News

Remdesivir against coronavirus, hope or hype?

Published on June 1, 2020

On 22 May 2020, preliminary data from a placebo-controlled randomised trial of remdesivir in 1063 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 with lower respiratory tract involvement was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). There was a lot of enthusiasm and governments in many countries immediately declared that they would make remdesivir available. I shall discuss here what the trial report showed and didn’t show or didn’t tell the readers about, and how it was inappropriately hyped by two co-authors on the trial report, Jens Lundgren and Thomas Benfield, professors of infectious diseases in Denmark who have constantly been in the TV news offering their guidance to the Danish population during the coronavirus epidemic. Read the article

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The review on antidepressant withdrawal that Cochrane won’t publish

Published on February 12, 2020

Peter Gøtzsche and Anders Sørensen on trying to get a review of methods for safe antidepressant withdrawal published in Cochrane: “They sent us on a mission that was impossible to accomplish” to “protect the psychiatric guild.”

About half of the patients on depression pills, or over 50 million people worldwide, will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to come off them, and in half of these, the symptoms are severe. This dependency is a major reason why many people continue taking the pills for decades or even lifelong. A review of methods for safe withdrawal of depression pills would therefore be hugely important. We describe here what happened when we tried to get a protocol for a Cochrane review approved. The process took two years and we did not succeed. It seems to us that the Cochrane group sent us on a mission that was impossible to accomplish, raising their demands along the way to absurd levels with many irrelevant requirements in a face-saving operation aimed at protecting the psychiatric guild and its false beliefs. Read our article about the scandal here.

The mantra of evidence-based medicine stifles important psychiatric research

Published on January 5, 2020

“We live in the era of evidenced-based practice. If an approach is not funded, then it will never acquire the kind of data that would allow it to be considered evidence-based. This creates a closed loop: only research that is hypothesized to be of value is funded; understudied approaches that might be of value are ignored because they are not considered evidenced-based.” The 4,500-word long interview in Psychiatric Times with psychiatrists Sandra Steingard and Scott Waterman is well worth reading. It provides a thoughtful analysis of important obstacles for meaningful psychiatric  research and practice. Read the article here: https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/qas/integrating-academic-inquiry-and-reformist-activism-psychiatry

Defamation and editorial misconduct in a Wiley journal

Published on December 15, 2019

It is a serious offence to fabricate and publish defamatory lies about a colleague in a medical journal and even worse when the journal and the publisher cover this up. I discuss here my futile attempts to get the truth out and to rebut a mendacious essay published by Oxford professor Trisha Greenhalgh and three colleagues in a Wiley owned journal, Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

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More drug deaths: Merck and PTC Therapeutics want clinical study reports to be secret

Published on November 22, 2019

Yet again, two US drug companies are trying to reintroduce secrecy. Merck and PTC Therapeutics have appealed an initial ruling that clinical study reports should not be considered confidential. On 11 September, Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, Gerard Hogan, found that disclosure of the documents would harm the companies’ commercial interests. The cases are now awaiting a final judgment from the European Court of Justice. It would be a serious setback for public health if the two US companies prevailed in court. The lack of access to the raw – unfiltered, uncoded and unselected – harms data in clinical trials is a major cause of the horrible situation we are in, documented by several independent studies with different methodologies, that our prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. Merck has previously demonstrated a callous disregard for human lives.

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Book review: Death of a whistleblower and Cochrane’s moral collapse

Published on November 6, 2019

… it was because Professor Gøtzsche was prepared to call out the lowering of scientific standards in Cochrane that the hierarchy felt compelled to plot his demise …  one of the worst show trials ever … in a manner that mirrors how the drug industry operates … the death of Cochrane rather than the whistleblower.

Read whole book review

Science and censorship — my story

Published on October 30, 2019

By Maryanne Demasi, Ph.D. August 19, 2019.

Science is facing a crisis of democracy. Now more than ever, vitriolic attacks are being leveled at people who debate opposing scientific views. Asking questions that challenge the establishment may be unsettling, but silencing debate and proclaiming that the “science is settled” is not the solution.

Belgian physician Jan Vandenbroucke once wrote, “Without the possibility of open debate, science simply ceases to exist.” As an investigative science journalist, I’ve had first-hand experience with censorship. …

Meeting in Erice, Sicily, 7-9 October 2019 about reducing drug harms

Published on October 25, 2019

Sponsored by the Uppsala Monitoring Centre and co-arranged by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine in Oxford, 34 invited people participated in a three-day workshop, “Improving the detection, analysis and reporting of harms in medicines: exploring, enhancing and empowering.”

It has been shown in several independent studies that prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer (see the references under “About”). In many cases, the patients did not need the drugs that killed them. At the same time, it is also a fact that undertreatment occurs. The participants at the workshop therefore agreed to call for substantial changes in the way we research, regulate and use drugs.

A formal Erice Statement is in preparation; there will be additional meetings in future; and some of the participants will take various initiatives to change the status quo.

Tom Jefferson and Peter Gøtzsche from the Institute for Scientific Freedom and Carl Heneghan, Juan Ramon Laporte and Kim Witczak from its Advisory Board participated in the meeting.

 

BMJ News: Expelled Cochrane director to set up new institute for “integrity in science”

Published on January 11, 2019

Peter Gøtzsche, who was expelled from the Cochrane Collaboration last year, plans to found a new Institute for Scientific Freedom. The new organisation, whose goal is “to preverve honesty and integrity in science”, will be launched on 9 March at an international symposium in Copenhagen.

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