The Quackometer blog alerts us to a legal action pending in the U.K. that is misguided and will allow quacks to flourish, freed from standard ethical considerations and rigorous scientific testing.
Maurice Saatchi, the former advertising businessman and Tory peer, has introduced a Bill to parliament designed to encourage medical innovation. After the death of his wife from cancer, Saatchi believed that doctors were being held back from making innovations that could save lives. The “Medical Innovation” Bill is designed to encourage and protect doctors who wish to try new things in cancer treatment with the aim of speeding up the rate of discovery.
Saatchi says that current treatments are “medieval, degrading and ineffective” and that doctors are prevented from deviating from standard care for fear of medical negligence claims. Fear of litigation is a “barrier to progress”.
However, at present the Bill is deeply flawed, will remove vital protections from patients and, in my opinion, be a quacks’ charter which will allow mavericks, charlatans and the deluded to mislead and harm people at a most desperate time.
As Andy Lewis and other note, this is not how a cancer breakthrough will occur. While Saatchi feels his wife might have been helped, promises don’t equal a cure. One maverick does not hold the miracle cure. But that seems to be what this is geared for.
The document is here [PDF].
The Government should do whatever is needed to remove barriers that prevent innovation which can save and improve lives. We must create a climate where clinical pioneers have the freedom to make breakthroughs in treatment.
So regulation, sound procedure and scientific ethics be damned? I don’t believe that real innovation is stifled. I think that false hope is being given a loophole. This would benefit doctors like Stan Burzynski and those hawking other untested, potentially dangerous “treatments”. The background information mentions that clinical negligence claims are barriers to trying new treatments. Maybe for good reason.
The bill [PDF] itself allows for the doctor’s opinion. That is very much open to interpretation (many smart people have rather awful opinions). I’m not used to looking at other country’s legislation but this writeup seems particularly vague with loopholes big enough to drive a bus through. Considering the questionable supporters, it should make medical advocates cringe.
Visit Quackometer to add your name to the list of people concerned. Hurry, it needs to be done today.
So far, more than 18,000 people – including patients, doctors, researchers, scientists and charities – have responded to the consultation supporting the Bill, many confirming that they have experienced the deterrent effect that an increasingly risk-averse culture is having on responsible medical innovation.
A revised version of the bill is being drafted.