Article Archive for December 2006

Learned societies vs CAM and MHRA
Posted in on 21 December 2006
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Statements that condemn CAM and the approval of untrue labels by the MHRA have been issued by Royal Society, the Medical Research Council, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal College of Pathologists, the Biosciences Federation (which represents 40 affiliated societies), the Physiological Society and the British Pharmacological Society. The Physiological Society’s December newsletter has an article by Austin Elliott “Homeopathic mumbo-jumbo”.

Peter Fisher versus Ben Goldacre
Posted in on 18 December 2006
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A debate was held at the Natural History Museum on “Does Homeopathy Work?”. You can see it on streaming video. Peter Fisher gave a talk which, after shameless cherry-picking of the evidence, went on to explain that if a memory stick can hold a lot of information, so can water (I’m not kidding).

I am wrong
By admin
Posted in syndicated on 13 December 2006
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I am wrong. Brilliantly, repeatedly and gloriously wrong. Today I wrote this. Today, less than 24 hours later, I will contradict myself. Because, sometimes ‘traditional’ knowledge does tell us something new.

I rather enjoy browsing DissectMedicine, Nature’s equivalent to Digg. It’s a nice idea however, it is sometimes taken over by spammers, those that want to pursue their own flakey agenda. So, when I see a story about a herbal extract that can treat obesity, submitted by a user with the name of the extract, linking to a page that sells the extract, I assume it’s bunk.

However, I am uptight enough to dig a little deeper. First off, pubmed. Which returns absolutely nothing. Not a good start but it’s always worth digging a little deeper. So, off to google. The first hit (that isn’t an advert) is a BBC news story. The story is entirely uncritical and mentions that the rights have been licensed to a British pharmaceutical company that specialises in natural products, Phytopharm.

On their site is a Q&A sheet about their developement of Hoodia extract, which mentions a clinical trial. So, if a clinical trial has been performed, it may be on the register. But it isn’t. If it isn’t on the register, then it’s not likely to be published because a lot of medical journals now insist that trials are registered before hand as a pre-requisite for publication. So, no chance of getting the results that way.

So, am I wrong? I want to believe that there’s something in it. I tend to trust authority (a minor failing of mine probably), so I tend to believe Phytopharm when they say positive results were achieved. But I can’t be sure without seeing the numbers. So, if anyone from Phytopharm is reading this, do drop me a line, I’d love to know more. Also, if you are reading this, do you want to give me a job? I’m looking for a new job at the moment, and it’s a quick and easy way to shut me up!

As an aside, I’m trying out a footer that should allow this post to be submitted to DissectMedicine, let’s see how it works.

AIDS: a wicked goat serum scam
Posted in on 2 December 2006
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The BBC2 Newsnight programme, in an excellent bit of investigative journalism, has shown that an ex-arms dealer, Michael Hart Jones has conned the Swaziland government with his claims to cure AIDS with a useless and probably dangerous treatment for AIDS based on goat serum.