New drugs require effort, investment and risk. But thanks to the weakness of governments, in the face of the lobbying from Big Pharma, we now have a regulatory system that rewards slick marketing over true innovation. We know these marketing strategies work, because a $600 billion industry wouldn’t spend tens of billions on them if they didn’t. It’s also clear that marketing has better returns than research, because the drugs industry spends more on marketing than on R&D.

…and these confused priorities are one of the reasons we haven’t yet found an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, says Bad Science author Ben Goldacre

Department of Health figures show that the number of reported patient safety incidents in the English NHS that resulted in death or severe harm rose by a quarter to 10,102 last year. That’s equivalent to a jumbo jet-load every fortnight. A former mandarin recently told me that in the nuclear industry the error rate is 1 in 100,000 and in air transport 1 in 10,000. In healthcare it is 1 in 10. How we can tolerate such standards?

The new Health Secretary must push to open up NHS data on clinical outcomes says Nick Seddon, deputy director of Reform, the independent think-tank

The countries that allow assisted dying are careful democracies, just like us. It’s not a free for all. There are rules, rules everywhere. Some time ago I set out to track down every rumour of assisted dying abuse on the planet and when electronically cornered, people making allegations of abuse lamely said that it was on the internet. I think everything on the internet is true, don’t you?

Unfortunately, those irrevocably against assisted dying will continue to muddy the waters and so there will continue to be more tragedies like that of Tony Nicklinson and more people trailing off to Dignitas to the embarrassment of the Swiss and the shame of Britain.

Discworld author Terry Pratchett, a long-time campaigner for assisted dying, writes for The Times today

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, attacked the NHS this week for “distorting democracy”. Ryan’s argument was that “free healthcare” creates pressure for ever more public spending from patients who overuse it. That is undeniable, but the last thing we need, especially in our state of post-Olympic euphoria, is to be lectured by Americans about healthcare. Surely a free universal service is the ultimate expression of the democratic ideal? The answer is not to leave the poor bleeding at a door marked “private insurance”. It is to inject more democracy into the NHS by running it for patients rather than “stakeholders”.

Camilla Cavendish visits the first NHS hospital to be run by a private company - and she’s impressed

Times Opinion today | Cowboy bankers, stupid weather, Eurosceptics & in vitro fertilisation

Cowboy bankers

“We must stop buying the lie that because there is no gun in the boardroom, the occupants must be innocent,” says financial editor Patrick Hosking of the Barclays Libor rigging scandal

Before any public inquiry into Libor rigging is convened, criminal proceedings must be opened, The Times says

Stupid weather

The Met Office predicted that April-May-June would be dry. It was actually the wettest on record in England. Is this down to climate change? asks Matt Ridley

Getting out of Europe

“Smelling victory, the whole Eurosceptic movement is sensing vindication; but it is quite unprepared for its moment in the sun,” says Tim Montgomerie, who puts forward a campaigning “genius” to lead the Eurosceptic cause


In France, it’s now compulsory to carry two breathalysers in your car (as it will be as a tourist visiting France). Agnès Poirier thinks this is all about psychology


Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s new President, must remember that he is responsible to all Egyptians, not just Muslim Brotherhood voters, says Alaa al-Aswany

It would be “absurd” to deliberately exclude the voice of chief constables in the elections for police commissioners, The Times says

The Times speaks in praise of in vitro fertilisation after the five millionth IVF baby is born

(Times Opinion, Monday July 2, 2012)

Magazine Rack | paedophilia crusade, Anonymous, placebos & LinkedIn’s strategy

Ariel Sabar on why John Wojnowski has stood outside the Vatican embassy nearly every day for 14 years, on Washingtonian

Quinn Norton on how Anonymous picks targets, in Wired

George Anders on LinkedIn’s strategy, in Forbes

On Discover Magazine, Howard Brody asks when it’s ethical for doctors to take advantage of the placebo effect

Compiled by @TomasRuta

Adrian Owen has found a way to communicate with people in a vegetative state. David Cyranoski reports in Nature

On his BBC blog, documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis tells the story of Jack Idema, a pet hotel owner who reinvented himself as a black-ops secret agent in Afghanistan

Alessandra Galloni on how grandparents in southern Europe are helping young people make ends meet, in The Wall Street Journal

In The Guardian Decca Aitkenhead talks to Mark Shields, the British officer who changed policing in Jamaica

Compiled by @TomasRuta

Healthcare is rationed and articulate, demanding patients get the best of it

On Saturday, Matthew Parris accused GPs of being “glorified gatekeepers” who are paid more than airline pilots. Readers (including a good few GPs, we suspect) took to the comment board en masse to chew over his column. Robin Thomas supplied this tip.

Leaders and Thunderer | The Times, June 16, 2012

Columns - Saturday June 16, 2012

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