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The BMJ Today: A good idea gone wrong?

22 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

At the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, Bill Gates highlighted a new US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) law that rewarded sponsors of drugs for tropical diseases with a voucher that entitles the bearer to a “priority review” of another new drug application. It was intended to encourage for-profit companies to invest in treating diseases that affect the poor. Seven years on, the FDA has awarded just three vouchers, and two of the three drugs were developed and registered outside the US well before the voucher system was established. Peter Doshi looks at the controversy surrounding the voucher scheme, and asks if it is a good idea gone wrong. more…

The BMJ Today: Talking shit again

21 Jul, 14 | by BMJ Group

By the end of next month rural India could have an extra 5.2m toilets as part of a pre-election pledge by Narendra Modi, now prime minister, to build “toilets first and temples later.”

Readers of The BMJ will no doubt be heartened by the Indian government’s announcement, coming seven years after sanitation topped a reader poll as the greatest “medical milestone” in the past 166 years  more…

The BMJ Today: Society and healthcare

18 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

jose_merinoRecently, The BMJ published two articles that address important areas of contact between medicine and society. One deals with the best way to deter scientific fraud, the other with potential changes to the healthcare system in Scotland if this nation becomes independent.

On 18 September, Scottish voters will decide whether Scotland will become an independent country. Everyone understands that independence would change many aspects of Scottish life, including how the healthcare system is organized and financed, the medical profession is regulated, drugs are approved, scientific research is supported, and medical education is structured. more…

The BMJ Today: Helping GPs make better decisions

17 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

tiago_villanuevaAfter being one year out of clinical practice, and working full time in medical editing at The BMJ, I decided to take some time off from work and return this week to the trenches of the healthcare system as a locum GP in my native Portugal, where I remain licensed to practice. I personally feel that it is very important for clinicians who are also professional editors to stay in active clinical practice, even if it’s only to a small extent. I think one job ends up enhancing the other. As editors, we get to easily stay up to date and at the cutting edge of knowledge, but as clinicians, contact with the often complex problems of real patients helps us to more easily identify the learning needs of doctors. more…

The BMJ Today: Laws on money and sex

16 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

kristina_fisterBeing a doctor can sometimes feel glamorous. Soon after graduating from medical school, I found myself on a high floor of a fancy hotel in downtown Chicago, waking up to the sun rising over Lake Michigan, a perfect view through a glass wall. Yes, not a window, a wall. Plush carpets, marble bathroom, you know—the works. It was beautiful, and someone else was paying for it.

It might have been at that editorial congress that I learned: disclosure is panacea. Get as many “free lunches” as you want, from whomever you want, but let people to whom it might matter know about it. more…

The BMJ Today: Explaining telomeres

15 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

georg_roegglaTelomeres are getting a lot of attention at the moment. At the 64th Nobel laureate meeting in Lindau two weeks ago, Elizabeth Blackburn (who won the 2009 Nobel prize in medicine) drew my attention to the role of telomeres in the cellular aging process. more…

The BMJ Today: Monday’s reflections on alcohol

14 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

wim_weberNothing seems more appropriate on a Monday than to think about the after effects of alcohol. We know that drinking too much is bad for health, but many have always taken comfort in the “fact” that moderate daily intake is associated with a lower cardiovascular risk. The question remains whether light to moderate drinking will actually reduce this risk. Observational studies cannot help us here, but a recent Mendelian randomisation study sheds new light on this controversy. more…

The BMJ Today: BMJ editor wins award, plus research on alcohol and heart disease

11 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

The office is abuzz today with news that The BMJ‘s editor in chief Fiona Godlee was named the Editor of the Year last night at the PPA (Professional Publishers Association) awards—known in the industry as the Oscars of the magazine world.

Earlier in the week, our reporter Gareth Iacobucci was highly commended in the Medical Journalists’ Association awards, while Jonathan Gornall was named freelance journalist of the year for his work on the government consultation into introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol.

No doubt alcohol was plentiful on both these occasions, but anyone who has been enjoying a glass or two of an evening believing that they were protecting their heart from the ravages of coronary heart disease may have to think again, thanks to new Research. more…

The BMJ Today: Coca-Cola . . . for real?

10 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

Coca-Cola tackling obesity might sound surprising, not least if we consider the close relationship the soft drinks manufacturer enjoys with the rotund Father Christmas.

But the company recently announced that it was extending its scheme to tackle obesity (piloted last year in Birmingham) to 50 parks in three English cities, committing £20m to help local councils set up activities such as running, cycling, rounders, tai chi, and bushcraft.

In her column in The BMJ this week, Margaret McCartney casts a trademark critical eye over proceedings, arguing that while the move is allowing Coca-Cola to tick the box for corporate social responsibility, the company is unduly benefitting from the advertising space its products are being afforded. more…

The BMJ Today: “Don’t worry. That’s perfectly normal.”

9 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

tom_moberlyBeing impersonated by Peter Cook must be an honour held by few doctors, aside perhaps from Cook’s Beyond the Fringe colleague Jonathan Miller, who trained as a neuropathologist. Similarly, having an Obituary in The BMJ written by an award winning novelist and historian is not an everyday occurrence.

Somewhat in contrast to these elevated celebrations, Stephen Sebag-Montefiore, who has achieved both these distinctions, was renowned for emphasising the everyday normality of most medical conditions. “He was impossible to shock and non-judgmental, usually concluding, whether to patients or his own children, ‘Don’t worry—that’s perfectly normal’,” Simon Sebag-Montefiore says in his Obituary of his father. more…

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