be familiar with the All Trials campaign. They are campaigning for greater transparency in clinical trials, and call for all clinical trials to be published. Although in the case of licensed medicine, regulators get to see all the data from clinical trials, All Trials make the point that it's not satisfactory that doctors simply have to take the regulators' word for it that a drug is effective. They should be able to see the data for themselves. All Trials claim, and I think all right-thinking scientists would agree, that transparency is at the heart of the scientific method.

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The Polypill doctors' conflict of interest

I wrote yesterday about a website marketing an unlicensed medicine to the general public. I've had another thought about it since then, but first I would like to direct you to another excellent blogpost on the Polypill by Anthony Cox, an academic pharmacist who understands more about the legal implications of selling unlicensed medicines than I do. You should go and read it now. I'll wait.

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The Polypill: conventional medicine or quackery?

Simvastatin, hydrochlorothiazide, losartan, and amlodipine. If asked to classify those things as either "conventional medicine" or "quackery", most people would doubtless choose the former.

However, everything depends on context.

A combination of those 4 drugs is currently being marketed as a "Polypill". The idea is that the combination of drugs helps to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, which in turn reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke. Now, the idea of using drugs to reduce blood pressure or cholesterol and hence reduce cardiovascular risk is nothing new, and is undoubtedly a well established part of conventional medicine, with an impressive evidence base to back it up.

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Bad Pharma review

I recently wrote a review of Ben Goldacre's book, Bad Pharma, for the European Medical Writers Association's journal. For the benefit of anyone who isn't an EMWA member and doesn't have access to the journal, here is my Bad Pharma review.

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A challenge to the Society of Homeopaths

Vaccination is much in the news at the moment, given that low vaccination rates a few years ago have now led to a serious measles outbreak in south Wales. This is serious. About 60 children have so far been hospitalised, and if the outbreak continues, then it is quite possible that someone will die.

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What What Doctors Don't Tell You don't tell you

There's an alternative health magazine here in the UK called "What Doctors Don't Tell You" (actually, I think "alternative to health" might be a better description). It peddles all sorts of pseudoscientific nonsense, such as antivaccinationism and similar. When people are selling pseudoscientific nonsense, I think it's always interesting to wonder whether they genuinely believe the stuff they're selling, or whether they know that it's nonsense and are cynically seeing an opportunity to make money.

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Ghostwriting myths

Ghostwriting in the medical literature is something of a favourite topic of mine. There are many articles discussing the problem of ghostwriting, but more often based on opinion and prejudice than on facts and evidence. A great many myths about ghostwriting are endlessly rehearsed in medical journals, and those myths formed the subject of a guest blog post I wrote for PharmaPhorum a few months back.

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Burzynski Q&A

Followers of the Burzynski saga will be aware that the release of the latest Burzynski movie has been delayed. Apparently this movie has an associated Q&A, but for some reason the maker of this movie does not want anyone to see what's in the Q&A until the movie is officially released.

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AVN: Australian Vaccination Network or Anti-Vaccination Network?

Opposition to vaccines is nothing new. In fact, it's as old as vaccination itself. I have always found it puzzling how anyone could oppose vaccines, given that they have made a truly miraculous contribution to public health. The eradication of the killer disease smallpox by vaccination is, in my humble opinion, a serious contender for the greatest ever achievement of medical science. And, of course, many other previously common killer diseases are now extremely rare, thanks to vaccines, as this handy little infographic shows:

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