Father Munchausen, I Presume!

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I’ve had some criticism of the recent Doctor Munchausen posts. They’re not fair on doctors. Many people have told me of lives saved by good doctors. It’s not fair to tar these good doctors with the brush of a few Dr Munchausens here and there. So there’s bad doctoring and good doctoring and great doctoring. What would great doctoring mean?

The Church of GSKology, Part 2

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A century ago Freud and Jung made us aware of the biases underpinning what patients say. Not everything should be accepted at face value. In particular claims of abuse may not be based on reality. We needed experts – analysts – they claimed, to tease out what is real from what is not. The Catholic Church was once intensely hostile to Freud, but when it came to child abuse adopting a Freudian approach was very convenient. But while Freud essentially denied that real abuse was taking place and got away with it in his life-time, the Catholic Church has learnt to its cost that many claims of abuse are real.

Elimination of Bias, Not Disclosure of Bias, Must be the Standard

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Disclosure is an insufficient strategy for mitigating bias because bias does not result from the concealment of financial ties but from their effects. Even worse, social psychologists have demonstrated that when individuals disclose a competing interest, they give even more biased advice.

Sense about Science: Follow the Patient

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The simple act of defining doctors or patients concerned about adverse events as “critics” is a rhetorical stroke that marginalizes concerns – makes you a one-percenter rather than one of the ninety-nine percent. The pharmaceutical market is the least free market on earth.

What Are You Doing WHO?

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The World Health Organisation was established in 1945 to provide leadership on global health matters. According to its Director General Dr Margaret Chan, it...

Doctor Munchausen and Sense about Science

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In June this year the BMJ published an article supposedly about how the Black Box Warning that antidepressants cause suicide had led to a drop in the use of the same antidepressants and an increase in suicides. The message was widely trumpeted in daily newspapers and other news outlets as well as the press office of Harvard University and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In fact there had been no drop in the use of antidepressants and no increase in suicide rates or suicide act rates. The letters sent to the BMJ in response to the article wondering how such a shoddy piece of work could possibly have been published are worth reading – rarely is academic contempt so scathing.

Clipping Care, Not Profit

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Right now in Britain there is a controversy shaping up between the commercial and financial interests of big managed-care corporations and the need to care for vulnerable people in the community, people with conditions like dementia and long-term psychoses. Conflicts of interest are nothing new in the contested field of mental health, but this one threatens not only quality of care, but the well-being of low paid workers, mainly women, who are employed as support workers.

One Script to Rule Them All

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The marketing departments of pharmaceutical companies focus in on the ring-bearers just as the Eye of Sauron focused in on Gollum and later Frodo. Once the Eye fixes on a ring-bearer, it hypnotizes him into submission. If any demur, it directs its Black Riders (Medical Academics) to enforce compliance with its Will.

Persecution: Dangerous Liaisons

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From 1951, a system designed for heroin and cocaine addicts – prescription-only status – was applied to all new drugs. Why? These were after all the first truly effective drugs in medicine. But the ability to do good came with a likelihood of doing harm. There was a trade-off to be made between risks and benefits. The new complex trade-offs could not be put on to the label of a drug or even captured in a forty page package insert. They needed to be individual to each person.

The Empire of Humbug: Not So Bad Pharma

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At the 50th American Psychosomatic Society meeting in New York, Michael Shepherd was speaking. His topic - The Placebo. When the lecture finished, Lou Lasagna said "this paper is now open for questions." Nothing happened. Nobody said anything at all. Lasagna couldn't refrain from commenting: "There are 3 possible explanations. First, you were all asleep and therefore you heard nothing. Secondly, it was so bad that since this speaker has come 3,000 miles you didn't want to embarrass him. Third, it is genuinely so original and new that you don't quite know what to make of it. I'll leave you to decide which it was". What had Shepherd said?

Odysseus Come Home

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Odysseus was in his 70s. Coming up to the 50th anniversary of a very happy marriage. He had formerly been a respected professional, a...

American Woman

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On Thursday, May 31, 2001, a woman whose name is known only to GlaxoSmithKline emailed the company:   "My name is... I was diagnosed with panic...

Study 329 in Japan

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By 2002 GlaxoSmithKline had done 3 studies in children who were depressed and described all three to FDA as negative.  As an old post on Bob Fiddaman’s blog reproduced here outlines, several years later they undertook another study in children in Japan. (Editor's note: This is a re-print, by David Healy, of a post by Bob Fiddaman)