Bad Science: Four Things I Learned From Dr. Ben Goldacre

“You cannot reason people out of positions they didn’t reason themselves into.” — Ben Goldacre, MD Dr. Ben Goldacre is the author of the popular Guardian column, Bad Science. He has recently published a book by the same name. Bad Science received a very favorable review from the British Medical Journal and although I was tempted to write my own review for...

/ November 13, 2008

The Debate About Off-Label Prescriptions

So-called off-label uses of prescription drugs is an enduring controversy – probably because it involves a trade-off of competing value judgments.The FDA is considering loosening its monitoring of off-label prescriptions, but critics are charging that, if anything, regulations should be tightened. Many issues of science-based medicine are at the core of this controversy. In the US the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)...

/ November 12, 2008

Statins Are Better on JUPITER

Over 26 million Americans are taking statin drugs. Some people think they should be available over-the-counter without a prescription, and it has even been facetiously suggested that they should be added to our drinking water. The protective effect of statins in cardiovascular disease and in high-risk patients with high cholesterol levels is well established. But what about people with no heart disease...

/ November 11, 2008

Does alternative medicine have alternative ethics?

Kimball Atwood has an interesting series of posts on the ethics of alternative medicine which I strongly encourage you to read.  He does a great job examining the ethical implications of certain alternative medicine practices, and has a terrific dialog with Peter Moran, a frequent commenter here.   At my other online locale, I make frequent forays into the morass of medical...

/ November 10, 2008

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., vaccines, the EPA, and the interface with science-based medicine and public policy

This blog is entitled Private-investigator-detective for a reason, and that’s because we here at SBM believe that the best method to result in the most efficacious treatments for the most people is through the application of science to the evaluation of the biology, pathophysiology, and treatment of disease and disorders. I may (or may not) be departing a bit from the...

/ November 10, 2008

“It’s just a theory”

I am afraid that the experiments you quote, M. Pasteur, will turn against you. The world into which you wish to take us is really too fantastic. La Presse, 1860 It’s just a theory. Not evolution. Germ theory. Just a theory, one of many that account for the etiology of diseases. I should mention my bias up front. I am, as some...

/ November 7, 2008

Breast cancer and migraines–what is risk, anyway?

One of the questions most often asked in the medical literature is “what is the risk of x?”  It’s a pretty important question.  I’d like to be able to tell my patient with high blood pressure what their risk of heart attack is, both with and without treatment.  And risk is a sexy topic—the press loves it.  Whether it’s cell phones and...

/ November 6, 2008

Wyeth vs. Levine: Should Drug Label Standards Be Determined By Juries?

It is with some degree of trepidation that I enter the fray on the Wyeth vs. Levine case. I’ve been watching the media frenzy about the lawsuit with interest – mostly because (for the first time in a while) I think that the pharmaceutical company is in the right on this one – and that most journalists (and even medical journal editors)...

/ November 6, 2008

Rainman – Link Between Precipitation and Autism

A new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows a positive correlation between counties in California, Oregon, and Washington with greater precipitation and a higher incidence of autism. While the results of this study are interesting, it needs to be put into proper context. Also of note, the authors had presented early results from this data previously. Correlation...

/ November 5, 2008

Why we don’t prescribe bark for cancer

My valued colleague, Dr. Antonio Baines, recently invited me to speak for his graduate course in Toxicology.  Dr. Baines’ course is one of the most highly-regarded graduate classes at North Carolina Central University for M.S. students in Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences.  Antonio asked that I discuss the pharmacology and toxicology of herbal and non-botanical dietary supplements but pretty much gave me free...

/ November 4, 2008