British Science Needs Integrity Overhaul
Because of the widespread dissatisfaction by hundreds of thousands of UK citizens left suffering with symptoms of hypothyroidism by the UK endocrinology establishment, TPA has sent a link to this article to the Presidents of the Royal College of Physicians, the British Thyroid Association and to Professor Tony Weetman (senior academic in thyroid disease) asking for their comments stating whether they agree with the sentiment of this paper and if so, what will be done to rectify the situation and, in short, asking them to provide evidence that the UK endocrinology establishment is indeed properly focussed on the diagnosis and treatment of symptoms of hypothyroidism (not just primary hypothyroidism), as we have a right to expect from an honoured profession.
TPA also sent all three the following information to back up the above document:
“British scientists are fundamentally failing to deal with research misconduct, which is widespread in the country, leading experts have warned…..“There is a recognition that we have a problem,” said Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Coinciding with the meeting, a BMJ survey of 2,782 doctors and medical academics showed that 13% claimed to have first hand knowledge of “inappropriately adjusting, excluding, altering or fabricating data”…”…Research-integrity issues in the United Kingdom have long been fretted over. Last year the House of Commons science and technology select committee said that they found “the general oversight of research integrity in the UK to be unsatisfactory”. Similar concerns have been raised by others, going back more than a decade.
To date (12 May 2016) I have received no comments from the President of the BTA or from Professor Anthony Weetman, but on the 8 January, a member of the RCP Enquiry Team sent me the following:
“Dear Sheila Turner,
Thank you for your enquiry. I have copied in our external affairs team who will know if the RCP has produced an official response to the Nature article: http://www.nature.com/news/british-science-needs-integrity-overhaul-1.9803
Organisations such as the RCP who produce guidance rely on the quality of primary published research on which to base recommendations. The article raises concerns about misconduct not in the organisations who review the evidence, but in the ‘research institutions or universities’ that produce the primary medical research.
If you are aware of specific research misconduct in the organisations whose references form the basis for the latest hypothyroid guidance, please bring this to the attention of the British Thyroid Association (BTA) http://www.british-thyroid-association.org/
I am not sure which body you are referring to as ‘the UK endocrinology establishment’. The latest guidance on the treatment of hypothyroidism has been endorsed by the Association of Clinical Biochemistry, (ACB), British Thyroid Foundation, (BTF), Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and Society for Endocrinology (SFE).
The guidance states that ‘A proportion of patients on L-T4 therapy have persistent symptoms despite normal serum TSH levels. Such symptoms should be acknowledged and alternative aetiologies sought’.
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TPA responded to her 10th January 2016:
British Medical Science Needs Integrity Overhaul (Nature) – Context: RCP Guidance on Hypothyroidism
Thank you for your reply. As I described to you, the most respected science journal (Nature) has recorded concerns that British medical science is unreliable.That concern is against the background of this charity’s concern that the RCP’s guidance on Hypothyroidism lacks scientific rigour.
You state that the RCP relies on published science and that is exactly the point.
If the validity of such science is questioned on the highest scientific authority, a responsible approach requires that the RCP should examine the quality of the data on which it relies in making pronouncements on medical matters, especially on a medical matter (hypothyroidism symptoms) found wanting by consumers.
However, at least in respect of the RCPs policy statement on the diagnosis and management of Primary Hypothyroidism, we note that your reply implies that the RCP sees no need to assure the quality of the data on which it has been relying to produce such guidance.
I wanted to give you the opportunity to reconsider your statement on this matter which, as it stands, our members will find disappointing and it will not add to the stature of the RCP as seen from the perspective of members, who have been failed by the RCPs policy statement.
No further correspondence has yet been received (12 May 2016) and neither the President of the British Thyroid Association nor Professor Anthony Weetman had the courtesy to even acknowledged receipt of this question.