Wednesday, 21 March 2007

MTAS and other news

The MTAS 'independent' review panel are set to cast their positive verdict on the brilliant MTAS this week. Professors, consultants and several large bodies including ASIT are uniting against the farcial process:

Also for anyone who is amongst the thousands of junior docs shafted by the MTAS machine, then read this and get e-mailing straight away! It may help you save your career.

The BBC has been ignoring important issues and peddling drug company propaganda as news again today. Amazing how they conveniently gave minimal coverage to 12,000 doctors marching at the weekend, yet today they are happy to dedicate plenty of column inches to this story:

This 'evidence' consists of a survey carried out by a patients group but funded by Napp, a large pharmaceutical company. The initial BBC article didn't mention Napp's involvement, however after complaints they have amended the original piece:

" Thank you for your email. The research was supported by a grant from Napp, but it was carried out by the Picker Institute and the Patients Association - both respectable and reliable organisations. We have added that Napp supported the research. However, we feel the findings of the research do stand because of the involvement of the other organisations. In addition, the only mention of patches is by the man whose sister died. He had no involvement in the study so has no contact with Napp.

We hope this addresses your concerns

Kind regards

BBC News website"

The small changes to the article are not really satisfactory in my opinion. This is because there is no mention of the glaring conflict of interest involving Napp, who produce opiate patches that they obviously want to increase the demand for. They also do not mention the rather obvious flaws in this partisan survey. The elderly patients selected for interview were not selected at random at all, meaning the survey is not representative of typical nursing home patients. It appears very likely that the survey selected those elderly patients who would say exactly what Napp wanted to hear, ie they selected an unrepresentative group of the elderly who did have chronic pain issues and then asked them leading questions to get the exact answer they wanted. The 'survey' was nothing more than an exercise in gathering propaganda for Napp. It is embarassing that the BBC falls hook, line and sinker for this kind of tactic.

The BBC needs to take a long hard look at the way it covers issues like this, as it is most definitely not the first time they have been used as a vehicle for spreading other agencies' propaganda. The lack of scientific rigour and critique applied by their journalists is deeply worrying.

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