Clinical trials

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Clinical trials

The antivaccine movement and conspiracy theories go together like beer and Buffalo wings, except that neither are as good as, yes, beer and Buffalo wings. Maybe it’s more like manure and compost. In any case, the antivaccine movement is rife with conspiracy theories. I’ve heard and written about more than I can remember right now,…

Supporters of science-based medicine and keeping pseudoscience out of medicine have a few years to prepare for an onslaught of crappy studies “proving” the value of “integrative” oncology. No doubt at this point you’re wondering just what the heck Orac is talking about. I will tell you. It involves an institution we’ve encountered before and…

These things always seem to happen on Friday. Well, not really. It’s probably just confirmation bias, but it seems that a lot of things I’d like to blog about happen on a Friday. That leaves me the choice of either breaking my unofficial rule not to blog on the weekend or waiting until Monday, when…

Do negative clinical trials change practice?

One of the central themes of this blog from the very beginning is that all medicine, regardless of where it comes from or how it was developed, should be held to a single science-based standard with regards to efficacy, effectiveness, and safety. I tend to focus primarily on “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), now more…

Ever since the latest outbreak of Ebola viral disease in West Africa, there has been panic that’s metastasized to the US, even though the risk of a major outbreak here is very low. Unfortunately, whenever there’s panic over a disease, whatever the disease is, there soon follows quackery in response to that panic, from quacks…

Of all the quacks and cranks and purveyors of woo whom I’ve encountered over the years, Deepak Chopra is, without a doubt, one of the most arrogantly obstinate, if not the most arrogantly obstinate. Sure, a quack like Mike Adams wins on sheer obnoxiousness and for the sheer breadth of crankery to which he ascribes,…

Here we go again. If there’s anything that ignites the fevered brains (such as they are) of antivaccine activists, it’s a good seeming conspiracy. Indeed, as we’ve seen before, if they can’t find a legitimate one, they’ll either exaggerate one or make one up out of whole cloth. This week, an “alleged” conspiracy has been…

Clinical trials of magic

I’ll partially apologize here. The reason is that I said I’d be back to business dishing out the Insolence as usual, be it in the form of my usual 2,000 word gems, or slightly shorter, or a lot longer. However, fate intervened. First, there were new developments in the Frank Arguello threat machine. Go back…

As I happened to be out last night at a function for my department, I didn’t have the time necessary to lay out a 2,000 word bit of Insolence. I did, however, have time to note that yet another practitioner unhappy with being criticized over his scientifically questionable treatment, in this case, Dr. Frank Arguello,…

I hadn’t expected to write about this topic again so soon, but then I didn’t expect a major newspaper to have written such a boneheaded editorial about it. In a way, I hate to write this post, because USA TODAY did great things once. There, Liz Szabo wrote the single best science-based report on cancer…

About five weeks ago a month ago, I finally wrote the post I had been promising to write for months before about medical marijuana. At the time, I also promised that there would be follow-up posts. Like Dug the Dog seeing a squirrel, I kept running into other topics that kept me from revisiting the…

There are times when supporting science-based health policy and opposing health policies that sound compassionate but are not are easily portrayed as though I’m opposing mom, apple pie, and the American flag. One such type of misguided policy that I’ve opposed is a category of bills that have been finding their way into state legislatures…

About a week ago, my good bud Steve Novella noted a tasty bit of silly pseudoscience finding its way around the usual places, such as Facebook, Twitter, and the like. It was one of those times where I smacked myself on the forehead (metaphorically speaking, of course) and asked, “How on earth did I miss…

A sweaty crowdfunded misfire of science

“Team aerobic” by Berner Kantonalturnfest 2010 (Utzenstorf, Bätterkinden, Kirchberg, Koppigen). Original uploader was Equilibrium suisse at de.wikipedia – Transferred from de.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Boteas using CommonsHelper. (Original text: http://www.ktf2010.ch). Licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0-de via Wikimedia Commons. Few people know better than I that times are tough in the world of biomedical research. It’s been…

There’s a point I feel that I have have to make briefly as I begin this post. Basically, this might look familiar, but given that I was at TAM Wednesday through Sunday, I didn’t have time to produce two separate posts, and this is important enough to be distributed as widely as possible. In any…

Three months ago, I wrote about how the Cleveland Clinic had recently opened a clinic that dispensed herbal medicine according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice. As regular readers might expect, I was not particularly impressed or approving of this particular bit of infiltration of quackademic medicine into a major, generally well-respected academic medical center,…

Our regularly scheduled post will go live later this morning. In the meantime, this is a public service announcement…with GUITAR! (Oh, wait.) As you recall, last week, the FDA inexplicably decided to lift the partial clinical hold on Stanislaw Burzynski’s bogus clinical trials of antineoplastons, which he’s used since the 1990s as a pretext to…

Can we just say that vaccines are safe, already? Can we just say that, of all the medical interventions ever conceived by the minds of humans, vaccines have almost certainly saved more lives and prevented more illness? Can we finally say that vaccines do not cause autism? Of course not, unfortunately. I ask the same…

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been almost three years since I first started taking an interest in the Houston cancer doctor and Polish expat Stanislaw Burzynski. Three long years, but that’s less than one-twelfth the time that Burzynski has been actually been administering an unproven cancer treatment known as antineoplastons (ANPs), a…

If this looks a bit familiar to some of you, let’s just say that it’s grant crunch time again. This should be over after today. I hope. In the meantime, one of the difficult things about science-based medicine is determining what is and isn’t quackery. While it is quite obvious that modalities such as homeopathy,…

As if yesterday’s post weren’t depressing enough, last weekend I attended the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, which is part of the reason I didn’t produce much in the way of posts about a week ago. Last Sunday, while aimlessly wandering from session to session and checking…

Here we go again. Two months ago, I noted that Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, the Polish expatriate physician who started out as a legitimate medical researcher and then in the late 1970s took a turn away from science-based medicine and towards being a “brave maverick doctor” through his discovery in blood and urine of substances he…

I happen to be out of town right now, attending the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago. It’s been a more—shall we say?—eventful trip than anticipated, which is why at my not-so-super-secret other blog we have a guest post today and here I will (probably) be shorter than usual. I’m…

Being a cancer surgeon, I realize that my tendency is to view my blogging material through the prism of cancer, particularly breast cancer, my specialty. it’s easy to forget that there are diseases every bit as horrible, some arguably even more so than the worst cancer. When I think of such diseases, it’s not surprising…

Placebo effects in surgery

Although I’m a translational researcher, I’m also a surgeon. That was my first and primary training and only later did I decide to get my PhD during my residency, when the opportunity to do so with a decent stipend presented itself. From my perspective, clinical research in surgery is difficult, arguably more difficult than it…