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Would you give your child medicines whose benefits and side effects aren't fully understood?

Monday, 4 February 2013  |  Admin

I'll start by saying that I've just signed the petition at which aims to get all clinical trial results published and I think everyone should.My husband reckons I'm on my high horse about this and maybe I am, but I think that like any parent, if my children were ill, I would want the best treatment for them and as things currently stand we wouldn't know if that was the case or not. Hence why I'm sharing this blog post today.To be honest, I've been very lucky and none of my children have had to have any medicine stronger than paracetamol or ibuprofen...maybe two courses of antibiotics between them all.However if you, your child, your partner or your parent had to have medicine you'd want that medicine to be the best available for their illness wouldn't you? I've recently been reading Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre from Bad Science and was dismayed to find out that Doctors quite often are missing key information about drugs, which only have to prove that they are better than a sugar pill to get approved!As things currently stand, Doctors are prescribing medicines based on the data that they have available which in many cases is inaccurate. Without getting into too much detail (but if you want the detail it's HERE) when research on drugs is carried out in many cases the trials where the results are unfavourable don't get published. So for example if a trial stops early because patients drop out because of side effects, the researcher might decide (or be asked) not to publish it.That means when a systematic review is carried out across all the trials in existence for a drug, the results can be biased towards a preferable result. It's a bit like playing Snakes and Ladders with your child and they just keep throwing the dice until they get a six as they like sixes!Things are improving now with more trials being registered, however for many of the drugs being prescribed today, the trials were done 15 or 20 years ago and lots of trial data is missing. They estimate that about half of all trials go unpublished which is shameful.Transparency in results would avoid poor treatment decisions and would develop opportunities for new medicines. It would also save the NHS money which could then be used on all sorts of other things.Please don't just take my word for it. There are many, many people who know a whole lot more about this behind it, including the British Medical Journal, Medical Research Council, the Cochrane Collaboration, the Royal Statistical Society and many more. If you care about your family's health, then go and find out more and sign the petition at

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