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BackPage Online, December 2018

doi: 10.1097/01.BACK.0000550235.50512.81
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Controversial Publicity Campaign in Favor of Kyphoplasty for Osteoporotic Vertebral Fractures

A recent publicity campaign to promote kyphoplasty as a treatment for painful vertebral fractures has drawn major criticism in an article by Michael Joyce at the prominent journalism website HealthNewsReview.org. Recent systematic reviews have provided high-quality evidence that vertebroplasty—the simple injection of cement to stabilize painful vertebral fractures—is not safe and effective. But what about kyphoplasty, a form of vertebroplasty that involves the restoration of vertebral height via balloon tamp followed by a cementing procedure? Its developer Medtronic—along with two patient groups—suggest that kyphoplasty is safe and effective, sometimes miraculously so. But the scientific evidence doesn't provide strong support. There are no clinical trials demonstrating that kyphoplasty is superior to a placebo procedure.

Here is the link to the full article: https://www.healthnewsreview.org/2018/10/osteoporosis-and-vertebral-compression-fractures-advocacy-groups-and-medical-device-maker-spin-misleading-message/

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Medical Schools Often Don't Teach Doctors How to Apologize—a Vital Skill in a World Full of Medical Errors

Modern medicine hasn't made much progress in the reduction or elimination of medical errors. They are still common. They can radically disrupt lives. They can lead to costly litigation. And they require sophisticated communication skills so that they do not disrupt effective medical care and therapeutic relationships.

Here is a link to an article in the New York Times on the subtleties of apologizing for medical errors: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/04/well/live/doctors-errors-apologies.html

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Who Controls Industry-Funded Trials on Drugs, Devices, and New Technologies?

A recent article at the website of the Lown Institute tackled the difficult topic of “Who controls industry-funded trials?” It was based on a study of real-world studies in BMJ. “What does “collaboration” in medical research mean exactly? Most clinical drug trials today are collaborations between industry funders and academic researchers, but it's not clear how much control these funders have over the study design, analysis, and reporting. While researchers acknowledge that industry funding is a valuable resource, some are concerned that collaborating with industry may sacrifice academic freedom and lower the quality of research,” explained the authors of the Lown article.

Here is a link to the article at the website of the Lown Institute: https://lowninstitute.org/news/blog/who-controls-the-design-and-analysis-of-industry-funded-trials/

And here is a link to the BMJ article it references: https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k3654

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