As the media shifted into overdrive on news of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge expecting a baby – the Daily Mail devoted thirteen pages to the news this morning, and even BBC Berkshire ended up interviewing Kate’s parents local butcher about the news, the Guardian published a great top ten of stories they didn’t want to read about the pregnancy including speculation about the sex of the baby, suggestions for baby names, or an imaginative reconstruction of how Diana would take the news were she still alive.
It was quite a surprise to find out this morning that Dr Ben Goldacre had an article running in the Mail on Sunday. He is more usually found writing his column on Bad Science in the Guardian and certainly the quality of science reporting in papers like the Daily Mail has been a big subject of comment on his part, but it is indeed the same Dr Ben Goldacre writing for a tabloid!
The subject for his article is an important one, picking up themes from his latest book . In this case he is talking about Tamiflu, the drug that the UK government spent £500,000,000 on stockpiling in the wake of the bird-flu epidemic and which the manufacturers are surprisingly unwilling to publish any data on the success of. Essentially GP’s are prescribing this, and a number of other drugs on nothing more than sales patter, with no detailed evidence of whether the drug actually works. Shocking stuff…
Tamiflu is supposed to be the miracle flu drug. Patients across the UK rely on it. In medicine cupboards everywhere patients have eagerly stockpiled it, and in some winters there has even been talk of rationing.
The Government itself has spent £500?million on stockpiling the drug to keep the country from collapse in the wake of a bird-flu epidemic, since it’s supposed to reduce the risk of pneumonia and death.
And yet for all we know, Tamiflu might be no better than paracetamol: because
Roche, the company making it, still withholds vital information on the risks and benefits from researchers, doctors and patients.
See on Scoop.it – News and Current Affairs This practice was supposed to have been stamped out years ago, but the offshore sham director business is alive and well with 21,500 companies using a group of 28 nominee directors.
The start of a major investigation by The Guardian, Panorama and the Washington based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. See on www.guardian.co.uk
A great quote here from Guardian columnist Charles Arthur about where he thinks RIM, maker of the ubiquitous Blackberry is heading:
Heres what I think: RIM is heading for the breakers yard, as surely as a ship that has reached the end of its life. Within the next 18 months or so, the company is going to be broken up for its useful parts – BlackBerry Messaging, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, its customers. The gravity that is sucking it downwards is now inescapable; to switch metaphors, its a spaceship trying to get out of a black hole, but it hasnt got Scotty aboard.
I pretty much agree with his assessment, much like Nokia, RIM failed to see the threat from the Apple iPhone, and then the Google Android phones that followed it, and whilst Blackberry handsets did seem to end up as the cool handset to own for a little bit, they are now struggling to compete in a changed market, much as Nokia is doing. The difference with Nokia however is that RIM have the double whammy of the PlayBook their failed foray into the tablet market created by the launch of the Apple iPad, where quite apart from releasing an incomplete product lacking basic functionality, they also failed to understand what end users wanted. I’m quite sure elements of the Blackberry will survive, but I doubt RIM will exist in it’s current form for very much longer.
Thoughts from, and the lives of a Canadian and a Brit living in Southern England.