Sunday, October 29, 2006

Variety post: evidence grading, drug marketing, abbreviations, IRBs

This week's list of interesting things...

- Biomed Central Medical Research Methodology: "A system for rating the stability and strength of medical evidence" - proposed framework for more "transparent" evidence grading

- Clinical Cases and Images: "Complete list of medical abbreviations and acronyms"

- retired docs thoughts: "Marketing strategies masquerading as Evidence Based Medicine" - discussion of commentary publised in last week's New England Journal of Medicine (PubMed record) analyzing the link between drug company funding of research and conclusions extrapolated for the resulting data (thanks, Rachel, for sending this link!)

- Corpus Callosum commentary on the same NEJM perspective piece: "Another wrinkle in the treatment guideline controversy" - considers "What happens if a corporation essentially buys an undue degree of influence in the formulation of treatment guidelines?"

- via DocuTicker, two interesting reports: "Does Health Information Matter for Modifying Consumption? A Field Experiment Measuring the Impact of Risk Information on Fish Consumption" and "Report: Research on Human Subjects: Academic Freedom and the Institutional Review Board"

- Inside Higher Ed also discusses IRBs: "Research Review Boards Faulted" - "AAUP says that IRB's are straying into areas where they are not needed, hindering professors' work."

- Orac of Respectful Insolence has a related discussion of IRBs: "Institutional review boards overreaching?"
Over the last decade or so, IRBs have made the requirements for doing any sort of clinical trial progressively more and more onerous, in some cases going far beyond what is required to guarantee human subjects protection. You may think this is a good thing, and it is--to a point. However, there comes a point when requirements pass beyond the point of ensuring patient safety and autonomy and into the realm of stifling research, or at least making it far more difficult than it already is. It is not clear to me that we have reached that point, but if things keep going the way they are going that point cannot be far off.

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