“Big Pharma” fails to convince TGA of product efficacy

In April last year, pharmaceutical company Key-Sun Laboratories were unable to substantiate claims they had made in an advertisement for a cold & flu product to the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Complains Resolution Panel, Australia’s consumer protection watchdog for therapeutic goods.

The product, “Oscilococinum” is a manufactured by Boiron – who themselves were the target of a million-dollar class-action lawsuit for the same product, which they settled for $5 million dollars.

The findings by the TGACRP outlined in this document noted that Key-Sun, the advertiser, presented two studies to the TGA in an attempt to demonstrate the product was effective in relieving “fever, chills, body aches, and pains” as part of a cold or flu.

The findings include:

The Panel was satisfied that this evidence was not of a type, range, or quality that could support representations made in advertisements directed to consumers. The Panel also noted that the advertiser had not provided evidence that the studies provided reflected the full balance of evidence available in relation to the advertised product.

Big Pharmaceutical companies such as KeySun need reassess just why they are in the market place; this a blatant financial exploitation of the ignorant and misinformed, and their actions only reinforce the false tenants of homeopathics to those who could very well die as a result.

Unsurprisingly, many cynical advocates of homeopathy don’t consider similar products to fall under the category of “conventional” medicine, but considered an alternative to medicine.

I’m inclined to agree – Homeopathy is not medicine.

The Circle: Adam Van Langenberg on his High School Sceptic Society

It’s been six months since Adam Van Langenberg appeared on Australia’s Morning Panel Show “The Circle” talking about how he went about setting up a High School Sceptics Society!

If you missed it, here’s Adam:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9_5E6YpIpA

Work like this, IMO is the best way towards progress; teaching kids HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

Be sure to check out @ScepticSchool on Twitter for updates, and get in contact with him (@vanAdamme) if you’re a teacher or in the Education System and you’re interested doing something similar!

Kudos!

Skeptics Society: Adam Vanlangenberg’s quest to encourage critical thinking in High School students

In an Australian high school, maths teacher Adam Vanlangenberg holds a weekly lunchtime meeting, inviting students (and teachers) to discuss popular phenomena during a “Skeptics Society” class at the McKinnon Secondary College.

The class has proven to be extremely popular; In an article from the Age written by Jewel Topsfield (“Sceptical group brave enough to tackle the big issues, like the Stallone rump reading“). Adam says ”I thought if I got 30 kids I would be happy. About 100 kids turned up, which blew me away.”

All too often, skepticism is seen as a “debunking” of sorts – Adam appeared on the Australian morning television show “The Circle”, speaking with the hosts about the aims of the class and how it come to be; he has succeeded in presenting skepticism for what it is, an evidence-based search for answers.

Please watch, and share the video!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9_5E6YpIpA

Check out the blog at http://scepticschool.com/

Get Free Access to The Cochrane Library!

All residents of Australia can access The Cochrane Library for free, thanks to funding provided by the Australian Government and administered by The Department of Health and Aging.

The Cochrane Library is a collection of six databases that contain different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making, and a seventh database that provides information about groups in The Cochrane Collaboration.

http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/view/0/FreeAccess.html

FishBarrel Australia

Earlier this week Xibis, owned by Simon Perry of the “Adventures in non-sense” blog released a Browser Plug-in for Chrome that makes reporting pseudo-scientific “therapeutic” products to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority exceptionally easy.

“All development was done with the support and collaboration of my web software development company Xibis. The team have helped enormously with the technical development and have provided the server infrastructure. Xibis are specialists in building these sorts of web based productivity systems.” writes Simon.

The release was quickly picked up by The Lay Scientist and published by The Guardian: FishBarrel: New browser plugin lets you bust quacks in seconds.

For everyday consumers and the general public, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) does not require you to list out the particular legislation that an advertisement or website breaches (unless you are involved in the industry) — But, they say it helps.

Simon writes about FishBarrel: “FishBarrel also tracks all text complained about in a central database. When you turn on FishBarrel, any text complained about by other users is automatically highlighted.”

This will of course prevent you from submitting duplicate complaints to the TGA or ACCC – Awesome!

Effective, AND efficient! I love productivity!

Tonight, I mentioned some names over Twitter to see if we here in Australia could get the same thing going, knowing full well this would ultimately render Report a Rort virtually obsolete.

To my surprise, Simon responded within minutes offering to “hook it in” to FishBarrel to complain to the relevant regulatory bodies — making FishBarrel an Internationally Effective tool in combating Pseudo-science medical claims!

At this stage, only Xibis knows when this will happen – but I’m very excited about it!

Update: Simon has noted he is also incorporating American Regulators, the FTC and FDA and may pursue adding compatibility with New Zealand’s regulatory bodies too!