Praise from Science Borealis

Thank you to the Science Borealis blog for making Science-Based Pharmacy an Editors’ Pick for 2014!

The blog won in the category of “Health, Medicine and Veterinary Science“. Given the output and quality of other Canadian health professionals and colleagues that blog, I’m surprised and very grateful for the recognition. I’m a strong supporter of Canadian science blogging, and am privileged that they have included SBP in their blog roll. If you want more Canada (and who doesn’t?), adding the Borealis feed to your RSS reader or following them on Facebook is an excellent way to discover more Canadian science.

I find it hard to believe that the SBP blog enters its sixth year in 2015. After over 300 posts and 1.6 million views, there’s still lots of work to be done. SBP will continue to advocate for a pharmacy vision that embraces science, rejects quackery, and puts ethical patient care at the core of the pharmacist’s role. Thanks for reading and your continued support.

Google Reader is Closing: Here’s what you need to know

Actually, it isn't. We'll all be just fine after Google Reader dies.

Actually, it isn’t. We’ll all be just fine after Google Reader dies.

Hundreds of SBP’s readers follow this blog using RSS and Google Reader.  Some link their Google Reader account to sites like Flipboard and Zite.  If this is you, read on:

Google Reader will close down on July 1. If the way you access SBP relies on this application, you need to make some choices to stay updated with its content.

  1. Switch to a new RSS reader. I’m really impressed with Feedly, and think it’s actually better than Google Reader. One click to transfer your feeds to Feedly, if you’re already subscribed via Google Reader.  There are other alternatives to Feedly, too. Here’s another list of alternatives.
  2. Subscribe to SBP by email.
  3. Follow SBP on Facebook. Posts will always be linked on the FB page, and there’s lots of bonus content too.
  4. Follow me on Twitter, where I will always link to posts.

Thank you for your continued support and interest. We are nearing 1 million visits to SBP.


Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma North American Tour

Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre is a British physician, journalist, and author of two books I’ve previously reviewed and recommended: Bad Science and Bad Pharma. Ben will be in Canada and the United States next week promoting the North American release of Bad Pharma. Here are a few of the events that are open to the public:

Portland Oregon, February 17
Seattle Washington, February 18
New York City, February 21
Toronto, Ontario Feb 14 (Pub night!) and February 15

More details here. I hope to see you at the Toronto events. To prepare yourself, here’s a recent interview with Goldacre, and here’s one of Ben’s TED talks, What doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe.

Dispensing in 140 character increments

Some of the people I follow on twitter

It’s nice to be acknowledged for your work, even if it’s just for creating 140 character messages. James Fell who writes for Chatelaine magazine and is also active on Twitter, recently published a list at Chatelaine: The Ten Best Health Experts to Follow on Twitter. And guess who made the list?

8. Scott Gavura Toronto-based pharmacist who advocates for science-based healthcare. A skeptic and critic of pseudo-science.

I’ve been using Twitter for a few years now and find it’s a great tool for learning, educating, and connecting with people that share similar interests. If you like the blog and wish I’d update it more frequently, follow me on Twitter where you’ll see a lot more relevant content that I just don’t have time to blog. I’ve got a fair number of followers and follow about 500 people – a mix of scientists, science writers, journalists, health professionals, and more. I’m not surprised by some of the other “best health experts” on James’ list – I already follow Julia Belluz, André Picard , Yoni Freedhoff and Timothy Caulfield, and you should too.  If you’re not already using Twitter, check it out. What happens on Twitter right now is today’s newscast and tomorrow’s newspaper.

Science-based health advocacy and the end of “Registered Holistic Allergists” in Canada

Photo of the GSR-120

Caution! The GSR-120 is an uproven allergy treatment

As the trend of fake food allergies and fake food intolerances has begun to permeate pharmacy practice, I’ve become much more attuned to allergy pseudoscience. As I have pointed out before, there are scientific ways to diagnose and treat allergies, and then there are the methods used by “alternative” health practitioners, which are neither accurate nor effective. It’s not only naturopaths – there is a wide field of different practices, all claiming the ability to identify and treat allergies. These methods lack scientific substantiation – some prefer to redefine the word allergy:

A Holistic Allergist uses a new definition of allergy: “A bioenergetic counteraction to a given substance resulting in abnormality”.

It’s strategy first documented in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass:

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” Continue reading

Point of Inquiry: Dispensing Skepticism

For those interested, I recently spoke with Karen Stollznow for the Point of Inquiry podcast.  What is Point of Inquiry?

Point of Inquiry is the premier podcast of the Center for Inquiry, drawing on CFI’s relationship with the leading minds of the day including Nobel Prize-winning scientists, public intellectuals, social critics and thinkers, and renowned entertainers. Each episode combines incisive interviews, features and commentary focusing on CFI’s issues: religion, human values and the borderlands of science.

This discussion focused on the role of the pharmacist and the need for science-based pharmacy practice. We touched on a lot of issues including the changing role of the pharmacist, the ethical responsibilities of pharmacists when it comes to products like homeopathy, what compounding pharmacies do, what generic drugs are, what an expiry date means, what pharmacists think about vitamins and other supplements, and more. You can listen to the podcast here.

Skeptics in the Pub – The References

Crowd shot at SiTP, courtesy Dave Bailey/ASR

Thank you to everyone that attended my talk yesterday at Skeptics In the Pub on the topic of Over-The-Counter drugs. I enjoyed the opportunity to speak, and all the discussion it generated.  As promised, here’s a list of references and further readings. Some are written by myself, some by my colleagues at Science-Based Medicine or other blogs. Some are direct link to the source material. Continue reading