Professor Fabrizio Benedetti is the most famous and almost certainly also the most influential researcher investigating the physiology of placebo effects. In a recent commentary, he asks whether placebo research is fueling quackery, as quacks co-opt its results. The answer to that question is certainly yes. A better question is: How do supporters of science counter the placebo narrative promoted by quacks, in which placebos represent the “power of the mind to heal the body”?
Studies done in mice often fail to translate to humans very well. A new study shows why, in neuroscience at least, mouse studies frequently don't predict human results very well.
The ethics of pay-to-play clinical trials are a minefield. Last week the HHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP) stepped into that minefield. Are "pay-to-play" clinical trials ever ethically acceptable?
Stem cell therapies show great promise, but as yet the vast majority of that promise has not been validated in rigorous clinical trials. Unfortunately, for-profit stem cell clinics are running clinical trials that require patients to pay to be part of them ("pay-to-play"). These trials are not rigorous. Even more unfortunately, it appears that some universities are also running “pay-to-play” clinical trials that bear an uncomfortable resemblance to those run by for-profit clinics.
This week, JAMA Internal Medicine published a clinical trial purporting to find that acupuncture helps stable angina. Here's a hint: It doesn't. It's a bait-and-switch study that used "electroacupuncture" instead of acupuncture with poor blinding and lack of consideration of prior plausibility.
A recent case report of a spinal mass in a patient with spinal cord injury who received an olfactory mucosa implant shows that stem cells are not risk-free, even when done at a reputable hospital rather than at a for-profit quack stem cell clinics.
A fairly frequent topic on Science-Based Medicine is the issue of for-profit stem cell clinics selling unsupported stem cell-based treatments with little or no evidence to support them for huge amounts of money. I make no bones about it. In my estimation, every for-profit stem cell clinic is a quack clinic bilking patients with promises of the magical things they claim stem cells can do. Every. Single. One I’ve searched and searched, and I have yet to find a for-profit stem cell clinic that provides only science- and evidence-based treatments for a reasonable cost. I hope that one day I …
There is a tension inherent in the drug approval process between the desire to approve new drugs rapidly in order to treat suffering people and the need to be cautious, to make sure that new drugs are safe and effective before they are approved for sale. This weighing of the risks of too-rapid approval of drugs that doesn’t work (or doesn’t work well) and might cause harm versus the harm that can be caused by delaying approval of an effective drug that might help millions longer than necessary is complex, as is balancing the benefits of rapidly approving effective drugs …
"Dr." Anthony Pellagrino is a chiropractor who fancies himself a scientist. Unfortunately, his touting a dubious study of chiropractic for stroke shows that he doesn't know a crappy study when he sees it.
Orac encounters a study of chiropractice manipulation under anesthesia for infant torticollis. Iit takes a lot to horrify Orac any more, but subjecting infants to unnecessary anesthesia and radiation to crack their necks did it.