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"Follow the money," Deep Throat warned Woodward and Bernstein as the two reporters were about to break open the Watergate scandal. Generally, this is good advice for anyone seeking to understand what is happening in a complicated business story. But not always. Former New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) editor-in-chief Jerome Kassirer would have us believe that contemporary medical scientific research is so riddled with financial conflicts of interests as to be all but worthless. His assessment of the current National Institutes of Health (NIH) cholesterol guidelines, which appeared in a Washington Post op-ed, "Why Should We Swallow What These Studies Say?" (Aug. 1), and is amplified in a new book bashing the pharmaceutical industry, On the Take: How...

This article appeared in the Washington Legal Foundation's March 10, 2006 Legal Opinion Letter (Vol. 16, No. 7).

A recent article in the Baltimore Sun expressed overtly what some have been contemplating in smaller policy and academic circles: the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not devoting enough attention to our spiritual needs, concentrating as it does on purely scientific issues of drug safety and efficacy (Jonathan D. Rockoff, Critics weigh in on FDA decisions, Baltimore Sun, Jan. 9, 2006, at 1A). The article refers to unnamed critics who believe that the FDA should be taking non-science-based factors into its approval equation when deciding the worth...

This article appeared on Spiked-Online.com.

The largest study yet of workers who participated in the rescue efforts and clean-up at the site of the World Trade Center attack has been reported as evidence that a spectrum of mysterious health problems were caused by the fumes from the disaster. In a sense that's true, in that we don t know the precise nature and cause of all the respiratory ailments reported five years later by participants in the study. But that is partly a function of the study s strangeness rather than the fumes' strangeness.

Just as the media and politicians should take care not to heighten terrorism s impact by exaggerating the risk it poses to the...

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and was signed into law June 22, 2016. It created a mandatory requirement for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines, to do so in a transparent fashion, and to do so using risk-based chemical assessments rather than rely on simple epidemiological correlations. 

EPA selected the first 10 chemicals to undergo risk evaluation under the amended TSCA and to make those understandable for the public, the American Council on Science and Health is producing risk-based evaluations of each, which will then be compiled into a free downloadable book...

satanI've been writing about viruses quite a bit lately (for obvious reasons), so it is only fitting that this week, people in my office all of a sudden started coming down with one. And a nasty one at that. What was it? Let's just let the incomparable Walt "Clyde" Frazier (1) answer:

lyde

He and I are talking about norovirus Satan's personal favorite biohazard.

First of all, you can take most of the medical advice about ways to avoid catching...

There was much excitement on Twitter after it was announced that Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Jill Stein answered the questions posed by Science Debate 2016. (Gary Johnson has yet to respond.) But how seriously should we take their answers?

Perhaps more so than in any election in recent memory, the two mainstream candidates have shown a shocking willingness to abandon the truth at a moment's notice. Answers to simple questions change, sometimes in the matter of hours or even minutes, as if the candidates neither realized nor cared that video cameras and instant replay can expose their duplicitousness. The problem has become so acute that, in a...

Carrie Fisher’s tragic death after last week’s inflight medical emergency is sadly an all too familiar occurrence.  In fact, upticks of cardiac-related deaths on Christmas and New Year’s, in particular, are well-documented. 

This is often referred to as the “holiday effect” with the ‘why’ being unknown and most elusive, but speculated to range from any or a combination of the following:  abrupt behavioral changes albeit dietary, alcohol, exercise, work or vacation-induced, stress secondary to travel itself or familial discord or preparations, financial issues, capacity for displacement of death, delayed access to medical care due to remote locations, being en...

Last January I wrote an article called "Kratom: The Supplement That Will Kill Godzilla," using hyperbole to point out that the supplement/drug (combination of drugs, really) was not a benign substance, nor a simple, risk-free herb. The increase in poison control center calls (see graph at bottom) was not without reason .

I used the table below to indicate some of the receptors that components of the drug were known to interact with. The key point was to demonstrate that mitragynine, the principal alkaloid (1) in kratom, which we call a "dirty drug"—one that acts at multiple receptors—is a psychotropic cocktail, which, like any other drug that alters brain function,...

In science and medicine, much of the time there is no "right" answer. Different doctors will have different approaches to a given condition, a drug that may be great for one person may make another ill, and two surgeons—even in the same specialty—may have different opinions about what kind of surgery needs to be done, if any. Because of the differences in their training and experience, physicians will have a different interpretation of the risk and benefit of a therapy or procedure.

This type of uncertainty is one of the things that makes science and medicine fascinating, but also makes them overwhelming and confusing, even to the most knowledgeable laypeople. Few people have the ability to make an informed decision about what is best for them, so they turn to someone they trust...

News outlets really hit gold with this one. Except, it was fool's gold. 

"Antidepressants linked to premature death risk"

"Warning for those on antidepressants: The commonly prescribed drugs raise the risk of an early death by 33%, controversial study finds"

"Antidepressants associated with significantly elevated risk of death, researchers find"

"Antidepressants up risk of death by 33 percent, says study"

But the researchers hit something else: rock bottom. And, in a world full of seriously crappy epidemiological studies, that's quite an enviable accomplishment. Yet,...