Episode #165

News Items

    Question #1 – Big Pharma

    • Dear Skeptics I’ve been listening to your show for a year now and have been caught up on all the episodes for quite a while. I’d like to tell you that I had been in Europe teaching English when I found your podcast, and it was truly a highlight of my week when the new episode came out. Living abroad was fascinating in many ways, but it was at times equally stressful. Your podcast (along with Car Talk) really made me feel at home. Also, Americans are generally regarded as stupid and ignorant among Europeans, so keep fighting that stereotype so effectively. My question is regarding ‘Big Pharma’ and specifically fibromyalgia. I was discussing the pharmaceutical industry with a friend who claimed that diseases are being ‘made up’ by drug companies for the sole purpose of creating a market for their medicines. He mentioned fibromyalgia as a perfect example, claiming it to be a disease that anyone can convince themselves they have. This sounded like what Dr. Novella describes as symptoms of life (I think that’s phrase he uses). I wasn’t very familiar with the malady at the time to argue, but I tend to defend the pharmaceutical industry when faced with what sounds like a conspiracy theory. In my subsequent research, I found that there is some debate on it, but that the disease is generally accepted by the medical community as being ‘real’. Anyway, I’d like to ask specifically about Fibromyalgia and more broadly about the pharmaceutical industry. On a recent podcast (either Skeptic’s Guide or 5×5) Rebecca mentioned real problems with the pharmaceutical industry being obfuscated by the ridiculous claims of suppressed cures to cancer and the like. So I would like to hear your thoughts on where you think the line is between legitimate concerns about the Big Pharma, and conspiracy theories. We often hear about doctors’ overprescribing habits, especially for diseases like ADD and ADHD, as well as stories doctors going on vacations sponsored by drug companies or receiving bonuses for prescriptions of a drug. I think this is an important issue, so I would appreciate your help in separating fact from fiction. Thanks guys (a gender neutral word in the Czech Republic) for all your hard work in putting together the best podcast in the world, and probably the universe. Nick Vockrodt Arlington, VA

    Science or Fiction

    • Item #1 Science

      Astrophysicists have discovered the upper limit for the mass of a black hole.

    • Item #2 Science

      New research suggests that the rise of the dinosaurs over their contemporaries was due to luck, and not any inherent competitive edge.

    • Item #3 Fiction

      New study in humans demonstrated improved strength and performance following transplantation of muscle stem cells.

    Skeptical Quote of the Week.

    ‘When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities’ - David Hume