Category Archives: Current events

Joanna Blythman: Please Read the Data Appendices About Organic Food Before Conjuring ‘Cancerous Conspiracies’: Part 1

Dear Daily Mail Editors: congratulations on a very dramatic headline. A cancerous conspiracy to poison your faith in organic food: that is pure genius, building nicely on the recent reprimand to ‘the authorities’ for making us Scared to death? The REAL worry is today’s culture of fear. You will understand how many readers chuckled to read that the Daily Mail, of all newspapers, is accusing others of scare-mongering. Continue reading

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Lloyds Pharmacy sell Alli (Orlistat) online

Orlistat – branded as Alli – weight loss pills are now on sale over the counter in UK pharmacies. Weight loss drugs are frequently abused, and Dr Crippen raises concerns that the pharmacist working in a bricks and mortar shop selling Alli might

not understand the realities of the drug and in any case he (or his masters) will be concentrating on the flashing pound sign

However, we were concerned to see that Lloyds Pharmacy now sells Alli pills online. While pharmacists may struggle with advising patients they meet face-to-face on Alli, selling online raises additional issues.

Would-be purchasers from Lloyds do have to complete an online questionnaire, asking them to give details such as weight and age and confirm statements such as

I am ready to adopt a reduced calorie, lower-fat diet

Unfortunately, although the questionnaires are checked by a pharmacist before the pills are posted out, people sometimes lie on such questionnaires. If someone wants – for example – to use Alli for weight loss despite a low Body Mass Index, they could easily lie about their weight. If a would-be purchaser fails to confirm tick boxes to agree with statements such as that they are willing to follow a lower-fat diet, Lloyds’ website helpfully reminds them that they must check the appropriate box in order to buy the product. Continue reading

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Comment Is Free But Facts Are Sacred Makes A Correction

Sunday, March 14, 2009 published a CiF article by Kent Miller: The real agony of autism. It contained a common error about the MMR vaccine and mercury (UK thiomersal, US thimerosal):

A special US court overseeing a vaccination-liability fund recently ruled that the parents of an autistic girl, Michelle Cedillo, won’t get any money from it. The judge put a pretty firm kibosh on the argument that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine – or its mercury preservative, thimerosal – had caused Michelle’s disability.

Now, we have been round this topic with both the Guardian and The Observer on previous occasions. Continue reading

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Daily Express, Better You, The Leadership Factor and Laura Clout: the Yes Minister approach to market research

We were shocked to see a Sunday Express story by Laura Clout, stating that:

Research by natural health firm BetterYou [which sells nutritional supplements] found that more than eight in ten of us do not eat fruit and vegetables in our daily diet.

These is a really striking figure, so we asked BetterYou for the research behind it. They, and their PR agency Lucre Communications, were very helpful with our questions: the research was carried out online by The Leadership Factor, with a total sample of 1,000 adults. However, we found a number of issues with this research. As you’ll see in the above Yes Minister clip, there is a noble British tradition of surveys which reliably give certain answers and – while this may be entirely accidental – The Leadership Factor and BetterYou appear to have followed this great tradition. Continue reading

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Credit Card Exceeded Card Limit Scam: 0800 03 11 03

There is a credit card scam making the rounds. Targets ostensibly receive a letter from their credit card company that informs them that they have gone over their credit limit and that further transactions are suspended until the over-payment is paid and that must be done immediately.

The target is invited to contact the credit card company on 0800 03 11 03 (their spacing, 0800 031103) to discuss any queries and make the payment.

If you call the number, you will be asked for a Switch or Delta card number to make this payment. Continue reading

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