Friday, October 29, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269

In 2001, rumors were circulating in Greek hospitals that surgery residents, eager to rack up scalpel time, were falsely diagnosing hapless Albanian immigrants with appendicitis. At the University of Ioannina medical school’s teaching hospital, a newly minted doctor named Athina Tatsioni was discussing the rumors with colleagues when a professor who had overheard asked her if she’d like to try to prove whether they were true—he seemed to be almost daring her.

Medicine and medical science has been really bad over the years. I mean we are a bit better than ancient Greece to the 19th century when Medical Science was actually harmful, and you'd be more likely to die if you saw a doctor than if you didn't. As well as the hugely terrible issues of hygiene and the cutting off of limbs all willy-nilly. We've gotten really good at cutting people and having them live. And medicine managed to turn the tables and become quite useful, but it's still terrible science at times, with findings of rather massive points being flatly wrong. There were hundreds of studies showing the efficacy of antidepressants. Very reciently GlaxoSmithKline was fined $750 million dollars because they made Paxil that didn't work.

Some of the antidepressant Paxil CR produced at the plant was ineffective because a layer of active ingredient split from a layer of a barrier chemical during manufacturing, the government said, and some lots contained only the barrier chemical.

But, this seems to ignore the rather interesting fact that Paxil, even when made properly, doesn't work. It makes me happy that biology is working on cures for things like vaccines for HIV and cancer. If medicine worked on it it might end up being cured by prayer. Which a couple terribly constructed studies have said is effective in limited areas (one of 20 factors they checked for with a 95% confidence (one should pass by random chance)).

2 comments:

Theunis said...

Man it is nice to read something interesting.

"The professor was almost daring her". Well they wont find any evidence because isn't there a saying that doctors bury their mistakes.

Now a days Profiteering is almost the same as racketeering.
Not so long ago a little pill cost about 10c in Northern Africa. In Southern Africa that same pill cost 300 times more.

Tatarize said...

The article linked is pretty clear. Serbian last names means about a 3x chance you were fine all along and the surgery was unneeded.