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Doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe

Doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe

  • September 28, 2012
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  • by Ben Goldacre

When a new drug gets tested, the results of the trials should be published for the rest of the medical world — except much of the time, negative or inconclusive findings go unreported, leaving doctors and researchers in the dark. In this impassioned talk, Ben Goldacre explains why these unreported instances of negative data are especially misleading and dangerous.

Ben Goldacre writes “Bad Science” — unpicking dodgy scientific claims made by scaremongering journalists, dubious government reports, evil pharmaceutical corporations, PR companies and quack.

“It was the MMR story that finally made me crack,” begins the Bad Science manifesto, referring to the sensationalized — and now-refuted — link between vaccines and autism. With that sentence Ben Goldacre fired the starting shot of a crusade waged from the pages of The Guardian from 2003 to 2011, on an addicitve Twitter feed, and in bestselling books, including Bad Science and his latest, Bad Pharma, which puts the $600 billion global pharmaceutical industry under the microscope. What he reveals is a fascinating, terrifying mess.

Goldacre was trained in medicine at Oxford and London, and works as an academic in epidemiology. Helped along by this inexhaustible supply of material, he also travels the speaking circuit, promoting skepticism and nerdish curiosity with fire, wit, fast delivery and a lovable kind of exasperation. (He might even convince you that real science, sober reporting and reason are going to win in the end.)
As he writes, “If you’re a journalist who misrepresents science for the sake of a headline, a politician more interested in spin than evidence, or an advertiser who loves pictures of molecules in little white coats, then beware: your days are numbered.”

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