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BMJ investigations blog

Will Stahl-Timmins: A web of influence

28 Oct, 15 | by BMJ

will_Stahl-TimminsAs part of The BMJ‘s mission to make health information more available to our readers, I am employed to create infographics, often interactive, for our website (and sometimes the print journal too). Earlier this year, I worked on The BMJ‘s investigation into the sugar industry and its links to UK government advisory bodies. This development blog explains how I co-created the graphic with investigative journalist Jonathan Gornall.

The project started, as so many projects do, with several long tables of data—in this case Freedom of Information Act requests, and publicly declared conflict of interest statements from different organisations: more…

Deborah Cohen: Update on antibiotic susceptibility test discs investigation

22 Feb, 13 | by BMJ Group

Deborah Cohen Last week a BMJ investigation reported that one of the world’s leading producers of diagnostic tests has been falsely marketing one of their products. Oxoid, owned by US diagnostics giant Thermo Fisher, has been selling antimicrobial susceptibility test (AST) discs that do not always contain the advertised amount of antibiotic.

The $10bn a year company’s website claims that it is “renowned for quality, accuracy, reliability and innovation.” However, internal documents seen by the BMJ show that this reputation may not be entirely justified. more…

Deborah Cohen reports from the Parliamentary Select Committee on the regulation of implants

24 May, 12 | by BMJ

Deborah Cohen Parliamentary Select Committees are only as good as the evidence they receive. Evidence is taken in the form of written submissions, then MPs of various political persuasions gather— along with their civil servant advisers —to hear a handpicked group of people give oral presentations. But, as frequently reported in the BMJ, evidence on devices is hard to come by in Europe for a variety of reasons. more…

Carl Heneghan and Deborah Cohen on PiP breast implants: implants need rigorous and transparent assessment of the evidence in future

15 May, 12 | by BMJ Group

Deborah Cohen A Department of Health review into the Poly Implant Prothèse (PiP) breast implant scandal has found that although the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), acted appropriately and followed scientific and clinical advice, there are “areas where improvement can and should be made for the future.”

Back in March 2010 the French regulator found that the manufacturer of the PIP silicone breast implants had been using a grade of silicone filler that was not of the standard previously approved for implant use. more…

Deborah Cohen on Nestlé and the International Diabetes Federation: comfortable bedfellows?

14 May, 12 | by BMJ Group

Deborah Cohen Nestlé has just announced a three year partnership with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF)—an umbrella organisation representing national diabetes societies from around the world— as part of its contribution to the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Such diseases include cardiovascular disease, cancer respiratory illness and diabetes.  more…

Deborah Cohen 9 May 17h30: Where’s the data, DePuy?

9 May, 12 | by BMJ Group

Deborah Cohen Back in February, the BMJ reported that a whole class of implant—in this case large diameter metal-on-metal total hip replacement—was allowed to enter the global market without any clinical studies to assess their safety and effectiveness. Hundreds of thousands of patients around the world may have been exposed to toxic metal ions released from the hips and the potential risks from this that have been known and well documented for decades. more…

Deborah Cohen 8 May 15h30: BMJ/CEBM submission to select committee about medical implants regulation

8 May, 12 | by BMJ Group

Deborah Cohen Over the coming weeks, the House of Commons science and technology committee will take verbal evidence about the regulation of medical implants. The BMJ—together with the Centre of Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University—has already submitted a report based on research and investigations done over the past few years.



Specifically, the committee will look at:

  • Are current legislation and regulations on safety and efficacy of medical implants fit for purpose?
  • How effectively does the Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency (MHRA) implement the directive in the UK?
  • How could the legislation and regulations be improved?
  • How could the European Commission ensure that potential changes to the medical devices directive do not hinder the introduction of innovations in medical implants to the market.

To read the CEBM/BMJ submission, follow the link:

Medical Implant_ Science and Techonlogy Committee_Final version_for BMJ


Deborah Cohen: 27 April, 14h00, the lack of implant regulation in Europe is finally starting to bite

27 Apr, 12 | by BMJ

Deborah CohenThe reality of the lack of implant regulation in Europe is finally starting to bite.

A leaked internal FDA report “Unsafe and ineffective devices approved in the EU that were not approved in the US,” has lambasted the European system and highlighted failures in the processes.

According to the Star Tribune, the report says that the EU demands less evidence and allows private, for-profit companies to approve products for sale throughout Europe’s 27 member countries. Approvals and the evidence on which they are based are not disclosed publicly—and neither are side effects or recalls, says the newspaper. more…

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