This is intended to be a sort of a patchwork layman’s guide as to why less medical research might be a good idea. I’ll be interested to see whether I manage to stay focussed for long enough to manage a post that vaguely fits that description. I’ve been alerted via the Holford Watch and Bad Science blogs to many interesting books, academic papers and websites and a couple of those prompted this post. Read the rest of this entry »
Everyone who has been slated by John Scudamore on Whale.to. The pharma gang and shill pages are my favourites. Frankly, I’m a bit gutted that I don’t get a mention – I’ll have to be more vocal in my criticism of JABS and Whale in future. Richard Doll is a shill (as are Ernst and Goldacre) so I don’t think it would be appropriate for someone of my limited talents to be listed on that page, but how about a mention on the ‘pharma gang’ page John? Honestly – it would be like a badge of honour for me. The really interesting thing is that one name on the pharma gang page is John Stone. Is it a mistake or are there ideological differences (and perhaps even ‘trust issues’) in the JABS camp? Just in case it is a mistake and John Scudamore realises his error, I’ve JKN’d the page here.
Just a very brief post today on ‘brain pills’. I found this in my daily email from the BBC today. The report states that:
Schools and universities may soon need to test students sitting exams for brain improving drugs, experts say.
So, in the near future society will be policing children’s use of substances that are thought to improve brain function. We will administer urine drug tests for cognitive enhancers and regulation may have to be introduced to stop these treatments and future ones from giving people an unfair advantage in examinations and tests. What a contrast with the Durham fish oil ‘trial’. I’m not trying to make the argument that cognitive enhancers should be allowed. Rather, I am trying to comprehend the distinction between (1) schools and their county council actively pushing fish oil pills on kids and (2) the ‘need’ for regulation due to a possibility that children may use a brain-enhancement drug for exam success. Is there some kind of moral difference between fish oil pills and ritalin or aricept - or is it a matter of health and safety? Is it cheating to take ritalin… but not cheating to take fish oil pills? Are fish oil pills assumed to be completely safe and pharmaceutical drugs assumed to be inherently unsafe? Was there even a risk assessment made by Durham County Council before they pushed these pills?
A WordPress blog called Inside Vaccines has published a ‘critique‘ of the Pichichero1 study called ‘Vaccine Science???’. Before I comment on this blog post, it’s worth pointing out a couple of things. Firstly, here’s what the people behind Inside Vaccines say about their blog:
Inside Vaccines is a group of citizens (scientists, authors, engineers, librarians, researchers, parents and grandparents) who believe that making an effective risk v. benefit assessment regarding routine immunizations is crucial. Our articles discuss vaccinations, studies and research compilations. We cite sources such as the CDC and JAMA. Our hope is that we are able to provide you with clear, concise data which will spur your own research and analysis. Read on!
I read one of their posts and left a comment expressing my disappointment with the lack of discussion about studies and research compilations, the lack of clear, concise data in the post and the fact that the entire post was a sensationalised account of a meeting between concerned parents and an angry doctor. I didn’t consider that fiction of this kind was really appropriate for a blog with clearly stated aims to provide data and discuss studies and told them so. In their responses to my comment, one point made was that I had not criticised any of their other posts and they asked if it should be assumed that I “took no issue with” the others, they asked “are you merely disappointed that we have strayed from our impeccable style with this one skit?” and referred to their blog as containing “many well-researched, well-referenced articles”.
The article on the Pichichero study has been reproduced – it was first published on this site: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/ group/VaccineScience/message/430. The author of this piece writes that the authors excluded samples for vague reasons and complains of ‘apple picking’. The study states that of the samples taken, they only included those with mercury in range – “only measurements within the range of reliable quantitation were used in these calculations”. That seems to me to be a single explanation for the exclusion. The authors even state the assay used for measuring mercury levels and the limits of reliable quantitation for this assay.
There was a second point made by the author of this ‘critique’ of Pichichero. Apparently, “the very low mercury levels in the blood and stool don’t add up to the amounts of mercury injected”. I’ve read the study and I can’t see any figures for absolute amounts of mercury – except for the total amount provided by injection. The levels in blood and urine were measured in nmol/L and the levels in stool samples were measured in ng/g dry weight. I’d be interested to know how the writer of this post calculated the total amount of mercury from the figures in the paper.
My comments on the Vaccine Play were reproduced on the JABS forum2 and the poster stated that they were currently working on MMR – The Musical, with the part of Iago played by a Pharma Rep. This isn’t a blog that discusses vaccinations, studies and research compilations, provides you with clear, concise data which will spur your own research and analysis or believes that making an effective risk v. benefit assessment regarding routine immunizations is crucial. It is propaganda.
1. Mercury concentrations and metabolism in infants receiving vaccines containing thiomersal: a descriptive study. The Lancet, Volume 360, Issue 9347, Pages 1737-1741. M. Pichichero, E. Cernichiari, J. Lopreiato, J. Treanor. Link to abstract: Pubmed.
2. The JABS forum have featured on a few sites. Here are some: JABS blog; Black Triangle; an open letter to JABS; JABS and public health; JABS; more from JQH on JABS; JABS forum; JABS and Whale.
Another brief post. Today, I’ll be mostly looking at homeopathic paranoia. Read the rest of this entry »
Thanks to the magic of del.icio.us, I learnt from David Colquhoun’s blog that Marc-André Gagnon and Joel Lexchin have (through The Public Library of Science) published a paper1 on the ‘Pharmaceutical Promotion Expenditures in the United States’. The page is here and the PDF is here. Read the rest of this entry »