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Healthy Skepticism Updates

Update 2009-08-12

Healthy Skepticism Update July - August 2009

Recently posted in Healthy Skepticism International News ...

July 2009 Vol 27 No 7
Advanced Cell Therapeutics
"Maybe this was the miracle I had dreamed about for years ..." Jan Perkins' story of macular degeneration and experiences at the hands of Advanced Cell Therapeutics.

August 2009 Vol 27 No 8
Review of Questionable Behaviour by Robert Spillane
Spillane's new book, Questionable behaviour: psychology's undermining of personal responsibility, critiques some well-known schools of thought in psychology. Sami Timimi critiques the critiques.

Healthy Skepticism members have been involved with many other interesting articles published elsewhere recently. Here is a selection of titles with links to the citations in the Healthy Skepticism library:
Unpicking claims in the media about suicide and depression
Elsevier should divest itself of either its medical publishing or pharmaceutical services division
Quality of Pharmaceutical Advertisements in Medical Journals: A Systematic Review
Call for global health-systems impact assessments.
Preserving objectivity in medical education
Is the Diovantage® Patient Support Program Direct-To-Consumer Advertising?

Recent Australian activities

Anti-psychotic marketing – Dr Peter Parry and A/Prof Glen Spielmans have prepared a series of presentations summarizing revelations from subpoenaed company documents about the marketing of antipsychotics. An abbreviated version was presented at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Congress in Adelaide in May. All the presentations are available here: http://www.healthyskepticism.org/documents/Antipsychotics.php

SBS Insight – Healthy Skepticism Chair, Dr Jon Jureidini, participated in a televised discussion about doctor/industry interactions on May 26th. Other participants included representatives from Medicines Australia, Choice, the Royal Australian College of Physicians, Pfizer, and several universities, as well as medical students, general practitioners and patients. The transcript can be accessed at: http://news.sbs.com.au/insight/episode/index/id/67#transcript

The invisible infection of bias – In an article published on ABC Unleashed, Healthy Skepticism director, Dr Peter Mansfield, has laid out the metaphor he has been using in his talks, which has helped doctors accept the possibility that promotion might influence prescribing negatively. He likens the transmission of bias in promotional information, which is often undetected by doctors, with the transmission of invisible bacteria by doctors before the germ theory of disease was accepted. In both cases doctors have been offended by suggestions that their behaviour could be detrimental to their patients until the causative agent was recognized. Full article here: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2579404.htm

Pharma Phacts –Medical students from 19 Australian universities have set up this new branch of Healthy Skepticism aiming to increase awareness among their fellow students about the pharmaceutical industry and its interactions with the medical profession. Officially launched in July, Pharma Phacts has a Facebook presence at:
http://www.facebook.com/search/?q=pharma+phacts&init=quick#/group.php?gid=88801217099
and a web-site at:
http://healthyskepticism.org/pharmaphacts
Members will host panel discussions at several universities soon.

New web-site

The Healthy Skepticism web-site is being redeveloped at: www.healthyskepticism.org. Please note that the new site's URL has a 'c' where the current site has a 'k'. When the up-grade is complete, both spellings will point to the new site. Our library has been moved to the new site already. The library home page is now:
www.healthyskepticism.org/global/library
Items are now being added only to the new library. Many other functions of the new site are not yet operational. Please be patient during the transition.

Healthy Skepticism International Conference

There will be international Healthy Skepticism conference in The Netherlands in 2010, probably on 7 and 8 October. Next month you will be invited to participate in a survey to inform planning for this exciting event.

 

Updates homepage

 

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Next Update: Update 2009-09-20

Previous Update: Update 2009-05-06

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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963