Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of Publications

The zombie statistic that just won't die

I have written more than once before about how the commonly heard statistic "50% of all clinical trials are not published" is nonsense. It is a zombie statistic: no matter how many times you try to kill it, it just keeps on coming. And now it turns out its supporters are becoming increasingly dishonest in their attempts to defend it.

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Clinical trial disclosure: myths and realities

I woke up this morning to news on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that a report by the Public Accounts Committee of the UK Parliament had found that only half of clinical trials are disclosed.

That's a statistic we've heard before. And as I've explained more than once before, it's not true. Nonetheless, zombie statistics are very hard to kill.

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More zombie statistics

There is an oft-quoted figure that 50% of all clinical trials are never published. It's surprisingly popular for a figure that has no evidence, as I've written about before. And since I wrote that post, another study has been published showing disclosure rates of 89%.

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More evidence of Burzynski's dishonesty

I've been following the story of Stanislaw Burzynski, fake cancer doctor and proven fraudster, for a couple of years now. Regular readers of this blog may recall that I've written about him on more than one occasion before. However, I've just spotted something new about the dodgy way in which he disseminates his research findings. I'm surprised I hadn't spotted this one before, but in case you haven't either, then I'm going to share it with you.

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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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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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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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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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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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