Dr Ben Goldacre’s AllTrials Or AllLies? Hiding Info On Killer Medical Drugs For Pharma Profit & Misleading 80,000 Supporters About the AllTrials Campaign

This is about trying to keep children and adults safe from killer drugs in the UK, USA and worldwide.

Dr Ben Goldacre’s AllTrials campaign is looking more and more like a front to ensure Pharma can keep on killing people for money with dangerous drugs and cover up the scientific data which shows it.  On one side is Dr Ben Goldacre screaming like a shrill shill “its lies, all lies” and little else, [like facts to back his denials up].  All Dr Goldacre needs to do is avoid answering the criticisms to convince people “its true, all true“.

On the other side is drug safety expert Professor David Healy setting out facts on his latest blog with his take on them in a series on Goldacre’s “AllTrials” campaign which he likened previously to a Trojan Horse: Sense about Science: Follow the Lawsuit June 16, 2014.  

The impression Dr Goldacre gives is that he is little more than the drug industry’s front man.  Goldacre is supported by not-for-profit “Sense About Science” [which seems anything but sense about anything].  Sense About Science is an industry founded not-for-profit who are really running the AllTrials campaign and not Goldacre.  It looks like at least some of the 80,000 people who have subscribed as AllTrials supporters on the back of Dr Goldacre’s efforts and of those who donated over £40,000 [US$70,000] to Goldacre’s fundraising efforts for Sense About Science have been duped.

Goldacre has posted on Healy’s blog claiming repeatedly that Healy’s facts and conclusions are all lies.  Goldacre stamps his little foot  and screams and screams, showing himself up whilst in the process convincing the reader he has no answers to the criticisms.  [If Goldacre had any, you will not see them in his comments on Healy’s blog.  See Goldacre’s most recent comments here and here. So much for Goldacre’s claims to believing in scientific debate and peer review when he does not answer challenges with facts.]

Professor David Healy reveals information about how GlaxoSmithKline has been hiding information about killer drugs which it presents as safe and effective when they are not, like Paroxetine which causes children to commit suicide when supposedly meant to treat depression.   Professor Healy states:

Right now today GSK are refusing to tell the children who have been injured by their drug in Study 329 that they were injured by their drug.  Tomorrow GSK will do the same and tomorrow and tomorrow. ….. The reason GSK, Pfizer, Lilly and AbbVie don’t want anyone to get access to the data is so that no-one can access the damage.  No-one can find out about the Dan Markingsons who die or are injured in company trials.  They are not doing this out of a concern for Dan Markingson’s confidentiality.  They are doing it in order to avoid being sued.”

GlaxoSmithKline signed up to AllTrials on its own terms. GSK negotiated their way onto AllTrials by specifying what they would and would not reveal.

If you thought AllTrials was about getting all drug trial data published and so opened up to scientific scrutiny, like Dr Ben Goldacre and cronies want you to think, then you and 80,000 other individuals who publicly backed AllTrials on that basis and some who donated towards over £40,000 [US$70,000] at Goldacre’s exhortations, seem to be wrong, judging by the information Professor Healy reveals.

Professor Healy also quotes evidence given by Tracey Brown of Sense About Science to an English Parliamentary investigation and another well-informed medical commentator also explains in detail here

Tracey Brown was asked by the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee on 15 May 2013:

Ms Brown, just to be clear, is the aim of the campaign to have all four levels published?

Tracey Brown: No, …… What we are finding out is that “full” means something different for different people ….

Different people?  Now who could she mean?  GSK signed up in February 2013 and this evidence was in May 2013. And Ms Brown says “What we are finding out“.  So Sense About Science [ie. Ms Brown] was in the process of finding out from GSK – an organisation instrumental in founding and originally funding Sense About Science and thus getting Ms Brown her job [after she abruptly jumped ship from Marxism to back capital following the end of the Cold War] that GSK do not want full scientific disclosure of the data.

If you gave money to Dr Ben Goldacre’s fund-raising campaign and feel you were duped are you going to email Dr Goldacre and ask for your money back?  How about unsubscribing from AllTrials?  What chance is there that Marxist Ms Brown will willingly let you do that?

Dr Ben Goldacre has cultivated a public image of a tousled unkempt irresponsible geeky young man to appeal particularly to the under 25 year-old childless males and the over fifty men who apparently predominantly populate the ranks on sites like Dr David Gorski’s ScienceBlogs blog and Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience Forum.  These are sites where you can see rampant untrammeled internet abuse, bullying and harassment of anyone who does not agree with them by one too many of those who infest those sites.

And now what we seem to be seeing, in our interpretation, is the cultivation of a particular image of Dr Ben Goldacre who seems to be fronting industry manipulation through the internet and social media by use of the such an image.  What else can it be?  Professor Healy has given Dr Goldacre numerous opportunities to comment and set the record straight. Dr Goldacre seems to respond with a lack of facts mixed with his brand of bullying and accusations and not much else.

To make up your own mind read yourself the exchanges between David Healy, Ben Goldacre of AllTrials, and Tracey Brown of Sense about Science and their own comments see Sense about Science: Follow the Rhetoric, Sense about Science: First Admit no Harm, Sense about Science: Follow the Lawsuit.  A major issue is GSK’s signing up to AllTrials and its appearance of being a Trojan Horse.

Here on CHS we declare an interest.  We do not believe anything Dr Goldacre has to say about these matters and we certainly do not trust him any further than a dead possum can throw him.

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Sense About Science – Dr Ben Goldacre’s Industry Founded Backers Exposed

If you want priceless “must read” stuff then Sense about Science: First Admit no Harm June 9, 2014 is yet another in a series of sensible, straight-talking tough blog posts from mainstream medicine’s drug safety expert Professor David Healy. This is a second post exploring Sense about Science.  The first post is here: Follow the Rhetoric.

Anyone interested in Pharma will know about its ability to Astroturf – to create patient organizations whose role is to promote an illness or subvert an existing one.  Creating awareness of conditions sells drugs.

Less well known is what happens at a higher Astral level.  You can’t sell a product that gets a bad reputation or is removed from the market.  The marketing mission at this meta-level is to risk manage by influencing the debate on Risk.

You do this by setting up think tanks, hiring ex-regulators, academics and others, capturing the regulatory system, and working with a body with a name like Sense about Science.

The regulators advise you on how to get an indication for a drug even though it doesn’t work for that. The academics advise on how to do trials that use a problem your drug causes to hide a problem your drug causes.  The lawyers advise on the trials or studies that need doing in order for you to be able to defend the product in academic and legal settings.

All are involved years, perhaps a decade, before any sign of a legal action or public fuss.  You are able to brief them on the likely legal actions or publicity you could face because the right hand already knows what problems your drug causes, even though the left hand never concedes anything – even after the drug has been removed from the market.  It would be irresponsible to your shareholders not to have defences like this in place.

Click to read on to see the whole superb Healy article and you will not be disappointed:

Sense about Science: First Admit no Harm June 9, 2014

And irony of ironies, here is Dr Ben Goldacre getting you all to give money to Sense About Science – raising funds so Sense About Science can run Ben Goldacre’s AllTrials campaign which is being so successful getting laws proposed to apply throughout the European Union which will ensure drug safety takes 101st place well behind drug industry profits in 1st. 

Ben Goldacre is fundraising for Sense About Science

Quite a coup for Dr Ben Goldacre.  Well done Doc. 

Your parents should be proud of their self-admitted “nerd” son:

Nerds at the parliamentary committee on the Draft Defamation Bill June 14th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre

EU Drug Safety Disaster – AllTrials Campaign – Dr Ben Goldacre Intervenes But Fails To Explain Why AllTrials is Achieving The Opposite of His Promises Of Greater Drug Safety

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pfSi7-2fB

Age of Autism is currently running a story on this:  Goldacre’s Munich Agreement – Publishing Data on the Pharma’s Terms

CHS commented, including to say we don’t trust Dr Goldacre.  Then Dr Ben Goldacre dropped by to comment.   The debate is looking interesting.  You could do yourself a favour by taking a look: Comments.

CHS has recently reported this issue:

Martin Walker’s book on Dr Ben Goldacre can be found here:  Cultural Dwarfs and Junk Journalism: Ben Goldacre, Quackbusting and Corporate Science

Meanwhile we cherrypick:

This is what CHS first wrote:

Dr Ben Goldacre then posted this:

CHS then wrote this:

 

 

 

EU Draft Drug Safety Laws A “Disaster” – Congratulations To Dr Ben Goldacre & AllTrials On Undermining Drug Safety Worldwide

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pfSi7-2eS

Dr Ben Goldacre’s involving himself in drug safety regulation looks like turning into a nightmare for everyone except the drug industry.  When we look at who is really behind his AllTrials Campaign, there is good reason to be worried.

Dr Ben Goldacre, as a seeming new convert to drug safety regulation, published a book “Bad Pharma” last August about the drug industry.  He also took it seemingly upon himself to found the AllTrials campaign with great public fanfare to get drug industry clinical trial data opened up to scientific scrutiny.

The most recent outcomes have been described as a “disaster” by internationally respected expert Dr David HealyMaking Medicine More Dangerous for You and Your Children – Drug Industry Wins System Which Hides Drug Hazards  

Others also are concerned about the fallout and effects of Dr Goldacre’s meddling.  CHS reports on some of those further concerns here. We specifically quote below Trudo Lemmens of the University of Toronto.  Trudo Lemmens is Associate Professor and Scholl Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, with cross appointments in the Faculty of Medicine and the Joint Centre for Bioethics.

Trudo Lemmens observations are most revealing about the disaster Dr Ben Goldacre and his playmates have been instrumental in unfolding.  In short Dr Goldacre has been instrumental in building a platform of political pressure for change of drug regulation with the drug industry taking over the impetus to manipulate regulation favourable to it and get its own way to the detriment of you, your family and children.

Well done Dr Ben Goldacre.

Dr Ben Goldacre’s response to criticism is to use his extensive BadScience Forum network and social media to stir up bullying, abuse and harassment on the internet of anyone who dares criticise him: Dr Ben Goldacre Forced By CHS to Answer Criticism Over Drug Safety – But Not Before Goldacre’s Usual Response – Bullying, Abuse & Harassment.

But first CHS directs your attention to The AllTrials Campaign.  Who is really behind it? 

It is run for Dr Ben Goldacre by lobby front group Sense About Science. That Sense About Science are behind Dr Goldacre’s campaigning is more than a little troubling. 

Sense About Science were first exposed by journalist George Monbiot writing in the UK’s Guardian newspaper in 2003: Invasion of the entryists How did a cultish political network become the public face of the scientific establishment? 9 December 2003 The Guardian.

Sense About Science were also exposed by Lobby Watch as having strong links to the GMO industry, the Living Marxism group and Spiked.

Sense About Science are listed under “Contact Info” buried at the end of a very long page as the only contact point for AllTrials on the AllTrials website:

c/o Sense About Science, 14A Clerkenwell Green, London, UK, EC1R 0DP. Phone: +44 (0) 20 7490 9590 Email: alltrials@senseaboutscience.org  Web: Contact form

Quite why a bunch of British Marxists should also suddenly espouse capitalistic ideals of industrial and commercial science after the Berlin Wall came down following “Glasnost” and “Perestroika” in the former Sovier Union is something which defies belief.  It is almost as if whatever their old job was as Cold War Warriors, there was a new job to do and they just jumped from their Marxist horses mid gallop for capitalist ones to ride off in a completely different direction.

Here are some of the entries on Lobby Watch’s website under the heading “LIVING MARXISM LINKS”

Living Marxism

Sense About Science

Genetic Interest Group

Science Media Centre

Fiona Fox

Spiked-online

Frank Furedi (Click & then see Living Marxism profile)

Getting drug trial data opened up for scientific scrutiny is something many many others have been working at for decades, having to counter the manipulations of the drug industry to avoid that happening.

So how come no-longer-so-fresh-baby-faced Dr Ben Goldacre with his new friends thought he could succeed in a few months where others have toiled for decades and continue to do so against the well greased wheels of the drug industry in political life?  Or was that ever a  serious consideration?  Is it all smoke and mirrors? 

The involvement of Sense About Science and its history suggests it is and always was.  On the most favourable view we at CHS can take, at the very least Dr Goldacre has been unwise in his choice of friends.  And at the most one can only speculate. 

Dr Goldacre also enlisted the help of Dr Fiona Godlee, the editor of a leading medical journal, the British Medical Journal.  The BMJ has close ties to the drug industry.  It makes millions of dollars annually from drug industry advertising and promotion worldwide.

And was it wise of British Prime Minister David Cameron to let Dr Ben Goldacre be appointed to advise in the British Cabinet Office on using randomised controlled trials in “Evidence-Based Policy.  If the drug industry can get away with manipulation of the systems of clinical trials over decades, and still do it with great success, just imagine what damage could be done in the UK and across the European Union by Dr Goldacre’s promotion of such harmful practices.  We will get political policies “proven” by controlled trials just like killer drugs like VIOXX and useless drugs like Tamiflu have been proven.  If Dr Goldacre did not foresee the issues identified by Trudo Lemmens as noted here below, then Dr Goldacre had no business advising anyone.  When we have people like Dr Ben Goldacre looking out for the public interest in Europe, we at CHS suggest the Taliban or Al Qaeda are the least of our worries. 

Dr David Healy is a serious longstanding academic and medical practitioner who is an expert in clinical trials in psychopharmacology, the history of psychopharmacology, and the impact of both trials and psychotropic drugs on our culture.  Dr Healy’s interests in and concerns for drug safety are far longer and deeper than Dr Ben Goldacre’s seemingly sudden, recent and superficial conversion to such a worthy cause.  Dr Healy’s book “Pharmageddon” is about how pharmaceutical companies have hijacked healthcare with life-threatening results set out in a riveting story that affects us all: University of California Press (2012) – available on Amazon.com.

And here are the concerns of expert Trudo Lemmens of the University of Toronto. Trudo Lemmens has just critiqued the recently distributed draft European Medicines Agency Clinical Trials Data Release Policy regarding the release and use of drug trial data:  EMA’s Proposed Data Release Policy: Promoting Transparency or Expanding Pharma Control over Data? PLOS Guest Blogger Trudo Lemmens

Trudo Lemmens is Associate Professor and Scholl Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, with cross appointments in the Faculty of Medicine and the Joint Centre for Bioethics.

To quote extracts of Trudo Lemmens critique, this is where – and predictably where with warnings from experts like Dr Healy – that Dr Ben Goldacre’s meddling has led.  There were clear warnings.  Surely Dr Goldacre and Dr Godlee must have been aware of these issues?

Trudo Lemmens comments are also relevant to the rise of right wing anti-European Union nationalist groups in the EU.  There is considerable public disquiet about the corrupt EU political system.  It is clearly a system which cannot be fixed and is a big driver for the recent election successes in the UK and across the EU of right-wing politics.

Trudo Lemmens wrote:

In short, EMA’s approach is strengthening industry’s legal control over data, making it more difficult and legally risky for independent scientists to use them. These are in essence regulatory data, created for public interest use. For the EMA, a key public institution, to now support the privatizing of pharmaceutical knowledge through contractual affirmations of companies’ rights over these data is truly astounding. Dr. Rasi’s recent response to the Ombudsman, that EMA’s new policy is a ‘reasonable compromise’, and does not prevent researchers from asking for access to specific data sets on the basis of the existing access to information policy, does not reassure. His response does not recognize the legal concerns raised by the draft TOU and Redaction Principles, let alone justify the approach taken. And Abbvie’s withdrawal of the legal challenge of the Humira data release notwithstanding, EMA appears back in the business of imposing more extensive limits on what it gives access to in response to specific access requests.

This troubling development is not entirely surprising. Even if the transparency movement had some major victories, including the adoption of transparency requirements in the recent European Clinical Trials Regulation, opposition has been mounting. Industry may now employ other regulatory initiatives to fight transparency. The European commission recently released a draft directive aimed at streamlining and strengthening Trade Secret protection in Europe. The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) jumped already enthusiastically on the occasion, emphasizing the need to protect the “proprietary know-how” of drug development, including in the “clinical trials phase”. In the context of ongoing and largely secret transatlantic trade negotiations between Europe and the United States and Canada, the pharmaceutical industry has also been lobbying hard to strengthen data and IP protection and to include better data protection in the package. EMA now appears to be lending a helping hand.

Extracts from:

EMA’s Proposed Data Release Policy: Promoting Transparency or Expanding Pharma Control over Data?  By PLOS Guest Blogger Trudo Lemmens

Dr Ben Goldacre Forced By CHS to Answer Criticism Over Drug Safety – But Not Before Goldacre’s Usual Response – Bullying, Abuse & Harassment

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pfSi7-2eu

[See also recent closely related post:

Congratulations Dr Ben Goldacre On Undermining Drug Safety Worldwide]

It is rare to see Dr Ben Goldacre embarrassed into answering serious criticisms.  This follows a blog post here on CHS.  This blog post in fact:  Making Medicine More Dangerous for You and Your Children – Drug Industry Wins System Which Hides Drug Hazards. 

Although rare, you will also see, this was only after Dr Goldacre’s usual much less than rare response of engaging in bullying, abuse and harassment failed.  CHS has reported previously on bullying abuse and harassment meted out from Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience Forum: Dr Ben Goldacre’s Grovelling Apology For Sexual Abuse, Bullying & Harassment of Female Doctor & Medical Journalist By His BadScience Forum Trolls and Bullies

People like Dr Ben Goldacre and another with a role in this, Simon Singh, seem to be hypocrites in claiming to espouse and endorse the role of science in taking knowledge forward, only when it suits them. Here you can see what happens when others subject people like them to scrutiny and call them to account. 

A chain of events leading to the current situation was triggered when The London Review of Books invited and then rejected Dr David Healy’s careful, thorough but critical review of Dr Ben Goldacre’s book “Bad Pharma“. The rejection of Dr Healy’s review is bizarre and especially from The London Review of Books.  Dr Healy writes about that here: Not So Bad Pharma March 28, 2013.

Do note in the context of Dr Ben Goldacre answering criticisms now, that was posted by Dr Healy over a year ago.

Dr David Healy is a serious academic and medical practitioner who is an expert in clinical trials in psychopharmacology, the history of psychopharmacology, and the impact of both trials and psychotropic drugs on our culture.  Dr Healy’s interests in and concerns for drug safety are far longer and deeper than Dr Ben Goldacre’s seemingly sudden, recent and superficial conversion to such a worthy cause.  It is also worth noting that Dr Healy’s book “Pharmageddon” is a better account than Goldacre’s populist pulp paperback.  “Pharmageddon” is about how pharmaceutical companies have hijacked healthcare with life-threatening results set out in a riveting story that affects us all: University of California Press (2012) – available on Amazon.com.

Dr Ben Goldacre cultivates an irresponsible unkempt slightly weird geeky image which seems intended to and it seems it also does appeal to “trendy” social media savvy young “turks” [and a number of the not so “trendy” who seem to like to think they are].  “Cool” may be a more common term but 1970s ageing hippy term “trendy” seems more appropriate in this context.  

Simon Singh is a physicist turned broadcaster turned “science” author who managed single-handedly with just one word “bogus” in a “science” article to end up being sued in a defamation law suit in the English courts which it seems was avoidable in quite a number of different ways.  The defamation case was followed by a high profile campaign supposedly about scientific freedom of speech depicting himself as a martyr to it. 

It cost him personally £50,000 [he claims].  He subjected his family to two years of avoidable stress, with a figure of around ten times that hanging over them had his appeal not saved him [and them]. 

Singh could have apologised over the complained about meaning of the term “bogus” – with its overtones of dishonesty – whilst still saying the same sort of thing in another way and still making his point.  That this is the case appears confirmed by video coverage supporting his legal fight which is posted on YouTube.

Singh’s claim to a “victorious” end result included a change to English defamation law which some defamation lawyers consider makes very little difference.  It appears a valid perspective that his efforts may have in the long term a chilling effect on science journalism which his martyrdom it was claimed would avoid.  To us on CHS Singh looks selfish and publicity hungry whilst wittingly or not serving commercial interests which remain faceless. 

The rejection of Dr Healy’s review of Dr Ben Goldacre’s book is so bizarre that Dr Healy then followed up his initial blog post with a series of articles again last year addressing the issues factually and in detail.  So the main criticisms go back starting over a year ago.

This chain of events led to Dr Healy’s 21st May blog post this year upon which CHS commented.

And there we see the outcome.  It was that post by CHS which in turn led to the bullying, abusive and harassing responses directly by Dr Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh and some of their camp followers.  This demonstrates it is not just a few of their followers who engage in this conduct.  It was also that post which, as will be seen below, drew direct attention to Dr Ben Goldacre’s role in bringing about a situation in which drug safety worldwide appears to be being undermined by the drug industry.  You will also see Dr Ben Goldacre admitting his hand was forced to answer the criticisms against his will.

Internet bullying, abuse and harassment is a modern scourge and people like Dr Ben Goldacre and Simon Singh are examples of those leading its spread.   Goldacre has over 325,000 “followers” just on Twitter and Singh has over 50,000.  And Twitter allows only a few words, so it is a perfect medium for one-line, soundbite abuse, bullying and harassment.

This is nothing short of ensuring if any individuals criticise the likes of Goldacre and Singh, instead of the criticisms being answered, they get their names blackened on the internet by the hordes of bullies and hangers-on who do it for Goldacre. 

This has a very damaging effect on science and public comment and free speech.  It is not responsible behaviour and people of such ilk should be shunned and rejected just in the same way those who espouse violence rather than persuasion and argument to get their own way are.  Violence is just another form of bullying, abuse and harassment.

You can see a rare example of Dr Ben Goldacre himself asking his hordes to stop bullying, harassing and abusing another journalist – of course well after the damage was done and no doubt because the example made clear to UK radio station LBC’s management just what Goldacre’s BadScience Forum engage in: Sigh. Do not abuse Jeni Barnett personally February 11th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre.  Ironically a point radio presenter Jeni Barnett was making was that she did not know much about issues of vaccines causing autistic conditions but that there seemed to be a lot of bullying going on about it.  

In short, it seems to us on CHS that Goldacre had to act in the Jeni Barnett case because he had to limit the damage to himself from the behaviour of his camp followers. If it was not so public we on CHS have little doubt Goldacre would do nothing.  And that is evidenced by the fact his BadScience Forum still exists doing what it does on a daily basis.  These examples show Dr Ben Goldacre knows what goes on.  He is not ignorant of it.

So here CHS focusses on what seems, on a critical analysis, the less than responsible behaviour of Dr Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh and others like them.  There are informal international networks of people like Dr Goldacre, Simon Singh and their camp followers.

Here is a specific recent example of a leading distinguished scientist being silenced by bullying because he had the temerity to question what appears to be an odd position that there has been no global warming so far this century: Climate change science has become ‘blind’ to green bias Sarah Knapton, Science Correspondent The Telegraph 16 May 2014.  It seems the bullying led Professor Bengtsson to cease engaging in the issue – and we link to a bullying blog on this to make the point about how widespread this kind of bullying, abuse and harassment is and how damaging and irresponsible it is.

CHS is fortunate in now being able to cite specific examples of Dr Goldacre, Simon Singh and others engaging directly in online bullying, harassment and abuse. Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience Forum is set up and run in a way which encourages online bullying, abuse and harassment.  It is routine for one too many of its members.

CHS’ post was published 21st May.  A week later at 2pm 27 May this is what Simon Singh “tweeted” to his 50,000+ Twitter followers:

Simon Singh@SLSingh

I seldom swear, but here’s fuckwittery of the highest order RT @lecanardnoir Quacks still have it in for @bengoldacre

Now firstly note this is a response to serious criticisms of Ben Goldacre made first by Dr David Healy on serious issues of drug safety.  So Singh is quite deliberately engaging in bullying, abuse and harassment and publishing it to his camp followers.

Within 15 minutes this is how Dr Ben Goldacre replied to Singh copied to Goldacre’s 325,000+ “followers” and Singh’s 50,000+:

ben goldacre@bengoldacre

@SLSingh @lecanardnoir yeah, channeled directly from the fevered imagination of @DrDavidHealy

So here we can see the bully Dr Ben Goldacre engaging directly himself in bullying, abuse and harassment of an internationally respected medical professional and academic and doing so in response to serious criticism made of Goldacre. It was the normal Goldacre response – bully.

There were in total over 40 replies and numerous “re-tweets” of the exchanges mostly involving more bullying, abusive and harassing comments from Goldacre and Singh camp followers. 

However, notably Goldacre later admits to having to reply grudgingly to Dr Healy’s criticisms – with the intervention no doubt of others behind the scenes like the industry lobby front organisation Sense About Science, pointing out how damaging it might be not to.  Rather than being pleased to have the opportunity to showcase his perspective to a critical academic Goldacre moaned on Twitter:

Sadly driven by @DrDavidHealy A real shame to have to stop productive work and reply to him

This was of course only after well over a year of Dr Healy’s criticisms, as a leading expert on these issues, being online.  And Goldacre did not post his responses on his own blog.

The exchanges between Goldacre and Healy can be read starting here with Dr Goldacre’s response in which Goldacre opens [surprise!] abusively with disparagement and [according to Dr Healy’s reply] misrepresenting the position:

This blog post by David Healy is absurd.”

And this is how Dr Healy started with his response to Goldacre [our emphasis]:

The first point to make is this post isn’t about AllTrials. AllTrials is a footnote.

It’s about the dismay that many felt at EMA backsliding. It’s about how it was obvious that something like this was on the cards. Against this background uncritical endorsement of industry looked like a bad idea. There was a desperate need to stay awake. It looks like too many of us have been asleep.

Ben offers an outline of the AllTrials strategy here. It’s helpful to have this.

His accusation that these posts misrepresent campaigns, smear people, shout abuse, and hector from the sidelines looks like a description of posts by others elsewhere. With very few exceptions any comments to the various posts on this blog that in any way fail to support Ben or AllTrials have been deleted.

The post repeated an alternate analysis – that the main thing industry wants to hide are adverse event data.

Now that CHS has provoked the dialogue, you can have the benefit of reading and making your own mind up about how absurd Dr Ben Goldacre might or might not now be looking.  That is a position you would not have been in before.

What we probably will never have an answer to which all will find satisfying are answers to these questions made in CHS’ prior post on this issue:

Dr Ben Goldacre founded the AllTrials campaign.  Why did he found the AllTrials campaign? What was in it for him?  Who suggested it?  Who funded it? Who supported it? And why have we ended up with what Dr Healy describes as a disaster for us all and a victory for the drug industry, all successfully fronted by Dr Ben Goldacre?

Other information regarding Dr Goldacre’s connections and interests directly and indirectly to drug maker GlaxoSmithKline can be read here What’s Behind Ben Goldacre?

And this appeared here:

Dr Goldacre’s ‘Bad Science’ column began in the Guardian in 2003 and he rapidly rose to prominence receiving the Association of British Science Writer’s award for that year for an article on the MMR issue ‘MMR: Never mind the facts’. It may be noted that the ABSW awards were at the time sponsored by MMR manufacturers and defendants GlaxoSmithKline [1]. It was also not disclosed at any time, though Dr Goldacre’s column dealt heavily in issues of epidemiology and public health policy that his father, Michael Goldacre, was a professor public health at Oxford and a leading government epidemiologist [2, 3, 4] whose work had included papers on MMR (notably GSK’s Pluserix vaccine after it was withdrawn by the manufacturers in 1992) [5].  In the case of Pluserix it should also be taken into consideration that the NHS had apparently indemnified the manufacturers for the use of what was known to be a faulty vaccine (already being removed from use in Canada in 1988 and its license revoked there in 1990) [6, 7]. Despite the growing public celebrity of the younger Goldacre, and the professional prominence of the older, no authoritative information for their familial relationship came to light before 2009, although it is the sort of matter that might normally be in the area of public comment.

It is evident that had this been generally known from the beginning Ben Goldacre’s column would have been seen in quite a different light. Also, if this had been known and Ben Goldacre had wished to assert that he was nevertheless an independent voice, the public would still have been better informed. Moreover, there must have been a huge circle of people “in the know” who never commented in the public domain until Ian Fairlie did in 2009 [2], which is in itself a remarkable circumstance.

Ben Goldacre repeatedly ducked answering questions about the shortcomings of the epidemiology of the safety of MMR both in his Guardian blog and in British Medical Journal over an extended period [1,8]. Typically he would engage in ad hominem attacks against his critics on the issue (never mentioned by name) but not answering their specific questions. For a long time his website carried the intimidatory message “…personal anecdotes about your MMR tragedy will be deleted for your own safety” [9] and he has an on-line shop which sells novelty merchandise declaring the safety of MMR, including at various times t-shirts, thongs, mugs and baby-bibs, as well as characteristically abusive items about nutritionists and homeopaths [10]. Another problem was that though Goldacre styled himself as a junior doctor he was coy about which institutions he was affiliated to, which at one point included the Institute of Psychiatry [11]. This not only disguised potential conflicts over MMR because of the Institute’s relations with pharmaceutical manufacturers, but also mobile phone radiation. At one point Goldacre was involved in making a personalised attack on a fellow journalist Julia Stephenson while not disclosing that his institution included the industry funded Mobile Phones Research Unit [11]. Of course, if you personally attack those people who may have suffered ill effects from the products you are defending this is taking the debate to somewhere else than science (and perhaps to somewhere not very pleasant).

Making Medicine More Dangerous for You and Your Children – Drug Industry Wins System Which Hides Drug Hazards

Shortlink to this post:  http://wp.me/pfSi7-2dp

Why You Should Not Trust Dr Ben Goldacre On Drug Safety – Is Goldacre Really GlaxoSmithKline’s Trojan?

[See also recent new posts: 1) Congratulations Dr Ben Goldacre On Undermining Drug Safety Worldwide and 2) Dr Ben Goldacre Forced By CHS to Answer Criticism Over Drug Safety – But Not Before Goldacre’s Usual Response – Bullying, Abuse & Harassment]

If you go out and buy a car which the dealer knows has serious undisclosed faults, a crime has been committed.

It is an accepted fact even in the drug industry that most drugs do not work in most people.  So if you go out and buy a drug which for most people does not work and which has serious undisclosed faults which could kill or injure [eg. VIOXX] no one in the drug industry goes to gaol.

This CHS post is about safety: your safety, your children’s safety and your family’s safety.

This is also in part about how drug companies withhold data on drug trials which show their drugs do not work and are dangerous.

This post is also about Dr Ben Goldacre’s role in giving the appearance of holding the drug industry to account over drug trial data whilst the end result seems to be Dr Ben Goldacre is helping the drug industry make it look like progress is made whilst in fact manipulating drug safety issues so that we have the same old same old.  In recent times Dr Goldacre along with Dr Fiona Godlee, British Medical Journal Editor, have been campaigning to get drug companies to sign up to the AllTrials campaign. 

Dr Ben Goldacre founded the AllTrials campaign.  Why did he found the AllTrials campaign? What was in it for him?  Who suggested it?  Who funded it? Who supported it? And why have we ended up with what Dr Healy describes as a disaster for us all and a victory for the drug industry, all successfully fronted by Dr Ben Goldacre:

Everyone is in a spin.  AllTrials are asking for more donations to continue their successful campaign.

As someone who has been working the GSK system, I can say with confidence that this is a disaster.

Dr David Healy has published HERE a remarkably astute analysis of how GlaxoSmithKline has succeeded in manipulating the AllTrials campaign and giving the appearance of transparency in making drug trial data available:

…….  soon after being fined $3 Billion, GSK trumpeted their endorsement of transparency by signing up to the AllTrials campaign and declaring their intention to put in place a method to allow researchers access to clinical trial data that would go beyond the wildest dreams of researchers.  See April Fool in Harlow, and GSK’s Journey.

Healy notes regarding Dr Ben Goldacre:

When GSK signed up to AllTrials Ben Goldacre rolled over and purred.  The BMJ featured Andrew Witty on their front cover as the candidate of hope.  ………….

In contrast, on this blog, 1boringoldman and on RxISK a small group have warned consistently that this was not good news.  That what would be put in place was a mechanism that gave the appearances of transparency but in fact would lock academics into agreeing with GSK and other companies as to what the outcomes of their trials have been.

No one wanted to rain on the AllTrials parade – it never seems like a good idea to fracture a coalition. RxISK put the AllTrials logo on its front page.

Not content with a few academic ghost authors, GSK’s maneuver has put industry well on the way to making Academia a ghost, a glove puppet manipulated by company marketing departments.

Meanwhile Iain Chalmers co-wrote an editorial with GSK endorsing the GSK approach (The Attitude of Chicks to Trojans and Horses) and the British Government produced a document on clinical trial data access that could have been written in GSK central.

Seasoned observers of Dr Goldacre’s progress and career may feel they have good reason to be sceptical of Dr Goldacre’s actions and motives.  Sun Tsu counselled that to know what the enemy thinks observe what they do, not what they say.

Dr Goldacre in his books and other writing gives the appearance of being critical of the drug industry.  But he only ever seems to write about issues and events that have been known about for a very long time.  Of course, if enough people start making the same observation then perhaps Dr Ben Goldacre may change his approach and write the occasional exposé. Until then, it is a fairly safe bet that Dr Ben Goldacre will carry on as he has always done and never write anything critical about the drug industry which has not already been well covered elsewhere.

In short, Goldacre has ensured he and his camp followers have the fig-leaf to claim he is critical of the drug industry whilst the reality is no damage is done as it has already been done by many others before.

The fact that Dr Goldacre, from absolutely nowhere, suddenly emerged to found the AllTrials campaign is frankly bizarre.  Why him and why then and now?

Dr Ben Goldacre also owns and operates an online “BadScience” forum.  Members of the forum are encouraged to attack practitioners of herbal and complementary and alternative medicine on blogs, in comment fora and to public authorities claiming their treatments are not scientifically proven.  Dr Goldacre wrote in his advice to his forum members: “The time for talking has passed. I draw the line at kidnapping, incidentally.

Now there are good reasons to conclude one too many of these people are bullies.  But there is one supervening reason.  Other reasons include that some members of the BadScience forum block discussion and that some for sport in their spare time disrupt other fora on the internet and attack, bully, abuse and harass ordinary people and parents of very sick children wanting to share information. Groups like Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience forum are organised for just such a purpose on the internet.

A bully picks on others who are weaker than them and Dr Ben Goldacre and one too many of his followers seem to be no exception to this. A bully makes sure, right or wrong, he is always on the stronger side.  Dr Ben Goldacre’s main approach is to attack what he claims is “Bad Science“.  He has for years written as a columnist in a UK national newspaper, The Guardian, a “Bad Science” column.  His website is called “BadScience” and his forum is called “BadScience“.

It is of course also a mystery how it could be that a medical doctor with no degree level scientific training and qualifications was appointed to write a column about science.  And at the time Dr Ben Goldacre was a psychiatrist at the Institute of Psychiatry.  Psychiatry is the least successful branch of medicine in history with treatments lacking any scientific foundations like cutting nerves in a patient’s brain and applying 400 volts to a patient’s brain with what is called electro-convulsive “therapy” [ECT].  Do that to your laptop and the results will not fail to disappoint.

So here is the problem and harm Dr Ben Goldacre poses to everyone by his actions.  The drug industry has had the same approach for over a century.  Medicines from herbs, vitamins and many other other natural products like cod liver oil are known for be safe and effective.  The modern pharmaceutical industry has its foundations and origin in supplying just such products.  But now they are inexpensive and not patented, but still effective and so are a threat to the drug industry’s profitability.

The main reason why Complementary and Alternative Medicine is not “scientifically proven” is because no one has been funding the research to prove remedies already known to be safe and effective for hundreds and even thousands of years.  Dr Ben Goldacre knows this.  So like all bullies he takes the stronger side to bully those in a weaker position.

Now let us put some numbers to this so you can see just exactly what kind of bully Dr Ben Goldacre is.  The U.S. National Institutes of Health [NIH] spends annually on medical research about US$27 billion, on pharmaceutically-oriented Western medicine.  The amount it spends on alternative medicine is a tiny tiny fraction of approximately US$130 million and it did not start supporting CAM research until 1992.

So how can Goldacre claim most of CAM has no scientific basis?  That is easy.  No one has paid to do the science on it whereas they spend billions of dollars on research the drug industry benefits from.  For CAM research to catch up would require the US NIH to devote its entire annual budget just to CAM research and do so for several decades.

Yet Dr Ben Goldacre is reported to have said:

one of the central themes of my book [Bad Science] is that there are no real differences between the $600 billion pharmaceutical industry and the $50 billion food supplement pill industry“.

Clearly that is not true when one looks at the amount just the US government spends via the NIH on pharmaceutically-oriented Western medical research.

One of the other problems with Dr Ben Goldacre is that he targets easy targets where criticism might be justified say where an individual makes claims about a product which are not supportable.  That kind of thing is easy.  But the impression given to the entire world by the actions of Dr Ben Goldacre is that all of these treatments are useless and peddled by charlatans when that is not true.

And you must also ask yourself, how can it be then that Dr Ben Goldacre is not campaigning for say half of the US NIH budget to be spent establishing the sound scientific credentials for CAM?  Surely, Dr Goldacre cannot be ignorant of the fact that herbal and CAM treatments and remedies have in many cases long histories of safe and effective use? 

And so why does Dr Ben Goldacre spend so much of his time bullying others when he would be doing a much greater service campaigning for research to prove CAM treatments as safe and effective.  Instead he spends his time trying to eradicate safe and effective CAM treatments and deny them to everyone to the benefit of the drug industry.

Why would he do that if we all can benefit from the wider availability of proven safe effective inexpensive natural treatments?  What is in it for him to harm everyone else’s interests in that way?

And why is he so hell-bent on pursuing the drug industry’s agenda of wiping out herbal medicine and CAM treatments instead of campaigning to establish they are safe and effective?

To know what the enemy thinks observe what they do, not what they say.

And we recommend to all CHS readers to go to Dr David Healy’s blog and read what Dr Healy has to say about Dr Ben Goldacre’s AllTrials campaign and how badly it has ended for all of the rest of us.

This is what Dr Healy has to say about what Dr Ben Goldacre’s AllTrials campaign has achieved:

The key thing that companies are trying to hide are the data on adverse events.  To get to grips with the adverse events in a clinical trial is a bit like playing the children’s game Memory – where you have a bunch of cards with faces turned face down and you get to pick up two and then have to remember where in the mixture those two were when you later turn up a possible match.

Patterns of Deception

In the same way, picking up adverse events is about recognizing patterns – patterns of events, and patterns of deception.

To do this you have to be able to spread maybe a hundred documents out over a big area and dip back into them if something in one document reminds you of something in another.  The new GSMA-ESK remote access system simply won’t allow this.

Not only will it not allow this but it is about to make things far far worse than they are at present.

At the moment when it comes to studies like Study 329, GSK have been stuck by a Court order with putting the Company’s Study Reports up on the web where they can be downloaded and pored over – all 5,500 pages of them for Study 329.  They have refused to do the same for the 77,000 pages of raw data from Study 329, making it available to a small group of us through a remote desktop system.

For all other trials – future and past – investigators won’t even be able to get the Company Study Reports in usable form.  They too will only be accessed remotely.

For anyone who wants to look at the efficacy of a drug this might just about work for outcomes that involve rating scale scores or lipid levels.   The efficacy of drugs is pretty well all that most Cochrane groups, Iain Chalmers and Ben Goldacre are interested in.  The Cochrane exceptions have been Tom Jefferson, Peter Doshi and the Tamiflu group.

But this system is a bust when it comes to adverse events and it won’t work if the efficacy outcomes are in any way complex.

Dr Andrew Wakefield Not Guilty Says BBC – General Medical Council Wrong

With the UK’s national media in a feeding frenzy whipped up by the UK’s Department of Health claiming the current outbreaks of relatively few measles cases are all the fault of Dr Andrew Wakefield, the BBC appears to have slipped up and confirmed that the main plank of the General Medical Council’s case against Dr Wakefield and his two colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital, London, England in 1998 has bitten the dust. 

The main plank of the GMC’s case was that there was only one study carried out by Dr Wakefield and his colleagues on the “Lancet 12” children, that it did not have ethics approval and that it was the study reported in February 1998 in the UK’s medical journal “The Lancet”.

Whilst the BBC is meant to be independent and unbiased as a news source, it has been propping up the UK Government and Health Department’s official line for many years over the MMR/autism issue not being caused by vaccines and that Dr Wakefield was wrong. 

But who in fact is wrong?  If you cannot get your facts right over something pretty major then how can you have your facts right on that issue? 

In a report yesterday it appears to have allowed a significant chink in the UK Government’s position.  The BBC confirms there were in fact two studies carried out: one was for the Legal Aid Board but it was not the one the GMC panel Chaired by Dr Surendra Kumar decided it was.

The three defendant doctors claimed there were two studies: that the Lancet study was not the Legal Aid Board study and that the Lancet study had a different ethical approval – contrary to the GMC’s allegations.

So why has the BBC not covered this.  It is important news.  But here we see them including these significant facts as an aside in a different news report.  This shows however that the BBC’s health journalists are fully aware of the facts and have a grasp of these important details but do not report their importance and significance to the British public who pay directly to fund the BBC.  It is defrauding the British public – they are not getting what they pay vast millions of pounds sterling for.

Further, the complainant to the GMC, Mr Brian Deer, who had been paid by Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times to get “a big story” about the MMR vaccine, withheld crucial lost documents from the GMC investigation, the GMC’s lawyers, the Defendant doctor’s lawyers and everyone else including all the world’s media.  The documents date back many years showing that all the three doctors subjected to the GMC investigation did in fact have and were routinely operating under ethics approval 162/95 and not ethics approval 172/96 – which was for a different study never carried out which Dr Kumar and his GMC panel decided was carried out.

Additionally Dr Kumar’s position as GMC panel Chairman demonstrates it was a “Kangaroo Court“.  Barely two months after the decision to strike Dr Wakefield from the medical register, Dr Kumar was publicly calling for compulsory MMR vaccination. 

Compulsory MMR vaccination is an approach described in 2008 as “stalinist” by the BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum who also said forcing parents to have their children innoculated was “morally and ethically dubious”: No jabs, no school says Labour MP BBC 11 May 2008.  Dr Kumar’s strongly held views on MMR vaccination were never disclosed and raised the question of whether Dr Kumar should have been debarred just from sitting on the panel under the Nolan Principles regulating standards in public life in the UK.

Here is what the BBC reported [CHS emphasis added]:

The General Medical Council found Dr Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct in 2010 and he was struck off the medical register. It did not investigate whether his findings were right or wrong but focused on the way he carried out his research.

Dr Wakefield’s study considered whether there was a link between the three-in-one MMR vaccine and autism and bowel disease.

It focused on tests carried out on 12 children who had been referred to hospital for gastrointestinal problems.

Dr Wakefield was also paid to carry out another study at the same time to find out if parents who claimed their children were damaged by the MMR vaccine had a case. Some children were involved in both studies.”

Government rejects measles outbreak ‘blame’ – 13 April 2013 Last updated at 07:34

And on CHS we have shown in numerous reports with how numerous times the causation position that MMR vaccine causes autistic conditions has been proven time and again and that there is a considerable body of medical and scientific evidence to that effect.  Here are just a few examples:

Vaccination Causes Autism – Say US Government & Merck’s Director of Vaccines

US Government In US$20 million Legal Settlement For Vaccine Caused Autism Case

Japanese & British Data Show Vaccines Cause Autism

Ginger Taylor’s List of Research Linking Vaccines to Autism

All is of course ignored by the BBC –  cowed into submission and controlled by the UK Government – which holds the purse strings for its budgets.