Weekend Reading

Keep the heat on Health Canada: www.bannosodes.org

Keep the heat on Health Canada: http://www.stopnosodes.org

Here’s what’s keeping this pharmacist engaged and sometimes outraged:

Health Canada explicitly puts the financial interests of homeopathy manufacturers above broader public health goals. From the BC Medical Journal, Health Canada licenses homeopathic vaccines:

Remarkably, at the same time as Health Canada focuses on influenza education, flu shots, and other proven prevention measures, that same body has licensed 10 products with a homeopathic preparation called “influenzinum.”[8] According to providers, in­fluenzinum is for “preventing the flu and its related symptoms.”[9] Homeopathic vaccines are available for other infectious diseases as well. Health Canada licenses homeopathic preparations purported to prevent polio,[10] measles,[11] and pertussis.[12] Health Canada continues to assure Canadians that it tests products for safety and efficacy before allowing them to enter the market. All approved homeopathic products are given a DIN-HM number. The website states, “A NPN or DIN-HM means that the product has been authorized for sale in Canada and is safe and effective when used according the instructions on the label.”[13]

Pharmacist John Greiss compares Health Canada and the FDA and their action on opiates. The results are striking and reiterate the question above: Is Health Canada putting public health objectives above manufacturers?

Say it again and again. Natural does not equal safe. Beware the naturalistic fallacy.

Correlation vs. Causation. Erik Davis poders if he really cured his own gout.

Six Ways to Separate Lies From Statistics.

Eat fish, not supplements. Another study examines fish oil and finds it useless for any of the studied cardiovascular endpoints. On the positive side of dietary interventions, a study that examines monounsaturated-rich Mediterranean diets for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease has been published and the results are promising.

Many people believe in “full moon effects” on hospital rooms and other events. It’s a fallacy.

Antibiotics could cure 40% of chronic back pain patients! Or so the headlines claim. Here’s an excellent critical appraisal from NHS Choices. And it seems there is a conflict-of-interest issue that few identified.

That CMAJ study purported to show naturopathic treatments are effective? This is what a meaningless study looks like. (Will try to do my own review of this at some point). Also see Colby Vorland’s take on the study.

Interesting debate between Arnold Relman and Andrew Weil from way back in 1999 on the idea of “integrative” medicine. (I wonder if this was the earliest reference to “science-based medicine”.) It should be no surprise that any appearance of the word “integrative” is a huge red flag for quackery. It’s almost always pseudoscience. Orac discussed “integrative oncology” quackery this week at Respectful Insolence.

Stem cells are an area of science where the hype vastly exceeds the science. This post from Orac looks at the impact of deregulating stem cell treatments in Italy.

10 ‘reasoned’ responses to “10 reasons we don’t need #GMOs”. Also on GMOs: When Media Uncritically Cover Pseudoscience.

Colby Cosh on the “Liberation Treatment” for multiple sclerosis: The only thing liberated was their wallets.

Supermarkets cash in on unfounded fears about food and health. Products that are marketed as being free from GM, aspartame, MSG and parabens perpetuate myths and ignore evidence.

I enjoyed and recommended neurologist Robert Burton’s On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Wrong. Here’s a review of his latest book, A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves.

Alternative medicine providers like chiropractors, naturopaths and acupuncturists are trying to position themselves as primary care providers who are equivalent to family doctors. Jann Bellamy at Science-Based Medicine shows why that’s a real problem.

One area where alternative medicine purveyors target their business is in pediatrics. This post at Science-Based Medicine on Alternative Medicine and the Vulnerable Child is excellent. It made me recall this older but also excellent related post by Dianne Sousa over at Skeptic North.

One of the most naive pieces on drug pricing I’ve ever read – from Harvard Business Review. As was noted on Twitter, ” that article reads like: ‘What’s the answer to $100k drug? A $200k drug.’”

Don’t fear the meter. There’s no evidence that smart meters are harmful.

Vaccines

The anti-vaccination fraud: Health officials forced to get tough as once-dormant diseases returning:

Fifteen years ago, in an act of scientific fraud that has since gone down as one of the biggest lies in modern medical history, a onetime University of Toronto researcher named Andrew Wakefield published a study claiming a link between autism and the vaccines that prevent measles, mumps and rubella. The findings have been debunked, the study has been retracted, and Mr. Wakefield has been stripped of his medical licence and accused of collecting more than half a million dollars from lawyers drawing up litigation based on his bogus claims. Regardless, Mr. Wakefield’s unholy creation, the idea that vaccines are a threat to public health, lives on in a worldwide scourge of plummeting vaccination rates — and a troubling resurgence of once-dormant diseases.

Outbreaks of measles are putting Europe’s commitment to eliminate the disease by 2015 under threat, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

The biggest worry about antivaccinationism is in the developing world, where there are concerns that unfounded fears will spread from the developed world.

Anti-vaccine sentiment has been around almost as long as vaccines themselves. Opponents of vaccines often claim a range of different reasons or justifications for their opposition, but for the majority of people who are swayed by these minority voices – enough to choose not to vaccinate their children – it usually comes down to nothing more than fear. Ironically when vaccination rates fall, they end up facing a real but very different kind of fear. Indeed as parents in Wales take their place in line at catch-up clinics to have their children and teenagers vaccinated – the so-called “missing generation” – they are in the unenviable position of seeing first-hand what it is like for parents in developing countries.  The difference is, those in Wales had a choice.

Looking for an example of scientific ignorance and logical fallacies common among hard-core antivaccinationists? Take a look at some of the comments Science-Based Pharmacy received this week.

Listen

Great Radiolab episode on preemies: 23 Weeks 6 Days.

Hear James Randi’s scathing critique of “psychic” Sylvia Browne in an interview on CBC Radio.

Unrelated distractions worth checking out

The 29 most Canadian things to ever Canada in Canada. I though everyone bought maple syrup in 4L containers.

66 behind-the-scenes pictures from The Empire Strikes Back.

The astonishingly repulsive origins of the phrase “grandfather clause” via Dan Gardner.

Barns Are Painted Red Because of the Physics of Dying Stars.

The Two Spocks in a Very Funny and Smart Commercial

People caught on Russian dash cams doing really nice things.

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One thought on “Weekend Reading

  1. Predictably, Homeo-shill Nancy Malik is now saying “Health canada lays a strong emphasis on orthomolecular medicine” Also “Homeopathic flu vaccine licensed for use in Canada. Effective, says health regulator”. See her comments on http://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/homeopathy-homeopathic-remedy-pharmacists-advice-investigation/ If she’s saying that once you can be sure she’s saying it on dozens of other comment threads all over the internets; it’s what she does… Do you see the problem yet, Health Canada?

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