Respectful Insolence

So true, so true…

What should a drug company do if it spends millions of dollars on a compound and it doesn’t do anything? Easy:

i-a57280fa9ce2418040e81adf91c515e5-Null.jpg

(Click on the panel to see the whole cartoon.)

In fact, I’m surprised more pharmaceutical companies don’t do this…

Comments

  1. #1 Romeo Vitelli
    June 3, 2009

    Don’t they already market pills like that under the “Obecalp” brand name?

    http://inventedbyamother.com/http://inventedbyamother.com/

  2. #2 Rogue Medic
    June 3, 2009

    I think the reason more companies do not do this is the credibility they would lose if people saw no difference between their treatments and the alternative medicine placebos. While many criticize the drug companies for greed and other legitimate problems, this might be too much to recover from in the scientific community. What legitimate scientist is going to want to have the name of essentially an alternative medicine company on his/her resume?

  3. #3 Joe
    June 3, 2009

    I think that’s the story of Vigra.

  4. #4 Joe
    June 3, 2009

    Viagra.

  5. #5 Anthro
    June 3, 2009

    Rogue Medic: You ask:

    ” What legitimate scientist is going to want to have the name of essentially an alternative medicine company on his/her resume?”

    I’ve seen lots of ads for all sorts of alt. products being promoted by people with PhD after their names. In today’s Coop Magazine I saw at least three ads for “complementary” or “integrative” medicine that included large, smiling photos of the MD’s who run them.

    We can rant all we want about Jenny and Jim, et. al., but as long as scientifically trained doctors, pharmacists (many of who offer “bioidenticals” and “saliva tests”), and others with science degrees get involved in CAM, it is that much harder to plead reason with the consumers of this stuff.

  6. #6 Danimal
    June 3, 2009

    Funny. You are giving Big Pharma new ideas.

  7. #7 Rogue Medic
    June 3, 2009

    Anthro,

    I am aware of some doctors shilling for alternative medicine.

    I do not consider them legitimate.

    I do not think that those, who might be considering a job candidate for a serious research position, would view this affiliation as positive.

    There are doctors who are willing to trade in their reputations for money. I do not think they would seek serious research positions. They may believe what they promote. They may just do it for the paycheck. Either way, it is unlikely they are not doing it because it will enhance their credibility.

    That was my point.

  8. #8 angry doc
    June 3, 2009

    Nifedipine too, I was told.

  9. #9 Mike
    June 3, 2009

    On the one hand, I am looking at this at work, and when I laughed another nurse asked to see it, and she laughed, too. Great cartoon.
    On the other hand, I am kinda surprised that there aren’t pharmacuetical companies using shell companies to do this. I read an article years ago about them owning generic manufacturers, and I can see this as recouping some expense. As long as they can’t get directly “caught”, why not? (Not that I’m thinking it’s ethical, but who knows if that’s the “bottom line” for them?)

  10. #10 Prometheus
    June 3, 2009

    It may shock some of the “alties” to find out that some of their favorite “supplements” and other “alternative” remedies are made by companies owned by “Big Pharma”.

    A few years ago, I was tracking down a particular “alt” remedy (can’t remember which) and I had my sister (a lawyer) check into their corporate history. Imagine my surprise when I found that this “all natural supplements” company was owned – at two removes – by one of the biggest of the “Big Pharma” mega-companies.

    “Big Pharma” didn’t get to be “Big” by being stupid. They can see the money-making potential of “alternative” medicine as clearly as “Dr. Jay”, “Dr. Sears” and “Dr. Oz”:

    [1] Most “alternative” pharmaceuticals are covered under DSHEA and don’t need FDA approval – that makes them much cheaper to make.

    [2] “Alternative” pharmaceuticals don’t have the insurance burden of drugs that have real effects – that makes them cheaper to sell.

    [3] “Alternative” pharmaceuticals don’t need a prescription – that makes their market much bigger.

    [4] “Alternative” pharmaceuticals don’t need post-market surveillance – that lowers the company’s overhead.

    [5] “Alternative” pharmaceuticals aren’t covered by insurance (not even Medicare) – that means they can charge whatever the traffic will bear. No price discounts or negotiations with sharp-eyed insurance company executives.

    In retrospect, it would be amazing if “Big Pharma” weren’t involved in “alternative” remedies – they are so lucrative! All they have to do – in order to maintain their scientific image – is do the purchase though a subsidiary.

    I have to laugh every time I see or hear people lauding the “alternative” companies that aren’t “just in it for a buck” – they really have not a clue.

    Prometheus

  11. #11 Rogue Medic
    June 4, 2009

    angry doc,

    Nifedipine can have very dramatic effects. Nifedipine used to be used to treat hypertensive crisis, but lowered the blood pressure too quickly. The problem was not a lack of effect.

    FDA label from DailyMed

  12. #12 Michael Simpson
    June 4, 2009

    Funny cartoon. I’ve shared it with my Big Pharma co-conspirators.

    I don’t know if you consider vitamin supplements as alt med (I do, because I think adults who down vitamins just have expensive urine, not much else), but most of the major vitamin brands are owned by Big Pharma. Centrum is a part of Wyeth. One-a-day is owned by Bayer. I could go on.

    I take umbrage with Prometheus’ analysis. The gross margin on alt med products on a dollar basis would not be beneficial to the income statement of Big Pharma. Eye of newt for cancer can’t be sold to a hospital, or submitted to an insurance company for reimbursement, so it would be priced lower than a real treatment for cancer. Moreover, lack of FDA enforcement would still be troubling to the PR departments of most Big Pharma companies. They just won’t risk their brand names on fakery. Look what JNJ did when it’s OTC Tylenol was contaminated by some psychopath.

    Anyways, very funny thread, and informative.

  13. #13 Prometheus
    June 4, 2009

    Michael,

    Take all the umbrage you like – I’ve got plenty.

    The particular “alt-med” company I mentioned was owned by a susbsidiary of a subsidiary (or whatever they call them in the business world) of a “Big Pharma” mega-company. The “Big Pharma” name wasn’t on the product, so their reputation was unsullied.

    Granted, this wasn’t a “cancer cure” type of “alt-med” voodoo, it was a company that produced “supplements”, “antioxidants” etc., so they weren’t likely to be a major embarassment to the parent corporation. Low-grade “alt-med” like that has a low margin but a huge market.

    Money is money – you don’t think the “supplement” and “antioxidant” manufacturers are doing it for charity, do you?

    Prometheus

  14. #14 happeh
    June 4, 2009

    You guys don’t think too good. Did you or the cartoonist think whether or not the cartoon applies to Big Pharma products?

    Of course it does. Many medicines that have been sold by Big Pharma have been found to have no effect. They did exactly what the cartoon is trying to say about alternative medicine. Selling something that does not work.

    For instance.

    “The widely used chemotherapy drug Taxol does not work for the most common form of breast cancer and helps far fewer patients than has been believed, surprising new research suggests.

    If further study bears this out, more than 20,000 women each year in the United States alone might be spared the side effects of this drug or similar ones without significantly raising the risk their cancer will return. That would be roughly half of all breast cancer patients who get chemo now.

    “We want to make sure these data are correct before withholding it (Taxol) from some patients … the stakes are high,” said the lead researcher, Dr. Daniel Hayes of the University of Michigan. “On the other hand, we don’t want to keep a therapy that doesn’t work.”

    So some drug company, some doctors, and some hospitals have been making who knows how much money from 20,000 women with breast cancer for who knows how long selling them taxol, which does nothing for their breast cancer.

  15. #15 Calli Arcale
    June 4, 2009

    Taxol doesn’t work in all cases, but it works in an awful lot of them. That’s certainly not equivalent to the fictional “Nulla” in the comic.

    Regarding alt-med being a major money maker, it really is. Michael and Prometheus are both right that big pharmaceutical companies won’t risk their brand names on unproven stuff — that’s because they’ve invested a lot of money in building up the reputation of these remedies. It’s an essential part of their brand identities. Tylenol. Advil. Motrin. Excedrin. Claritin. Benedryl. Dimetapp. Even the various brand-name aspirins. It’s a very long list. Now that they’re able to advertise prescription medicines directly to the consumer, they’ve done the same thing with those as well. Just look at Viagra, and its truly enviable brand identity; though there are several well-known and well-advertized competitors, it is Viagra which remains synonymous with erectile dysfunction treatment.

    They don’t want to threaten these brands; they’ve invested far too much in building up the fact that they are tested, proven, and genuinely FDA approved. But they also see the lucrative nature of alternative medicine, so they do what any big conglomerate does when it wants to diversify without diluting its brands — it acquires subsidiaries, or creates new companies which will appear to have a separate identity but will in fact be feeding its profits to the same place.

    Pharmaceuticals are not the only place this happens, of course. An interesting parallel is the food industry, and particularly the candy industry. The vast majority of brands are actually owned by just a handful of large conglomerates.

  16. #16 Rorschach
    June 4, 2009

    happeh, on behalf of everyone, please stop posting. You are an idiot. A big, big idiot. The stupid, it burns.

    I will be the first to admit that Big Pharma does pretty much whatever they can get away with to increase the bottom line, but one thing they can’t do is get a drug on the market without evidence of effect. Just ain’t gonna happen. Now, it may be that they’ve engaged in some statistical tomfoolery which exaggerates the benefit, or which implies that a benefit experience in a small subpopulation can be generalized at large when it really can’t, but if there was literally no significant difference from placebo, the FDA won’t approve it. And increasingly, payers such as insurance companies, PBMs, and governments are demanding more than just statistical separation from placebo–head to head trials with the existing standard of care are becoming more and more common, and getting reimbursement depends on showing results.

    So please refrain from posting further until you cease to be ignorant. KTHNXBYE.

  17. #17 Prometheus
    June 4, 2009

    Happeh – good to see you’re feeling better. No more bad dreams about cutting off faces? Good!

    Many medicines that have been sold by Big Pharma have been found to have no effect.

    Happeh then does a segue to:

    “The widely used chemotherapy drug Taxol does not work for the most common form of breast cancer and helps far fewer patients than has been believed, surprising new research suggests.”

    This is from a new item about this article from 2007 (go ahead, read it, it’s FREE):

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/357/15/1496

    In that article, the authors make a somewhat more nuanced statement:

    “We found a significant association between HER2 positivity and a benefit from the addition of paclitaxel after adjuvant treatment with doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide in women with node-positive, stage II breast cancer. Our data raise the possibility of a three-way interaction among HER2 negativity, estrogen-receptor positivity, and a lack of benefit from paclitaxel.”

    Translation: Taxol (paclitaxel) doesn’t work against breast cancer that is HER2 negative and ER positive (apparently the most common type).

    I’m not a breast cancer expert, but my review of the medical literature indicates that “real medicine” picked right up on this and now doesn’t give Taxol to women who have HER2-negative and ER-positive breast cancer. I’m sure Orac could give us the insider view of that.

    How does this indicate that “Big Pharma” sells medicines that “have no effect”? Taxol has a beneficial effect on certain types of breast cancer – according to the study not referenced by Happeh – but not all breast cancer.

    Penicillin doesn’t work on all bacterial infections – does that mean it has no effect?

    I’d like to see what would happen in the “alternative” medicine world if a study found one of their remedies didn’t work. Oh, wait – we have seen what happens! Acupuncture, homeopathy, “energy medicine” – all have been shown to be “without effect”, yet I still hear people using them.

    Here’s the take-home point for Happeh: no matter how many problems you find with real medicine, that still doesn’t make the case that “alternative” medicine is better.

    There are mistakes made in real medicine. No doubt about it. Is there any indication that “alternative” medicine is “mistake-free”? Real medicine occasionally finds out that it was wrong about something; “alternative” medicine never checks to find out. Real medicine is practiced by fallible human beings; as far as I can tell, “alternative” practitioners are just as human (if not more so).

    The fact is, real medicine has a system to correct its errors.

    “Alternative” medicine enshrines them.

    Prometheus

  18. #18 happeh
    June 4, 2009

    Promethius – “happeh, on behalf of everyone, please stop posting. You are an idiot. A big, big idiot. The stupid, it burns.”

    Promethius? You don’t have to call people that prove you wrong names. You are just angry that I proved without a doubt that Big Pharma does charge people for medicine that does not work.

  19. #19 Rorschach
    June 5, 2009

    No, happeh, it was me who called you names. I did it because you are an idiot, who, even after Prometheus’ masterful evisceration of your previous inane comment, continues to believe he has somehow proved that Big Pharma sells bogus drugs.

    Read what Prometheus posted again, I’ll wait.

    Done yet? Because it sure does sound to me like the publication in question states that a benefit is produce in certain patients with breast cancer. Nor is this some kind of post hoc attempt to lie with statistics by claiming credit for random improvement–we can prospectively identify those patients who are likely to benefit using validated biomarkers.

    So I’ll say it again. When you’re ready to post something that’s not idiotic, by all means, do so. Until then, we’ll manage without you.

  20. #20 DebinOz
    June 5, 2009

    OT, but just in the news here in Australia:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/05/2590294.htm

    A homeopath and his wife have been found guilty of the manslaughter of their baby daughter, by treating her eczema with homeopathic ‘remedies’. She died of septicemia.

    So sad…

  21. #21 Paul Browne
    June 5, 2009

    Happeh, Taxanes such as Taxol/paclitaxel certainly do help a lot of breast cancer patients, as these Cochrane reviews show:

    http://mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD004421/frame.html

    http://mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD003366/frame.html

    Of course studies such as the one that you misrepresented above are extremely valuable as they enable doctors to choose the right treatment regime for their patients, and help scientists to develop new chemotherapy drigs to help those who have a type of cancer that current drugs don’t treat.

    You see real medicine is willing to subject it’s treatments to trials that will show whether or not it is helping (or hurting) something alternative medicine is remarkably reluctant to do.

  22. #22 Prometheus
    June 5, 2009

    Happeh complains:

    “Promethius [sic]? You don’t have to call people that prove you wrong names. You are just angry that I proved without a doubt that Big Pharma does charge people for medicine that does not work.

    Happeh, the name (or pseudonym) of the person posting the comment is found at the bottom of the comment.

    As for proving me wrong – I don’t think you did that. You might want to re-read that last several comments.

    Now, in the event that “Big Pharma” can be shown to have sold medicines that don’t work, there is a simple and self-correcting mechanism in place in real medicine. Once a drug is shown to be ineffective, it stops being used.

    Of course, I can’t remember that last time a drug that made it through the FDA testing process (which tests for efficacy and safety) was found to be completely ineffective. Some have been shown to be less effective than initially thought and a number have been found to be more dangerous than phase 3 trials indicated, but I don’t believe that any have been later shown to be ineffective.

    Compare and contrast this with – for example – homeopathy, which has been repeatedly shown to be no more effective than placebo (the definition of “ineffective”). Or, if you don’t like that, how about acupuncture? Or chiropractic for anything but uncomplicated low back pain? Or “reflexology” for anything? Or…..but you get the point. Don’t you?

    All of these “alternative” therapies – including whole “therapeutic paradigms” (like homeopathy) – have been shown – definitively – to be ineffective, yet their practitioners are still out there “treating” patients and – by the way – charging money for it.

    It seems that Happeh has been pointing his finger at the mirror. It’s not “Big Pharma” and real medicine that are charging exorbitant fees for ineffective treatments, it’s “alternative” medicine!

    Prometheus

  23. #23 vlad
    June 5, 2009

    happeh: Please tell me you site is some form of perverted sarcasm. Otherwise you are a disgrace to both martial arts and eastern medicine. You don’t work based on old principles you just pull it right out of your proverbial rear end, more so than most eastern beliefs. My reaction to eastern practices are usually mild amusement you bring out a deep disgust. As far as calling you an idiot believe me I’d prefer to use much harsher words in two languages.

  24. #24 happeh
    June 5, 2009

    Prometheus – “Compare and contrast this with – for example – homeopathy, which has been repeatedly shown to be no more effective than placebo (the definition of “ineffective”). Or, if you don’t like that, how about acupuncture? Or chiropractic for anything but uncomplicated low back pain? Or “reflexology” for anything? Or…..but you get the point. Don’t you?”

    I have addressed how chiropractic could work in another blog entry. Acupuncture does work. The information in reflexology is mostly true

    I have noticed that scientists have pounced on homeopathy as the alternative medicine poster child of bad medicine. I myself find the surface description of homeopathy difficult to accept. Until recently when I saw a science article talking about using dilute amounts of….some type of food to get people used to eating the food. The principle sounded exactly like homeopathy.

    I personally think the homeopathy people are telling fibs just to get rid of troublesome people like you. I think homeopathy is about energy work, but that ephemeral concept is even harder to explain than homeopathy, so why not stick with the physical based homeopathy explanation?
    ———

    vlad – “Please tell me you site is some form of perverted sarcasm.”

    Everything on my websites is serious Vlad. I would be happeh to answer any questions you might have. My impression of commenters on this blog though is that none of them are really interested in understanding what I have to say. They just want to write “your site is “insert negative adjective of your choice””.

  25. #25 Rogue Medic
    June 6, 2009

    happeh,

    You have addressed how you think chiropractic could work, but you basically stated that we have to imagine that it might work and that we have to ignore reality.

    You are ignoring reality when dealing with Prometheus. He demonstrated that you misunderstood what you read. You seem to have misunderstood everything that you have commented on, so at least you are consistent. Just don’t read any Emerson quotes.

    Acupuncture doesn’t work any better than placebo, so if you like being perforated with placebo, you will be happy, or deceived.

    The information in reflexology is mostly true

    Which part of it do even you admit to be untrue?

    I saw a science article talking about using dilute amounts of….some type of food to get people used to eating the food. The principle sounded exactly like homeopathy.

    Homeopathy means that the water is so diluted that it contains none of whatever is supposed to heal. There is only a memory of the supposed cure. A memory that has been hit on some sort of magic book in some sort of magic way, called succussion.

    The real medical treatment is allowing the person to become exposed to more and more of what they are allergic to. The process is supposed to avoid the dramatic allergic response and allow the body to become accustomed to the exposures. Since there is something in the treatment, this clearly is not homeopathy.

    Homeopathy is just a bunch of diluted water, that has been shaken, not stirred.

  26. #26 Happeh
    June 6, 2009

    RogueMedic – “but you basically stated that we have to imagine that it might work and that we have to ignore reality.”

    Another example of why there is no point in talking to you. I did say you have to imagine it worked. I did not say you have to ignore reality. You combine the truth and a lie in the same sentence.
    ———

    You never stop either.

    RogueMedic – “Acupuncture doesn’t work any better than placebo,”

    Acupuncture does work. Out of curiosity, have you tried it personally? Or is your vehement opinion based only on reading?

    RogueMedic – ” (happeh)The information in reflexology is mostly true
    Which part of it do even you admit to be untrue?”

    I am not like you RogueMedic. I do not spout off with certainty about things I am uncertain. I have not throughly studied reflexology. Just to cover myself, I am saying there is probably something in reflexology that does not work. I think it does work. But just to cover myself I am open to the possiblity that there is something in reflexology that might not work.

    If you were a real scientist, you would say something like “I do not believe acupuncture works because of the studies I have seen, but as a scientist I must keep an open mind, so I am open to what I believe is the very small possibility that acupuncture could work”

    The fact that you do not even try to write like that shows you do not think like a scientist. You think like a hater that smashes the things he hates.
    ———–

    RogueMedic – “Homeopathy is just a bunch of diluted water, that has been shaken, not stirred”

    You are probably right. That is why an intelligent person would wonder what else could be going on. I provided a reasonable possibility. Energy work.

  27. #27 Rogue Medic
    June 6, 2009

    RogueMedic – “but you basically stated that we have to imagine that it might work and that we have to ignore reality.”

    Another example of why there is no point in talking to you. I did say you have to imagine it worked. I did not say you have to ignore reality. You combine the truth and a lie in the same sentence.

    The reality is that these treatments do not work, but you tell us to ignore the abject failure of these treatments in scientific studies (reality). You criticize us for not imagining ways that the treatments might work. Not that there is any reason for us to do this other than to entertain your claim that maybe, just maybe, the ineffective treatments are not as ineffective as placebo.

    From Simon Singh appeals Judge Eady’s bogus libel ruling, comment 36 by happeh

    Matthew Cline – “However, coming up with that really requires no imagination, just looking up the pathophysiology of atshma on Wikipedia and combining symptoms under the control of the nervous system with the pinching or stretching of nerves.”

    I agree it requires no imagination. So why did it take from message number 9 when I asked until msg number 27 for you to appear and answer it? That means 18 messages from people who could not or would not provide the simple response you did. Are those 18 other commenters scientists? Or just people coming by here that don’t know science?

    You claim that not playing your game is the same as not knowing science. Nothing I wrote was untrue.

    Back to the above comment.

    You never stop either.

    RogueMedic – “Acupuncture doesn’t work any better than placebo,”

    Acupuncture does work. Out of curiosity, have you tried it personally? Or is your vehement opinion based only on reading?

    The research is clear in showing that acupuncture does not work. Why would I want to try something that doesn’t work?

    happeh how much evidence do you need that something does not work? The odds are not remote, but ridiculously remote.

    To maintain a faith in something that has repeatedly been shown to be no more effective than placebo is a mistake. When there is new evidence to look at, I will look at it. Until then, there is no reason to entertain fantasies. There is no there there.

    The fact that you do not even try to write like that shows you do not think like a scientist. You think like a hater that smashes the things he hates.

    No being hopelessly optimistic about something that has repeatedly failed tests of effectiveness? Therefore I am a hater. As I stated earlier, I am a hater of ignorance. Ignorance kills. Alternative medicine is ignorance. Alternative medicine kills. Forgive me for not encouraging killers.

    ———–

    RogueMedic – “Homeopathy is just a bunch of diluted water, that has been shaken, not stirred”

    You are probably right. That is why an intelligent person would wonder what else could be going on. I provided a reasonable possibility. Energy work.

    The recent case of the homeopathic doctor and his wife killing their little girl with homeopathy suggests that any possible energy is not good energy.

    This child would recover every time conventional medicine was used, then the parents would resume the homeopathy and their little girl would become horribly sick again, eventually the use of homeopathy killed her. Torture and murder by homeopathy.

    Why look for something effective, when we can keep coming up with bogus excuses for these treatments? Treatments that are only effective at promoting disease.

    This is abuse of patients. This is hatred of patients, just to promote your belief in unicorn medicine.

  28. #28 happeh
    June 7, 2009

    RogueMedic – “The reality is that these treatments do not work”

    The reality is that the people doing the study are probably doing the study wtrong. Instead of accepting that very likely possibility, you just keep repeating that the studies prove they do not work.
    ——-

    RogueMedic – “The research is clear in showing that acupuncture does not work”

    The research is wrong. That is why I know that scientists are either stoopid, they are incompetent, or they know everything I say and they are lying. I don’t know which of the three it is, but from the way most scientists I have talked to sound, I am thinking it is because they are close minded and stoopid.
    ————

    RogueMedic – “No being hopelessly optimistic about something that has repeatedly failed tests of effectiveness?”

    One of these days when you meet a compulsive liar, you will understand why I do not believe those results.
    ———————

    RogueMedic – “Therefore I am a hater. As I stated earlier, I am a hater of ignorance. Ignorance kills. Alternative medicine is ignorance. Alternative medicine kills. Forgive me for not encouraging killers.”

    Stop being so dramatic. Alternative medicine has cured more people that conventional medicine has simply by being in existence for centuries longer.

    I am not like you RogueMedic. I try to work with people. I am open to the possibility that you are a well meaning person who truly believes what you do. You are wrong, but you want to do what is right. I cannot really give you trouble for wanting to do what is right. All I can do is try to wake you up to reality.
    ———–

    Rogue? I could tell you what human existence is really about. I could tell you things that would eventually make you forget your current life and become something completely different.

    But you wouldn’t listen to a word I said. And if you did actually hear something I said, you would want to fight with me about it instead of letting it change you into something more than what you think is human.

    I see and hear people like you every day. I know exactly where you are in life, what your mindset is like, and the foolishness that you believe. I know in my heart that nothing I say will change you or any of the other people. Only time will do that. Maybe 10 years or more for you to soften up enough to be able to listen.

    I am stubborn though, so I keep trying to give people a shortcut whether it will work or not.

  29. #29 Michael Ralston
    June 7, 2009

    Happeh? How many studies do you think have been done of acupuncture, or homeopathy?
    Just an order of magnitude will do.
    Do you think it’s been just a handful, or maybe ten, or a hundred, or a thousand…?

    How many do you think there’s been, that you’re so sure that the scientists got every single one of them wrong?

  30. #30 LW
    June 7, 2009

    Why don’t these alternative medicine types run their own experiments — run them properly — if they don’t trust those ignorant scientists to test them fairly?

    It isn’t impossible; I personally know a doctor who came up with a new theory for the cause of a disease and based on that, an entirely new treatment for it. He did it right: many of the patients had been seen by other doctors; their medical status was very well-documented; and after treatment their medical status was again very well-documented either by him or by their original doctors. His experiment wasn’t blinded (the nature of it precluded that) but on the other hand there was very little possibility of a placebo effect (the nature of it precluded that too). He followed the earliest patients for several years, and then he wrote it all up and sent it to a well-respected medical journal.

    The doctors in his field were skeptical at first, but his explanation for the cause of the disease was biologically plausible and so was his treatment, and his results were impressive, so they set to work with randomized clinical trials, and sure enough, they confirmed that his treatment really worked. His treatment reduced medication for patients (take that, Big Pharma!) and reduced the number of surgeries (take that, surgeons!), and it was promptly adopted as one of the front-line treatments.

    Doctors want to help their patients. They want better treatments. If an acupuncturist, or a chiropractor, or a homeopathy practitioner, or a reflexologist, did a proper experiment that really showed a meaningful effect, doctors would take a look. They really would. I know that; I saw it in the case above.

    The reason doctors don’t accept any of those methodologies is that no one has ever managed an experiment to test them that (1) was properly conducted; (2) showed a meaningful effect; and (3) was repeatable.

  31. #31 Rogue Medic
    June 7, 2009
    RogueMedic – “The reality is that these treatments do not work”

    The reality is that the people doing the study are probably doing the study wtrong. Instead of accepting that very likely possibility, you just keep repeating that the studies prove they do not work.

    If all of the alternative medicine practitioners who perform this research are that incompetent, then imagine how bad alternative medicine is.

    RogueMedic – “Therefore I am a hater. As I stated earlier, I am a hater of ignorance. Ignorance kills. Alternative medicine is ignorance. Alternative medicine kills. Forgive me for not encouraging killers.”

    Stop being so dramatic. Alternative medicine has cured more people that conventional medicine has simply by being in existence for centuries longer.

    Alternative medicine does not work.

    The parts of alternative medicine that worked were adopted by conventional medicine.

    If any of the alternative medicine treatments could be shown to be effective, they would be adopted by conventional medicine.

    The remaining alternative medicine treatments are alternative, because they are ineffective.

    Ineffective (alternative) medicine does not cure people.

    It does not matter how long ineffective treatments have been around, ineffective treatments do not work.

    Nothing that is now alternative (ineffective) medicine has cured anyone.

    I am not like you RogueMedic. I try to work with people. I am open to the possibility that you are a well meaning person who truly believes what you do. You are wrong, but you want to do what is right. I cannot really give you trouble for wanting to do what is right. All I can do is try to wake you up to reality.

    And here I am trying to wake you up to reality. A reality that can be shown to be real, as opposed to the subjective reality you propose.

    Rogue? I could tell you what human existence is really about. I could tell you things that would eventually make you forget your current life and become something completely different.

    A warm, embracing, empathetic, caring world of conspiracy, paranoia, and fraud (alternative medicine)?

    No thank you. I have an ethical obligation to my patients.

  32. #32 happeh
    June 7, 2009

    @Michael Ralston – I do not know how many studies have been run, but if they report that acupuncture does not work, every single one of them is wrong.
    ——-

    LW – “The reason doctors don’t accept any of those methodologies is that no one has ever managed an experiment to test them that (1) was properly conducted; (2) showed a meaningful effect; and (3) was repeatable.”

    I appreciate your rational comment LW. Instead of answering your question, I would like you to think about something.

    What if acupuncture had varying success based on the individual it was used on? What if acupuncture worked very well on certain human beings, and did not work very well on other human beings? Then what if I told you that all of those studies done on acupuncture used the human beings that do not respond well to acupuncture?

    It does not take a genius to see the studies will report acupuncture does not work, because they tested human beings on whom acupuncture really does not work very well.

    That is what I mean by setting up studies incorrectly. I am guessing you and other scientists have never considered their might be two or more classes of human beings who respond to acupuncture in varying degrees.
    ————-

    RogueMedic – “A warm, embracing, empathetic, caring world of conspiracy, paranoia, and fraud (alternative medicine)?

    No thank you. I have an ethical obligation to my patients”

    You view this as a competition. Your negativity against my positivity.

    I view this as a scientific discussion to expand the mind’s horizons and to get correct science information into the world’s consciousness. I want to help medical people who do not completely understand how the human body works, alleviate the suffering of their patients more effectively, by opening the minds of the medical people to these other facets of the human body that their public speech indicates they are unaware of.

  33. #33 Michael Ralston
    June 7, 2009

    Happeh: You have just destroyed what credibility you had left, by proclaiming that you are unaware of the evidence and that no amount of evidence could be sufficient to convince you.

    You don’t know how many people acupuncture has been tested on, and yet you know that it only works on some people, and has never been tested on those whom it works on.

    If this is true, then an upper limit to the percentage of people for whom acupuncture can work for is calculable; I believe that it would be around one in a million, possibly even less. I’m sure some of the other commentators here can give better numbers.

  34. #34 Rogue Medic
    June 8, 2009

    I do not know how many studies have been run, but if they report that acupuncture does not work, every single one of them is wrong.

    You view this as a competition. Your negativity against my positivity.

    I view this as a scientific discussion to expand the mind’s horizons and to get correct science information into the world’s consciousness.

    A scientific discussion?

    You only pay attention to science that supports what you believe, but you are going to teach others about science.

    I want to help medical people who do not completely understand how the human body works, alleviate the suffering of their patients more effectively, by opening the minds of the medical people to these other facets of the human body that their public speech indicates they are unaware of.

    You are doing a spectacular job of convincing people.

  35. #35 Happeh
    June 8, 2009

    Michael? You are nitpicking. You did not address the important part of what I said.

    When scientists can claim they understand what is said below, then they will understand why their studies of acupuncture do not return positive results.

    “What if acupuncture had varying success based on the individual it was used on? What if acupuncture worked very well on certain human beings, and did not work very well on other human beings?…

    … I am guessing you and other scientists have never considered their might be two or more classes of human beings who respond to acupuncture in varying degrees.”

    Because I know you are kind of slow, I will tell you where to start your investigation. Figure out what the difference between Asian and Caucasian people is. Don’t waste your time on that stupid genetics stuff. You could find some clues in my work, but I know you won’t go there. ;)

    Once you figure that out, then you will know why your studies say acupuncture does not work.

  36. #36 LW
    June 8, 2009

    In regard to the possibility of different human beings who respond differently, scientists are aware of that. The doctor I mentioned broke down the groups of patients several different ways such as sex, race, and age; and once he’d reported his results, others examined different groups as well, since it was important to know if the protocol needed to be altered for certain groups.

    There is no reason an alternative medicine practitioner could not collect statistics on, shall we say, responders versus non-responders. Once there was a way to identify responders, proper studies could be performed, and they would be repeatable because the experimenters would know that certain groups should be omitted.

    Again, why don’t alternative medicine practitioners run their own, proper, experiments if they don’t trust scientists to test them fairly?

  37. #37 Michael Ralston
    June 8, 2009

    Happeh: The people doing these studies aren’t going to go “most of our patients saw nothing, but one saw a HUGE IMPROVEMENT! Oh well, it must not work at all”. They would then start looking for factors differentiating the one(s) it works for from the ones it doesn’t.

    Unless, of course, it only has a negligable effect in even the ones it works well for, AND they’re rare.

    But the number of studies out there and the degree of effect you’re claiming are simply incompatible, and the fact you’re not aware of there being thousands of studies is very, very, telling.

  38. #38 Happeh
    June 9, 2009

    “But the number of studies out there and the degree of effect you’re claiming are simply incompatible, and the fact you’re not aware of there being thousands of studies is very, very, telling”

    Ya it is telling. It tells you I do not listen to liars or well meaning incompetents. It tells you I believe knowledge is something the individual has, not something he needs permission from a study to believe.

    Do you guys all realize what you are saying in all of these posts? You are saying:

    “I the intelligent scientist, refuse to believe anything unless a study gives me permission”.

    You are not a scientist. You are a little kid waiting for mommy’s permission. You will never learn think for yourself. You will always look to some other authority to tell you what to do.

  39. #39 Joseph
    June 9, 2009

    “I the intelligent scientist, refuse to believe anything unless a study gives me permission”.

    You are not a scientist. You are a little kid waiting for mommy’s permission. You will never learn think for yourself. You will always look to some other authority to tell you what to do.

    Ridiculousness. A lot of us have hypotheses. I often discuss data that has not been addressed in the formal literature. The difference with woos is how hypotheses are approached and talked about.

  40. #40 LW
    June 9, 2009

    You are not a scientist. You are a little kid waiting for mommy’s permission. You will never learn think for yourself. You will always look to some other authority to tell you what to do.

    Lobbing insults at total strangers is not a good way to advance a conversation.

    I still have not received an answer to my question: why don’t alternative medicine practitioners run their own, proper, experiments if they don’t trust scientists to test them fairly?

    You think the people here are stupid, incompetent, and close-minded, and that they refuse to believe except on the strength of a study. Well, why not show them a study? Prove that you’re smarter, more competent, and more open-minded than they are, by conducting a proper study on any alternative medicine modality. Or if you don’t have time or patients to do it yourself, explain to an alternative medicine practitioner how to conduct a proper study that will show these poseurs how it’s done.

    The doctor I described showed that a single practitioner, outside of any university research program, without bothering about grant proposals, can design and run a study that shows the existence of an unsuspected cause of disease and demonstrates the effectiveness of a new treatment. An alternative medicine practitioner can do the same. Why haven’t they?

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