It’s a good day for medical technology, as the papers report breathlessly on the rise of the ‘smart pill’ (Daily Mail) or ‘edible microchip’ (Independent). When the sensor, the size of a grain of rice, is swallowed it reacts with stomach fluids to emit a signal that can be picked up by a smart phone. The idea is to remind patients to take their next dose – though whether a phone’s orders are any more effective than doctor’s orders remains to be seen.
The Times has a more sobering take on the pharmaceutical industry (behind paywall). It reports that Cochrane, the non-profit group that investigates medical evidence, is set to release a review on Tamiflu that raises questions about the drug’s effectiveness. Researchers there have already complained that their attempt to research the drug was blocked by its manufacturer, Roche.
That is not the end of today’s wrangling over medical evidence. South African scientists have described the British Million Women Study, whose findings led to breast cancer patients abandoning Hormone Replacement Therapy, as biased, defective and unreliable. The leader of the Million Women study, Professor Dame Valerie Beral who was quick to hit back, suggesting that her critics were unduly influenced by their connections to HRT manufacturers.
Some hacks will do anything for a story – for one Independent journalist this meant a crash course in experiencing dementia. The effect was achieved with the help of distorting glasses, headphones playing confusing sounds, popcorn kernels in the shoes and, most importantly, uncaring carers.
But it seems that the fear of terminal illness can still sometimes take second place to other instincts. ‘Should you put your sex life before beating cancer?’asks the Mail, discussing the effect of impotence, a side-effect of treatment for prostate cancer.