Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of 2013

Introduction to medical writing course, June 2013

We are pleased to announce the next date for our popular "introduction to medical writing" course, which will be held on 21 June in London.

Book early to avoid disappointment, and to take advantage of the generous "early bird" discount.

More details here.


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Clinical trials and supermarket beef lasagne

I've been thinking about how clinical trials have certain things in common with supermarket beef lasagne.

No, don't worry, we don't usually find horses hiding in inappropriate places in clinical trials. But in both cases, the key to having confidence in the product is traceability. There is a long chain of things that happen between where you start and where you end up, and knowing what happens at each stage of the process is key to verifying the authenticity of the final product.

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Discussing Bad Pharma on Canadian TV

Yesterday I made a brief appearance on the Canadian TV channel BNN, in which I provided a counterpoint to an interview with Ben Goldacre, who was talking about his book Bad Pharma.

As regular readers of this blog will know, this is a subject I have written about more than once before, and will no doubt do so again.

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NHS Choices puts special interest groups ahead of accurate information

This is going to be a very brief post, because this story has been told in full elsewhere. But it's an important story, and I wanted to draw your attention to it.

The NHS Choices website is supposed to give impartial information on health that consumers can trust. There is a real need for such a site: the internet is littered with downright dangerous health information from people pushing various quack remedies. Where is the average person supposed to go to get good quality, unbiased advice?

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The strange story of the Tamiflu data

In a recent post about chapter 1 of Ben Goldacre's “Bad Pharma”, I mentioned that the chapter included a strange story about how the Cochrane investigators tried to get access to data on Roche's anti-influenza medication, Tamiflu, which would require a whole blogpost by itself. When I started to look into the Tamiflu story, I realised I was wrong about that. It's actually going to require 2 blogposts to tell the story. This is the first of those posts. In this post, I shall tell the story of the utterly surreal interactions between the Cochrane investigators and Roche. I shall save the question of what the evidence actually tells us about the efficacy of Tamiflu for another day.

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Richard III and DNA evidence

Today's exciting news is that researchers from the University of Leicester have concluded that the remains of a body found under a car park in Leicester is that of King Richard III.

There are many pieces of evidence that point to this, one of which is that DNA extracted from the skeleton matches the DNA of modern descendants of the king. I am a little puzzled here.

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A zombie statistic is born

We're all familiar with zombie statistics: widely quoted, but hopelessly wrong, statistics that just refuse to die.

I think I've just witnessed the birth of a new one. Thanks to Anna Sharman on Twitter, my attention was recently drawn to a rather implausible statistic on the Guardian website: "The self-employed face average debts of 18.6 times their annual income".

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Sharing raw data from clinical trials

I've recently written a guest blog post for PharmaPhorum, which is all about sharing raw data from clinical trials. You can read it here.

I'd be very interested in any comments on the article, but since PharmaPhorum requires registration to be allowed to comment, if you can't be bothered with going through the registration process, you can leave your comment here.

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Bad Pharma: Chapter 1

I recently wrote about some of my thoughts on Ben Goldacre's new book, Bad Pharma. As I mentioned in that post, I have quite a lot to say about that book, and today I'd like to share my thoughts on chapter 1 of the book.

Chapter 1 of Bad Pharma is entitled “missing data”, and tells us about the problem of incomplete publication of clinical trials. The overall message of this chapter could be summarised as follows: it is not possible for doctors to practice evidence based medicine if the evidence is not available to them, and the evidence is frequently not available.

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Misleading statistics from Sense About Science

I'm normally a huge, huge fan of Sense About Science. They do fantastic work in raising public awareness and understanding of scientific issues. In a world where people are bombarded with pseudoscientific nonsense from politicians, pedlars of quack 'alternative' treatments, and the like, their work is necessary, important, and usually very well executed.

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