Tuesday, April 3, 2007

"Doctors are trained to spot bullsh@t"

This "Bad Science" article, The Pill Problem, comes from the UK, making it an interesting contrast to the current state of the US. It notes, specifically, that in the US, pharmaceutical companies do an excellent job with "direct to consumer" advertising ("Ask your doctor about..." type ads), but that such ads have historically been blocked in the UK. The author worries that they may begin coming out there, and highlights the standard problem with such ads:

Doctors are trained to spot bullshit...Pharmaceutical companies produce next-level, postgraduate bullshit. Drug reps brandish literature that is the comedic parallel of the promotional stories you get in the media for supplement pills, but the tricks are far more complicated: they cherry pick the literature - looking only at the positive studies - they use surrogate endpoints - a blood test rather than a stroke - they use inadequate controls - a lower dose of the competitor’s drug.

It also notes specifically how psychological problems are, perhaps, the easiest to target with "Ask your doctor about..." ads. And it notes it sure would be nice if there was somebody "advocating against (the)...pill mentality."

Pills are seductive and easy, especially for problems with a strong psychological or social component; but the tragedy is...there is nobody advocating against this disempowering pill mentality: only different groups, some of whom claim to be “alternative”, squabbling over who can sell the most pills.

I guess, to an extent, Oprah does. But she does so by advocating silly, nonsensical, meta-spiritual hogwash as an alternative. By the way, good morning to you:

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