Selling Sickness 2013 – we’ve only just begun

A public petition went up on today asking for support (from anybody) for the demand to register all clinical trials for all medical treatments, past and present, and to make sure that the full methods and results are reported. Hear! Hear! We are all for that, too. Please sign on!!  Click here to sign on.

The petition is a project of several British groups – the British Medical Journal, the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, the James Lind Alliance, Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science,” and, perhaps most interesting, a young London nonprofit called “Sense about Science” I like the resources on “Sense about Science” – they’ve got free well-written well-designed downloads about medical testing, genetic modification, science basics, peer review, claims about cures, etc. The tone is a little cheeky, but the information seems very solid. The contributors are expert scientists and physicians and they offer to answer questions from the press and the public.

But back to the petition. I like petitions. They are an ancient form of protest. They are all about citizen participation in politics — including the politics of regulating medicines. The right to petition the government is protected by the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution. This petition to end secrecy about clinical trials is addressed to governments, regulators and research bodies, and aims at influencing the European Medicines Agency to take action at the European Parliament. That’s big stuff but each individual signature can make a contribution and we can all use the petition in our advocacy. Using the internet to gather signatures is a great deal easier than standing on a street corner with a clipboard, and we will see what impact it can have. I hope more medical reformers and consumer activists will make use of this powerful tactic for education, attention and reform.

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