Science is knowledge. Right? Right (I’m glad we agree). We, the human race, benefit from the collective work of scientists because, eventually, the knowledge derived from scientific research is made available in some form or another to the public (pay-walls notwithstanding). This is the very reason organisations like theGIST exist; we want to talk to you about science, expand your knowledge-base and put you in a better position to make decisions about your life, just as a result of simply knowing things. Aren’t we swell? (*spoilers* yes.)
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the highly-educated decision-making professionals who are, say, responsible for prescribing your medication and charged with ensuring your continuing good health, follow this thought process too. That is to say, doctors make decisions from a position of knowledge, arrived at by good, well thought-out and well executed clinical trials (essentially, good science). Up until the publication of Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma, I would have thought this too. However it appears that healthcare professionals have had the ability to make solid, well-informed decisions denied to them. To cut a long book short, many of the pharmaceutical companies that design and run clinical trials are failing to publish the results when the data aren’t to their liking. As a result of this morally-questionable action, your doctor is not in the proper position to decide if the medication they are going to prescribe to you is ultimately to your benefit.
While I have massively over-simplified the situation here, the conclusion is a valid one (if you disagree, please read Bad Pharma and its references and then consider the situation again). If this statement jars you and stirs up some deep-seated anger within you then, please, feel free to do something about it. By doing so, you will be empowering your doctor to better take care of you. If you’re wondering what you can actually do, the answer is simple. Visit alltrials.net, sign the petition, pester your MP and MSP to pay attention to it too and then get involved with the campaign. There are regular emails sent out advising us of how we (the public) can help make this shocking skewing of scientific knowledge a thing of the past and if you participate, I can guarantee* a warm fuzzy-feeling inside that comes about from doing the right thing. Look at that, it turns out that we’re all swell.
*Warm fuzzy feeling not guaranteed. If feeling does not arise from doing the right thing, then the author will personally send you a fuzzy blanket with which to feel warm and/or fuzzy and may even point a low powered hair drier in you general direction to aid with said feeling**
**This is a lie, no hair drying sessions or blankets will actually be sent out to anyone. Seriously, I don’t even own a hair drier and I’m not what you would call a “blanket sort of guy”.