Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of Medical ethics

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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Burzynski Clinic in the Observer: PCC response

You may remember that last month I blogged about a hideously irresponsible article in the Observer. To refresh your memory, I said I'd reported them to the Press Complaints Commission and that I'd let you know of any developments.

Well, I now have a development to report. The PCC have considered my complaint, and have ruled that the Observer article, while it was indeed misleading, did not breach the code, because it was somebody's opinion rather than a factual article.

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Legal remedies for ghostwriting

Everyone agrees that ghostwriting in the medical literature is a bad thing. The question is what can be done to eradicate it.

Professional medical writers' organisations such as EMWA, AMWA, and ISMPP have done their bit by publishing guidelines and position statements and educating their members about ethical publication practices, and there is some evidence that those efforts are pushing things in the right direction, but it's clear that they are not going to solve the problem by themselves and that more needs to be done.

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The JBI saga continues

Regular readers of this blog will recall my writing about a deeply unpleasant episode in which the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry wrote some unfounded allegations about unethical behaviour by Dianthus Medical, which, after extensive correspondence, they refused to correct. I first wrote about it here, and linked briefly here to a much more detailed account written by my friend Karen Shashok and published on the EMWA website.

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The Burzynski Clinic part 2

A few years ago, a man called Bernie Madoff was running an investment company. You've probably heard of him. He was offering wonderful rates of return on investments, far in excess of what any other investment companies were offering. Of course, the rates of return he was offering couldn't really be delivered. The whole thing was a scam. Eventually, the FBI came and arrested him and put a stop to his little schemes.

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Making NHS health records available to private companies

There has been a flurry of activity in the media in recent hours about a proposed plan to make anonymised NHS health records available to private companies.

I am completely and utterly baffled by this. It is being presented as if it is something new. It isn't. The General Practice Research Database (GPRD) already contains vast amounts of anonymised data from NHS patients, and can be made available to private companies who are prepared to pay the appropriate fee. This has been going on for many years. Indeed, I have analysed data from the GPRD on behalf of pharmaceutical companies myself on more than one occasion.

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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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Journal of Bioethical Inquiry and editorial accountability

I wrote back in June about my unpleasant experience of finding some false and defamatory allegations about Dianthus Medical printed in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, and how I was unable to persuade the journal to publish a correction, even though the authors of the article subsequently admitted that they had no evidence to support their allegations.

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The medical ethics of an 80 mph speed limit

Can you put a price on a human life?

The instinctive answer of many people to that question is "no", but most health economists would say that not only can you put a price on a human life, you absolutely need to do so. Certainly when running a health service, the only rational way to decide whether interventions make economic sense is to do exactly that.

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