Antivaccine nonsense Bioethics Clinical trials Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Stuff I didn’t have time to blog about…

I’m not normally one to do link roundups or Instapundit-style one sentence “link and comment” posts. Sure, I do them occasionally, but I think the reason that I don’t is that to me blogging is a way to express my views, not just to point to the views at others (in other words, because I’m just too enamored of my own prose). However, because of a bizarre confluence of my being at the AACR meeting and a bunch of good stuff showing up, there were some items that I just didn’t have the chance to comment on, even though I wanted to. Moreover, because I want to do a couple of posts on the AACR meeting itself (perhaps pounding them out while I’m on a transcontinental flight home a couple of hours from now) and because Your Friday Dose of Woo has to be done in a day, there’s the very real possibility that I may never get around to them. So, in order to make sure that they’re out there and mentioned, here are a few links worth reading.

On antivaccination hysteria:

  1. Autism myth lives on. Sam Wang, an Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at Princeton University and co-author of Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys But Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life, takes on the myth that vaccines cause autism.
  2. Government Aims to Appease Vaccine Critics: Officials Hope to Avoid a Crisis of Confidence in Vaccines, Critical for Public Health. Arthur Allen, author of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver, correctly characterizes a recent public meeting held at the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office as an attempt to appease antivaccinationists. Money quote: The vaccine establishment needs public confidence in order to protect public health. But is its goal to empower opponents of vaccination, or to get them to stop spreading dangerous nonsense over the Internet? It might never bridge the gap between science-based informed opinion and those who demand changes in vaccine policy based on no evidence. A place at the table is fine. But people with knowledge have to be in charge. Amen, brother Art. Amen. Of course, you do realize that now you’ll be accused of being an elitist, don’t you?

Two articles on pharmaceutical company chicanery that I noticed too soon before my flight home to say much:

  1. FDA: Heparin fraud suspected: But no proof drug’s contamination was intentional, chief says. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Given China’s lax regulations reminiscent of the situation in the U.S. at the height of the robber baron era and that China can’t even keep its supplement industry from letting its herbal products be contaminated with led and mercury, why on earth do we allow U.S. pharmaceutical companies to outsource so much of their production to China? The FDA is overburdened and underfunded; it has trouble policing domestic pharmaceutical companies adequately. So how does the government and pharmaceutical companies think they can adequately monitor ingredients made in China? Americans have died because of this debacle.
  2. Key Vioxx Research Was Written by Merck and Documents Allege and Maker of Vioxx Is Accused of Deception. This does not look good. I’m going to have to look up the studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Maybe I’ll blog on them next week, after I’ve had a chance to read them both in detail. (I don’t think I’ll have time to get to it before the weekend; that is, if you want Your Friday Dose of Woo.) One thing that bothers me a little bit about these studies after glancing at them quickly is that some of the authors on both studies appear to have been either consultants or expert witnesses for plaintiffs suing Merck. If we’re going to emphasize conflicts of interest due to pharmaceutical companies, it’s only fair to point out other conflicts of interest as well. I’ll reserve judgment until I can read the actual papers, though.

Homeward bound!

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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