Kate Johnson's Medical Musings

Life through the eyes of a medical journalist

New Evidence for Blood Clots With the Pill. Will Canadian Ob/Gyn Group Revise its Guidelines on Drospirenone?

April 26, 2011

By Kate Johnson

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) has a chance to redeem itself and make good on its controversial new contraceptive guidelines.

As I wrote in my last post, the guidelines are tainted with undisclosed conflicts of interest, calling their recommendations into question.

Now, two new studies in the British Medical Journal have made the guidelines redundant – presenting the SOGC with a rare opportunity to correct its mistakes (BMJ 2011;340:d2151 and BMJ 2011;340:d2139). Continue reading

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April 27, 2011 Posted by | Contraception, Health policy, medical ethics, Medical Writing, Pharmaceutical industry, Women's Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

Can you Trust the Latest Canadian Contraceptive Guidelines? “The Bayer Facts” are Revealing in Their Omission.

April 4, 2011

By Kate Johnson

If it wasn’t for “the Bayer facts”, the new contraceptive guidelines from the Canadian Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (SOGC) would be rather underwhelming.

But stripped down they are alarmingly revealing: “an egregious example of the extreme,” according to Dr. Allan Sniderman, a McGill University cardiology professor who has called for widespread medical guideline reform. Continue reading

April 4, 2011 Posted by | health journalism, medical ethics, Medical Writing, Pharmaceutical industry, Uncategorized, Women's Health | , , , , | 3 Comments

Canadian Contraceptive Guidelines Shun Disclosure

By Kate Johnson

As published April 4, 2011 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal – full story

April 4, 2011 Posted by | health journalism, medical ethics, Medical Writing, Pharmaceutical industry, Uncategorized, Women's Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Spinning the Science: Big Pharma’s Not Alone.

By Kate Johnson – October  14, 2009

In just a few days Dr. Supachai Rerks-Ngarm, from Thailand’s Ministry of Health, and members of the U.S. Military will present their HIV vaccine study to their peers at the AIDS Vaccine conference in Paris.

It won’t be their first presentation of their findings, but they probably wish it was.

Their first presentation to the world’s media was a bit of a circus, that left many wishing the substance had matched the hype.

As a medical journalist I’ve seen my share of circus acts, and collected a whole folder of abandoned stories to show for it.

Continue reading

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Medical Writing, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Big Pharma and Medicine: Is it Unrealistic to Apply the Same Ethical Standards to Publishing Research?

By Kate Johnson – October 12, 2009

Commenting on my recent blog about medical ghostwriting, Adam Jacobs, Ph.D., emphasized his position that “most medical writing funded by the pharmaceutical industry is perfectly ethical, with no attempts made to ‘spin’ the science.”

Adam Jacobs is well-versed on the subject of ethical medical writing. He is former president of the European Medical Writers Association, set up the group’s ghostwriting taskforce in 2003, and co-authored the EMWA guidelines on the role of medical writers in peer-reviewed publications.

He may be right that medical writers do not spin the science themselves, but sometimes the science is already spun by the time it gets to them – and it’s not just pharmaceutical companies that do the spinning. As a medical journalist, I’ve seen independent researchers perform some clever manoeuvers with their data when presenting their yet-to-be published studies at scientific conferences. Continue reading

October 12, 2009 Posted by | Medical Writing | , , , | 5 Comments