Tamiflu, Bad Pharma, and the UK Public Accounts Committee

The conclusion that millions of people have been exposed to a treatment, at enormous cost to the public purse, despite the fact that independent researchers have been unable to verify it as being effective or safe, should trouble us all.

Dr David Tovey writes about the lack of transparency in clinical trials, with specific reference to Tamiflu, and the ongoing public campaign after the publication of Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Pharma.


I believe: How it works

British pharmacists are allowed as a matter of conscience by their regulatory body to pretend they believe that contraception is an “abortifacient”.

A pharmacist who claims to believe that emergency contraception (or even regular daily contraception) is an “abortifacient” is either lying in order to justify imposing their religious views on other people, or is allowing their religious beliefs to overrule their scientific training.

Meanwhile, in America, Hobby Lobby thinks it should be exempt from covering medical care “they believe” causes abortion.

So Hobby Lobby’s legal claim is that a company has a “religious liberty” right to avoid anything they say causes abortion even if it does nothing of the sort.

If Hobby Lobby were to be granted such an exemption, then, what would prevent any other corporation from claiming that it believes minimum wage laws, OSHA regulations, nuclear safety rules and fire codes are also “abortifacient”?

What Hobby Lobby is seeking isn’t merely some legal permission to be exempt from providing health insurance. The corporation is seeking the “religious liberty” to redefine reality and to rewrite the laws of medicine, human anatomy, biology and chemistry.

The medical care they’re talking about is, again, emergency contraception, which (keep up) does not cause abortion. It doesn’t even cause abortion in the very narrow sense of preventing implantation, which most medical experts would not call abortion anyway:

There were studies done that show that overly huge amounts of estrogen can cause failure to implant in mice, so that warning was stuck on Plan B while they studied it in human vagina owners. But no proof has been found that it happens in human women.

Of course, this is actually all about sex:

If Hobby Lobby said that they believed cancer was caused by sinful behavior, and therefore they weren’t covering chemotherapy, they would be shamed so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them.

Except when it’s all about politics:

I note in passing that Hobby Lobby is neither passionately sincere or sincerely passionate.  They offered this coverage without any qualms until they found out that President Obama wanted to make them do it.


Quick analysis of an advertising scam

“We asked over 3000 doctors to review 5-hr energy and what they said is amazing. Over 73% who reviewed 5-hr energy said they would recommend a low-calorie energy supplement to their healthy patients who use energy supplements.”

Wow, that’s a lot of caveats. The doctors would recommend “a low-calorie energy supplement”, not this supplement specifically; they would recommend a supplement to their healthy patients; specifically, they would recommend a supplement to their healthy patients who use supplements.

And there’s another little trick there too.  How many doctors said this? I have no idea. Three thousand doctors were asked. Over 73% who reviewed 5-hr energy gave the above responses. My guess would be that the vast majority of the doctors asked refused to answer the question at all.

My guess would also be that those doctors who did answer it were goaded into giving a fairly non-committal shrug of an answer. Bryan Allain explains how this would work. Simple, and devious.


Did a Stroke Turn a Man Gay?

So, perhaps sexuality can be changed after all, if you have a stroke. A somewhat drastic method, I think.

I’ve found the story told in most detail in The Mirror. A Welsh rugby player, engaged to be married, had a stroke resulting from a nasty accident when attempting a somersault. The story goes that, after he recovered from the stroke, he was gay. He also lost interest in sport and his banking job, retrained as a hairdresser, and now lives above his salon with his boyfriend.

Instinct magazine gives two explanations of what happened.

Stroke sufferers often exhibit peculiar changes following the traumatic event, changes that could include taking on new accents, new personalities. But 26-year old Birch’s might take the cake.

Birch’s own neurologist explains the circumstances as the stroke “opening up” a part of his patient’s brain to which he was previously unaware; while Joe Korner, director of communications for the U.K.’s Stroke Association, says, “Strokes are traumatic, life-changing experiences, which can make you reassess life and your feelings so perhaps that’s the reason behind it,” Korner said. “Whether or not the stroke turned Chris gay, or whether he was gay anyway but unaware of it, his experience seems to be a positive one, which is great.”

So either the stroke opened up a gay potential which had previously been hidden away, or Chris had always been gay but had suppressed it. Either way, it seems the outcome was good, and he’s happy in his new life. Fascinating story, though.