Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo in medicine.
Getting NCCAM’s money’s worth: Some results of NCCAM-funded studies of homeopathy (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/getting-nccams-moneys-worth-some-results-of-nccam-funded-studies-of-homeopathy/ A review of two very misguided studies of homeopathy that were funded by the NCCAM, their questionable results, and the published articles (in obscure journals) that resulted from them. NCCAM director Josephine Briggs has assured us that such studies will no longer be funded, but the author of one of the studies has been awarded a training grant authorizing study of dubious alt-med subjects including homeopathy. Our tax dollars continue to fund woo.
True Informed Consent Is Elusive (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/true-informed-consent-is-elusive/ Recent studies show that patients have false beliefs about the efficacy of cancer chemotherapy and the benefits of screening tests. So do a lot of doctors. If patients are to give truly informed consent, doctors must have accurate science-based information and find ways of effectively communicating their knowledge to patients.
Anecdotes: Cheaper by the Dozen (David Weinberg) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/anecdotes-cheaper-by-the-dozen/ Anecdotal evidence is subject to various sources of error and systematic bias. More is not better. It’s often said, “the plural of anecdote is not data,” but anecdotes really are data; it’s just that they’re unscientific, unreliable data whose only possible use is to generate hypotheses that can then be tested using scientific methods.
Bad Pharma: A Manifesto to Fix the Pharmaceutical Industry (Scott Gavura) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/bad-pharma-a-manifesto-to-fix-the-pharmaceutical-industry/ In his new book, Ben Goldacre shows how pharmaceutical manufacturers and their enablers in the healthcare system have put the industry’s needs ahead of good medicine. He highlights problems in drug development, regulation, clinical trials, and marketing, and sketches out a path for reform. He offers hope for achieving transparency and developing new drugs for patient benefit rather than for profit.
Chiropractic “Research” on Tourette Syndrome: The Trouble with Case Reports (Clay Jones) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/chiropractic-research-on-tourette-syndrome-the-trouble-with-case-reports/ A pediatrician who has mild Tourette syndrome himself describes the condition and shows how its clinical features are ideal for abuse by CAM practitioners. A typical chiropractic case report claims that a year of chiropractic treatment improved Tourette symptoms in a 20-year-old woman. It is not credible and is useless even as a hypothesis generator.