Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hey there skeptifans. Here are the Fails and Wins you sent me this week.

Now you can be a card carrying skeptic.



Cutbacks Hurt a State’s Response to Whooping Cough

Washington state has been feeling the effects of a pertussis outbreak, and cutbacks to the healthcare system have not helped. Thanks to Anna for this link. We’ve also seen an outbreak north of the border in BC. You can do your part to stop the spread by getting a booster shot.

U.S. regulator issues alert on dangers of controversial MS treatment

Thanks to Lorne for this link. “Liberation Therapy” has been a unfortunate case for the importance of proper medical trials. Medical trials are not simply a series of bureaucratic hoops to jump through. The processes that exist to prove the effectiveness of a treatment are there to save lives and prevent harm. Unfortunately many places allow people to freely seek this experimental and dangerous MS treatment, despite the lack of solid evidence for it. The FDA has now released a strong warning about the dangers of this treatment, which include stroke risk and death. Meanwhile in Canada, no such official warning has been issued and we have politicians still pushing for trials to be conducted here.

South Korea finds smuggled drug capsules from China containing flesh from dead babies

John sent in this link. Just when you thought alternative medicine couldn’t get weirder, this macabre story hit the news. Korean customs officials have stopped a shipment of capsules made from dead babies. The capsules are thought to cure disease, but actually contain dangerous bacteria and harmful ingredients. The capsules came from northern China, but it is not known how the primary ingredient was obtained. Horrifying stuff.

Did you spot a media Fail or Win? Send it to me at links@skepticnorth.com.

2 Responses to “Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week”

  1. Bryan says:

    The FDA has now released a strong warning about the dangers of this treatment, which include stroke risk and death. Meanwhile in Canada, no such official warning has been issued and we have politicians still pushing for trials to be conducted here.

    It is worth pointing out that the FDA’s warning is in specific reference to seeking treatment outside of an approved trial, for the reason that the treatment is not proven, and the procedure itself has known (and potentially serious) risks.

    The continuing interest in trials by misc Canadian govs aims, essentially, to resolve the issue ID’d by the FDA – by going through proper trials we can determine if “liberation therapy” works, and if its benefits outweigh its dangers. This is *exactly* what needs to happen. I’m more concerned that various govs are trying to dictate this, instead of relying on conventional routes to setting up trials, but the FDA warning did not refer to proper trials, nor is it a basis to not proceed with proper trials.

    Bryan

  2. Bryan says:

    Forgot to add, you’ve got your history backwards.

    Here in Canada we’ve had several warnings, widely published in the media, informing patients to not seek liberation therapy outside of approved trials. Indeed, the CIHR had a blanket ban on the trials of the procedure that lasted until until mid-summer last year, when it was judged that there was sufficient evidence to justify Canadian trials. The FDA is late to the party, although their warning is aimed more at MD’s preforming the treatment outside of approved trials than it is at patients.

    Bryan

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    Melany proudly uses the titles of both geek and nerd. As a science-enthusiast and fan of debate, Melany likes to get her facts straight. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Since then her career path has meandered to its current spot as a project manager at a video game studio. Melany lives near beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. She is not seeking treatment for her caffeine addiction.