Enabling students to understand and analyse contemporary issues in science and technology

Weblinks for Medicines

Introduction

Patient information leaflets on medicines are available on the electronic Medicines Compendium site.
http://emc.medicines.org.uk/

Stages in the development of a new medicine

The Wellcome Trusts's excellent Big Picture series includes one on
drug development (1.5 MB) which also discusses a range of wider issues.

Experimental design of clinical trials

A course on evidence based medicine includes a nice set of explanations, with graphics, of the key terms such as double-blind or cohort study.
http://library.downstate.edu/EBM2/research.htm

The BEEP site provides information on ways of presenting and analysing data that is very relevant to drug trials. Look under how science works. http://www.beep.ac.uk/content/15.0.html

An OU course on statistics provides a useful reference source for topics such as box-and –whisker plots.
http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=1712

Evidence based medicine

Good article titled ‘How to evaluate health risks’ with check lists on how to evaluate a report of a drug trial.
http://www.stats.org/

Bandolier is the journal of evidence based medicine. It includes evaluations of many treatments presented in accessible tables and graphs. Also a source of useful information for data analysis exercises.

Information on evidence based medicine and how to make decisions about treatments from NHS direct.
http://besthealth.bmj.com/x/static/514526/decision-support.html

Behind the Headlines is part of the NHS Choices site. It gives a careful evaluation of press reports on health and medicines, comparing the press report with the original scientific paper.
http://www.nhs.uk/News/Pages/NewsIndex.aspx

Useful readable booklet on weighing up claims about cures and treatments for long-term conditions from Sense about Science
http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/267/

Regulation

Medicine and healthcare products regulatory agency, MHRA, is a site mainly for professionals. But it contains excellent information on side effects of medicines and how to report them and a good set of information and links on MMR.
http://www.mhra.gov.uk/home/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&nodeId=5

Reports of the committee National Institute for Clinical Excellence which evaluates medicines for clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness.

Alternative therapies

Every therapy has at least one site. The list below gives some of them:
Reflexology

Aromatherapy

Acupuncture

Homeopathy

Osteopathy

Chiropractic

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)

NHS Direct
provides a summary for some therapies

Evidence for the effectiveness of alternative medicine

Reviews of research into the effectiveness of most types of alternative therapy are to be found on the Bandolier site.
The Society of Homeopaths
reports on research carried out by its members.
The British Acupuncture Council
describes research into the effectiveness of acupuncture using an approach similar to that used by Bandolier but often coming to different conclusions.
The Guardian newspaper
runs regular articles on alternative medicine often by Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter.