Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of Medical ethics

Strategic MedComms Forum 2011 part 1: marketing and data sharing

Last week, I spent a fascinating day at the Strategic MedComms Forum 2011. This event, subtitled “Trust and Transparency - Myth and Reality” and expertly organised by Peter Llewellyn of Network Pharma brought together a range of people working in medical communications for the pharma industry, as well as others with an interest in the field, to discuss the issues of trust and transparency in the way that the pharma industry communicates with the wider world.

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Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

I have waited a long time to write this blog. Since early in 2010, to be precise. In January 2010, a paper was published in a peer-reviewed journal that made some outrageous, untrue, and defamatory remarks about Dianthus Medical.

I have not blogged about it before, because such things are better dealt with in private. This is particularly true if legal action is pending, although in the end, despite the fact that the journal refused to correct the untrue statements published about us, I decided that the cost of mounting a libel action against the journal would be prohibitive. As one great legal mind once put it, “Justice is open to everyone, in the same way as the Ritz Hotel is”.

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Rearranging the deckchairs in the NHS

Today, we find out what changes are likely to be made to the Health and Social Care Bill that is currently making its way through Parliament.

Much of the Bill as currently written, particularly the proposal to give GPs greater commissioning powers, including powers to commission from the private sector, has been controversial. It is therefore not surprising that a certain amount of negotiation is going to happen before the Bill becomes law.

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Destruction of smallpox vaccine

This week, the World Health Organisation will be making a decision about whether to destroy remaining stocks of smallpox vaccine.

As I'm sure you know, smallpox was eradicated more than 3 decades ago, thanks to the success of a global vaccination campaign. Given that smallpox used to kill so many people, its eradication is in my opinion perhaps the greatest achievement of medical science ever. Even those who don't rate it quite that highly would probably put it in their top 10.

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World Homeopathy Awareness Week 2011

This week has been designated as “World Homeopathy Awareness Week” (WHAW). This is a rather odd title, as we shall see later, but the gist of it is that it is a PR exercise by the homeopathy community, designed to increase sales of their treatments.

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Bias in papers about bias

I have just read a paper describing how Evil Big Pharma manipulates the medical literature so that they can make more money from selling their drugs, no matter what the science says. That paper made me grumpy.


Well, if you are going to write a scientific paper criticising someone for introducing bias into the scientific literature, would it be too much to ask that you should do it in an unbiased way? What makes me grumpy is when people write papers about how evil and biased the pharmaceutical industry is (and this is certainly not the first such paper), but then themselves distort the facts to make a point.

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Water fluoridation

There are many controversies in science, but most of them have a "right answer". Why should something which has a "right answer" be controversial? Well, it may be because people are simply ignorant of the facts or motivated by competing interests, or it may be that even though there is a right answer out there somewhere, we don't actually know what it is.

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The imperial war on drugs

I often write about drugs, and am doing so again today, but today's post is not about licensed pharmaceutical products designed to treat disease; it's about drugs of abuse: heroin, cocaine, and the like.

Bob Ainsworth, a Labour MP and a former cabinet minister, has publicly declared his support for legalising all drugs. It's certainly a radical solution. He imagines a future in which drug users can obtain heroin, cocaine, or whatever perfectly legally, either on prescription from their GP or perhaps bought from the local pharmacy (for such a radical policy, clearly there are a lot of details that would need to be worked out).

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The R word

Earlier this week, we learned that NICE is going to lose its powers to decide whether drugs should be funded on the NHS. This is one of the most spectacular triumphs of political fuckwittery over common sense that I've seen for a long time.

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Sterilisation of drug addicts

A story in today's news describes a drug addict who has been paid £200 to have a vasectomy, by an organisation that believes that drug addicts should not breed.

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