New Ben Goldacre book on clinical trials and academic misconduct

I’ve been working on getting the blog up and running again, and I have a few posts in the pipeline.  However, this topic is one close to my heart and I wanted to post on it as soon as possible.  I have blogged about the limitations of clinical trials and the need for clinical trial registration before.  Ben Goldacre has published a new book (“Bad Pharma: How Drugs Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients“) on precisely this problem, and gave a recent TED talk that frames the issue brilliantly.  As he says “tell everyone that this is a problem, and that it hasn’t been fixed”:

Image credit: Tom Varco

Licensing and legitimacy in alternative medicine

Interprovincial naturopath wars!

I saw this sign literally yards from my home in Ottawa. So close to the border between Ontario and Quebec, there is a lot of competition for services, competition which is enhanced by the fact that there are two different tax rates in the provinces. In this case, the Ontario naturopath is arguing that the customer (and let’s face it, users of naturopathy are really more customers than patients) would be better off using a provider from a province within which naturopathy is licensed and regulated (i.e. Ontario) rather than a province where the practice is unregulated (i.e. Quebec).  Of course, this really boils down to a debate over whether or not the Emperor’s new clothes were made by a tailor who was part of the Tailors’ Guild…
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The limitations of clinical trials

[I really should have discussed this before having launched into reviews of evidence from clinical trials as it is fundamental to the issue of what constitutes “evidence”. You will notice, if you read back, that I have peppered my previous posts with links to this article where appropriate.]

I have mentioned in a number of previous posts that there is some evidence for efficacy for some fairly outlandish alternative medicine treatments. This evidence comes in the form of significant statistical tests in clinical trials. Now, clinical trials (double-blind, placebo-controlled and properly randomised) are the gold standard for evidence-based medicine but (as with all statistics) you have to know how to interpret them for them to be of any use. There are three places where care needs to be exercised in the interpretation of clinical trials:Read More »