a snowy evening…

Posted on Wednesday 29 January 2014

noun: irony
  1. the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

Well, my last post provoked a response that was surprising, at least to me [an irony of pharma past…]. Ben Goldacre took it as a criticism:
I’ll continue to devote an enormous amount of unpaid time and effort, outside my normal work, at probable risk to my medical career, campaigning to fix this problem. You and your friends will no doubt continue writing weird posts like this to derail and slow things down. If historians ever do look back at the road blocks to addressing data transparency, as you suggest they will, I don’t know how they will judge either of us, or anyone else.

So rather than parse or defend my own words, I’ll just say for history that as the words of this blog attest, I’m Ben’s biggest fan, a contributer to AllTrials, and a promoter. I had read Wellcome research fellow in epidemiology on many of his articles. So, on a snowbound evening, I looked that up. Reading about Sir Henry Wellcome was interesting and I was awed that he had left his huge estate in a trust that has been such a boon to medical research. I also didn’t know that he was such an innovator in the creation of the pharmaceutical industry – tablets instead of powders, advertising, detailing doctors directly, research by pharmaceutical companies.

And so I thought it was wonderfully ironic that, probably without knowing it, Sir Henry had built in a fail-safe mechanism to monitor the industry he had a big part in founding. He created a mechanism to support scientists who were studying medicines, and one of them turned out to be Ben Goldacre – a tireless campaigner for honesty and transparency in Clinical Trials. That was to me an irony – and a good one. Those are the thoughts that were in my mind when I wrote that.

I reread my post, and I can’t read into it what Ben saw, but this post is for history if it every runs by this little blog in the hinterlands. My post was a testimony to Sir Henry whose heir, Ben Goldacre, has done so much to popularize the right cause. I don’t know if Sir Henry was as golden a guy as the web site says he was, but it doesn’t matter, his heart was in the rightest of places, and I think he would be proud of what Ben is doing. If that last post implied otherwise, I guess I’m going to have to get a writing coach…
    January 29, 2014 | 11:11 AM

    Irony indeed. Didn’t you once put up a picture of him in a Clark Kent pose (beginning to reveal Superman outfit)? Which post was that one?

    January 30, 2014 | 8:13 AM

    I’ve know a few individuals like Ben who (apparently) never lose focus or energy. I admire them, benefit from their passion and intellect, and appreciate that people like them exist. I admire people like you, too, Mickey . . . who operate from a high plain of education, knowledge and experience and do so much to get the word out to people like me who have neither education or knowledge.

    I would hazard a guess that Ben operates full-steam-ahead ALL the time. Some of us (who live in the hills of Georgia? or the swampland of north Florida) just need some down time to improve our historical perspective . . . or just to follow interesting (but perhaps non-germane) threads. I call such side-trips my R&R . . . certainly more beneficial than Netflix (though on these unnaturally cold evenings, with electric source still functioning, I do indulge in some Netflix down-time.)

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