Friday, January 11, 2013

Hi everyone, I'm really awed at the overwhelmingly positive response I received from my last blog post. Never in my wildest dreams did I figure that 7 posts into this thing I'd actually kinda maybe impact the discussion around an issue I wrote about. Hopefully many of you who visited recently will check back in occasionally. I do this in my spare time, so I can't be hugely prolific, but I'll try to keep it interesting and engaging.

As someone who works in evidence-based medicine, Ben Goldacre's Bad Pharma has been on my mind a lot recently. I couldn't possibly give you a sense of the many issues in the book with the eloquence and expertise that he does, so I encourage you to take a look and see if it interests you. The U.S. version is due on February 5.

Briefly, he covers the many reasons, across all the various stakeholders in medicine, why the entire system is seriously flawed. That's hardly an overstatement. Trials go missing, data are manipulated, regulators don't mount up, etc. and it paints a pretty horrifying picture of doctors making treatment decisions on biased and incomplete evidence, thus putting patients in unnecessary and entirely preventable harm. In this day and age of open-access journals and cheap and easy access to information, there really is no excuse for this state of affairs. I can't imagine where one moderately well-read blog post gives me any right to think I have any influence now, but I didn't want to just read this book and do absolutely nothing.

One step in the right direction is, an initiative to register all trials worldwide along with information on the methods used and results. Take a look at the site, get a sense of why it exists if you don't already, and hopefully you'll sign the petition. We deserve real evidence-based medicine, and I don't think this is your average petition. There's some good names behind it, and a charismatic and likable advocate who I really believe has a chance to get somewhere with this.

I'll get back to blogging about my usual topics soon. In the meantime, I'll always be open to suggestions. A couple of weeks ago I tried to set it up so my latest tweets would show up somewhere on my blog, but it didn't work with this design. Sort of a missed opportunity to suddenly have tens of thousands of page views without my username anywhere. Find me at @scottfirestone, and send me a link or say hi if you like.

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