Lose weight by eating less salt! - Go on! - Try it! - You will feel so much better!
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Monday, January 03, 2011

Slippery Statistics: there's something fishy about them!

I've been listening to Radio 4's More or Less programme first broadcast on Dec 31st 2010. If you go to this BBC webpage you too can listen to it using iPlayer. "Tim Harford and the More or Less team explore 2010 in numbers. Contributors include Ben Goldcare, Robert Peston, the National Statistician and the Swedish statistical guru Hans Rosling." - That should be Goldacre, btw, not Goldcare. It's a rare BBC typo...(o:

Anyway the programme includes Gordon Brown, when Prime Minister, being less than honest with statistics while speaking in the House of Commons. You will also hear of the wealth of misleading immigration figures that the British public was fed for years. And Robert Peston explains again about the crisis with the banks and their cash reserves. But the most important item in the programme in my opinion is the complaint by medical doctor and columnist, Ben Goldacre, that 74% of results of drug trials on Reboxetine, a so-called antidepressant drug manufactured by Pfizer, were not published in academic journals and were kept from doctors and patients. - Since the drug is "ineffective and worse than useless", but the actual published data claimed the opposite, Dr Goldacre describes this as "the greatest scandal of modern medicine."

You may, along with me, and along with Dr Goldacre, wonder why drug companies are allowed knowingly to mislead with fraudulent claims about their pharmaceutical junk, and why the medical journals are similarly allowed to skew the evidence by withholding trial results that show the drugs do more harm than good, and why nobody goes to prison for this fraud and for the harm that ensues to patients because of this fraud and for robbing the NHS purse and the British tax-payers by charging them for toxic trash. - The answer, as I'm sure you have worked out for yourself, is that Big Pharma's tainted profits make their way into the pockets of the venal.

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, follow the money: venal politicians, slick lawyers, publishers, share-dealers, drug reps, shady doctors, shady members of drug regulation panels, etc. Which of them join in the dance of of the dodgy drugs, and rake in their shares of the ill-gotten gains?