Health

Drugs

Morgan Hill's picture

Since the dawn of human existence we have been putting things into our bodies to see what they do, then repeating be cause we either liked, got addicted, or simply wanted a bigger sample size (yay science). Drugs aren’t even a human phenomenon, cats like catnip, and other animals have been chewing mildly hallucinogenic leaves for millennia. Somewhere in the trail of human history we developed the artificial idea of an acceptable drug, as science developed we were able to categorise them, and more recently the state has taken an interest in substance consumption.

I’m not by any means arguing that many drugs, used in many ways, aren’t harmful to health and society. My core position in that there will never be zero harm as a result of drugs, instead of targeting impractical zero drug futures, it would be more pragmatic, compassionate and successful to think about ways in which we can reduce the harm of drugs. We must recognise the complexity of a human diaspora. No single factor solely relates to the harm caused by drugs. There are no magic theories, that cover the individual and a massive population with equal accuracy, only suggestions that something might help.

NHS - Calling for a minor change in Policy..

When it comes to policy on the NHS, I am proud to be a member of the Pirate Party; we have been clear about our commitment to the NHS, and clear what we think could be done to make it better. 
I should be clear; the party has said that it wants to bring outsourced services back into the NHS:

"We all trust the NHS with our lives. In return for that trust, the NHS should ensure that it is using the funds apportioned to it as effectively as possible, even when an effective service isn't the cheapest option."

"All the skills to deliver healthcare from start to finish, from cleaning to surgery and from transport to transplants, should be available within the NHS."

George Walkden : Clinical trials and tribulations: a role for Europe

It’s hard to imagine a better fairy-tale villain than a big pharma company. There’s something undeniably sinister about these vast, faceless titans with their unfathomable methods and international reach; so much so that it’s sometimes an effort to remember that, actually, they’re the ones who develop and mass-produce the drugs we use to stay alive. For that we owe them thanks – but let’s not get sentimental about it. These companies are still companies, and they have their own agendas and priorities, which often end up in conflict with those of the average mortal.

One instance of this conflict is the pharma companies’ vice-like grip, via patents, on the production of newly-developed drugs. This can put heavy financial pressure on health services, particularly in developing countries. Another conflict, which is the focus of this article, involves the publication of clinical trial data. Clinical trials are carried out on a massive scale as part of the process of bringing a new drug onto the market: the trials are meant to determine whether the drug is effective and safe, and whether patients would benefit from being prescribed it.

The problem, as Ben Goldacre clearly demonstrates in his excellent book Bad Pharma, is that the decision whether or not to publish the results of a given trial is determined by factors that are anything but scientific. Most worryingly, there is a strong bias towards publishing only positive results: if a trial’s results are negative, or inconclusive, there is a much higher likelihood that they will be stuffed into someone’s desk drawer and never see the light of day. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to industry-sponsored studies, but it certainly seems to be much worse there: a 2006 review found that 78% of industry-sponsored studies showed positive results for the drug in question, while only 48% of independently-funded studies came up with a favourable outcome. Hardly surprising given that pharma companies stand to gain from presenting their drug in the best possible light, but deeply worrying.

TTIP - Trading away our rights

The Issue.

The US/EU Free Trade agreement (which is also known as The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)) will be the biggest free trade agreement ever, if it is signed.

Care Data

There is nothing more important than your health and knowing you can talk to a doctor or nurse in confidence. Now this government has put that at risk.  Your doctor will soon have to constantly supply your personal medical data to a central information centre, the "Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC)". And these data can be given to organisations outside the NHS. 

Opinion: NHS "care.data": You Are Not a Patient, You Are a Commodity

Editor's picture

Danfox Davies – PPUK Contributor, Student, Hackerspace Leader

Well, what do you know. The government saw fit to send us a message about the NHS and all the wonderful things they are doing for us with it. The Guardian tells us a bit about it here.

I suppose we should be happy. A comprehensive database will help medical researchers stop epidemics before they start. It will help identify side-effects of drugs that didn't show up in testing... Brilliant, that's joined-up thinking, we should praise the technological awakening of our state healthcare system – the time it saves could even be enough to start reversing the fortunes of some of the hospitals the health secretary seems so eager to close. Big Data, it seems at a glance, may just have saved our NHS. Not that we should be proud of it. No, in fact the government seems to have done its level best to ensure we don't even notice the change has happened, whilst still just about claiming they are fulfilling their legal obligations to inform of these changes to our health service.

Inside Default Web Blocking - Part 2

Pro-Ana Content

Last year one of the many nasties due to be blocked was websites which encourage people to develop eating disorders, aka 'Pro-Anorexic' content. The content doesn't appear to be blocked under any of the various filters, suggesting that the ISPs may have realised the problems in this area - namely that an unrealistically proportioned, air-brushed model on a mainstream fashion publication can unfortunately be as self-image damaging as any 'legitimate' weight loss tips.

With the situation as it stands today, in this issue, at least, ISPs seem to have decided that mental health in the UK is an issue more complex than one which can be addressed by attempting to block websites.

Sex Education

BT's (fully optional in this case) filter has already come under heavy criticism for blocking 'gay and lesbian lifestyle' content, before back-peddling to sex education only.

BT's filter whilst claiming 'not [to] discriminate between heterosexual and LGBT content' clearly blocks sites such as gaytimes.co.uk (but not pinknews.co.uk) and does in fact effectively block a range of sex education sites such as the sexual health charity http://www.fpa.org.uk and http://www.contraceptioneducation.co.uk

As this is (for now, at least) a fully opt-in category, the potential for wider damage is fortunately limited.

Opinion: What you dont see you dont care, but you should

Editor's picture

Mark Ford - Technology Blogger

In the following, references to “software” also means “firmware” or similar.

From heart pumps to self-driving cars, the robots have long arrived. Behind every movable part lays a monster; the infinite possibilities of software. Each application built upon thousands of lines of computer code. Built layer by layer, an ever growing stack of reusable objects. And like a tower of cards or a hairline crack, unchecked problems can quickly lead to complete structural collapse.

Computer hackers understand those building blocks and they seek out those hairline cracks. It may take longer, but even without the blueprints - the source code - the weaknesses may still be found and exploited. The dangers to human life from accidental or malicious intent are well recorded. And history demonstrates, security through obscurity buys little or no time.

Pages

More Information

Chat with us

   

Upcoming Dates

Social Media

Twitter icon Facebook icon RSS icon YouTube icon

Current Internal Elections

We are not currently running any internal elections but to see what positions are open for nominations, check here.