Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of Clinical research

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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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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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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New collaboration for real world evidence

Real World Evidence (RWE) is an emerging powerful trend that has the potential to redefine the basis of value-based pricing, competition and access in the near future. In response to the growing demand, we have joined forces with Dendrite Clinical Systems to offer an innovative service to pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

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Lucentis, Avastin, and the role of licensing

Two drugs for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease that can lead to important loss of vision, have recently been much in the news. The drugs are Lucentis (generic name ranibizumab), which is expensive and is licensed for the treatment of AMD, and Avastin (generic name bevacizumab), which is much cheaper, but not licensed for the treatment of AMD.

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The Burzynski Clinic

I have seen a number of very sad stories over the last few months that all have something in common. The most recent was printed in the Observer last Sunday. It is an utterly heart-rending story of a little girl who is dying of brain cancer. It is hard to imagine anything more terrible for any parents to have to face.

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Malaria vaccine

One of the most exciting papers I have seen for a long time was published in the New England Journal of Medicine yesterday. This describes a randomised controlled trial of a malaria vaccine in African children.

This is important. Malaria is a terrible disease, which kills almost a million people a year, most of them children, and almost all of them in developing countries. And over 200 million a year suffer non-fatal, but still thoroughly miserable malaria infection. Although various treatments for malaria exist, they are not always available to everyone who needs them in resource-poor countries, and drug-resistant strains of malaria represent a huge challenge for treatment. While mosquito control measures can have highly beneficial effects, they have not been anywhere near sufficient to provide adequate control of the disease in practice.

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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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Zinc and the common cold

Today's big health news story is a new Cochrane review that looked at zinc as a treatment for the common cold. The conclusion of the review is that taking zinc supplements within 24 hours of the onset of a cold can reduce the duration and severity of symptoms.

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