Happenings Feb 2013

17 February, 2013

by

Mal Vickers

Pharmai love data

I love data and so does ‘Sense About Science’, the UK based pro-science trust. Sense About Science has launched the All Trials Campaign. The campaign aims to have pharmaceutical companies release the data from all the clinical trials they conduct.

Without the release of all data, pharmaceutical companies are free to indulge in selective publishing. That is, they may only publish the clinical trials that show the most favourable results for the products they would like us to consume.

The campaign coincides with the release of Dr Ben Goldacre’s new book ‘Bad Pharma’.

Countering Antivax Anecdotes with Provax Anecdotes

The New Zealand parents of a child that contracted tetanus change their mind about the benefits of vaccination.

“Mrs Williams said they made what they thought was an informed decision not to vaccinate any of their children because of concerns over adverse reactions, but had since changed their minds.”

Mrs Williams is quoted as saying:

“It was hideous. He was spasming every three minutes. He was biting his tongue and bleeding. His arms were spasming and he was arching his back and his whole face and jaw was completely locked.”

A family in the UK came to exactly the same conclusion – that vaccination isn’t so bad, the benefits of avoiding the disease far outweigh the small risks. They were struck Read the rest of this entry »


Happenings – June 2012

15 June, 2012

by Ken Greatorex


Nuns Fight Back! In last month’s Happenings, we reported on an attempt by The Vatican to rein in America’s fifty thousand nuns. Here’s the latest. Meanwhile, Australia’s last openly pro­gressive Catholic bishop, Can­berra’s Pat Power resigned, citing the Vatican’s inability to listen, clergy sex abuse and the short­age of priests as the biggest issues facing the church.

In Australia, a supreme court judge has forced Jehova’s Witness parents to allow their four-year-old daughter to receive a blood transfusion, without which she had a life expectancy of a few weeks. Read the rest of this entry »


Happenings

18 May, 2012

by Ken Greatorex

This is a collection of odds, ends and newsy bits that have taken our attention in the last month.

  • The Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne was as big an event as predicted. There was even an appearance by both militant Christians and Muslims. HERE. For Dick Gross’s review, see HERE

    Eugenie Scott

    The GAC was big enough to have its own fringe, in fact. Our own April Skeptics Café was billed as just such an event, featuring  the delightful Eugenie Scott. It may not have represented an enormous crowd for Ms Scott – she is much in demand internationally as a speaker – but it set a record for La Notte’s Club Room. Read the rest of this entry »


TGA, Dr Ken Harvey and SensaSlim News

6 March, 2012

by Mal Vickers

 OK I admit I’ve been somewhat critical of the TGA in the past. However, in the spirit of fairness, when they do something right, I think I should say – hurrah!

As of the 29th of February, the TGA website announced:

The TGA will be making a final decision on the weight loss product, the SUPPREXXA Hunger Buster kit, after consideration of material provided by the sponsor, Chika Health Pty Ltd, in support of the claims made about the kit.

(Insert sound of clapping)

The promoter’s claims under scrutiny are that the product will:

Assist Weight Loss, Decrease Hunger, Fight Fatigue, Stimulate Fat Burn and Improve Energy

The promoters also say it should be used:

…in conjunction with a healthy, energy controlled diet and exercise program.

To me, this looks like bait and switch advertising. Potential customers are seduced by the weight loss message, however, it may be that the only way weight is lost is by putting in the hard work with the diet and exercise program. Could potential customers simply not buy the kit (thereby saving $50) and Read the rest of this entry »


Where Did the TGA Reforms Go?

29 December, 2011

by: Mal Vickers

I think everyone is aware of the problem – magnetic underlays, ear candles, homeopathy and bogus weight loss products, to name but a few examples of modern day snake oil; products that make therapeutic claims but are unsupported by evidence that they work. The government agency responsible for protecting consumers from the greed and self-interest of quack medical products, the Therapeutic Goods Agency (TGA) appears powerless to stop it.

For quite some time there have been calls for change and the government appeared to be listening. With the SensaSlim scandal, the deaths of Gloria Sam and Penelope Dingle and the astonishing 90% level of non-compliance found with a random check of the ARTG by the Auditor General, changes seemed inevitable.

What happened? Where did the expected reforms go?

The first week of December saw some strange goings-on at the TGA Read the rest of this entry »


Flogging a Dodgy Cancer “Cure”? Say What You Like, the TGA Won’t Stop You

1 September, 2011

by Dr Mick Vagg, Clinical Senior Lecturer at Deakin University School of Medicine & Pain Specialist at Barwon Health

This article has been reprinted from The Conversation website where it appeared on 1/9/2001.

If a manufacturer claimed its product was “clinically proven” and could relieve your symptoms of bloating and fatigue, would you believe it? What about if you were chronically or terminally ill and had tried almost everything else?

The latest audit of complementary therapies found as many as nine out of ten companies made misleading claims about their weight loss products, vitamins, lotions, pills and gadgets.

The release on Tuesday of the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) report on the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA)
performance as regulator of complementary medicine products makes for alarming reading. Read the rest of this entry »


Ken Harvey Taken to Court

1 June, 2011

Dr Ken Harvey is well known to Vic Skeptics and readers of this site as a tireless campaigner against the sale of unproven medicinal products. His actions leading to adverse findings against the Power Balance Wrist Band have been well documented here. Now SensaSlim Australia Pty. Ltd have labelled Dr Harvey’s complaint to the Therapeutic Goods Administration about the promotion of their slimming product as “defamatory”. Their legal action, which seeks punitive damages has also successfully stalled the complaint process.

This podcast from ABC’s The Health Report discusses the use of SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) writs and the deficiency in current legislation which permits their use against TGA complaints.

For a more comprehensive report and information about making a pledge to assist with Dr Ken Harvey’s legal expenses, please see this story on the Australian Skeptics national web site.

The audio from The Health Report featuring the interview with Dr Ken Harvey can be heard here:

[or download the MP3 file]