PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The 'Motherisk' fiasco gets worse and worse - and that's too bad because women could benefit from a program which provides positive, accurate health information to prospective mothers, free of influence by drug companies. As The Star reports today: "The Motherisk program came under fire in late 2014 after the Star exposed concerns about the reliability of its drug and alcohol hair tests, which were used in thousands of child protection cases and were often accepted without question as proof of parental substance abuse. Sick Kids shuttered the lab and issued a public apology in 2015 for “unacceptable” practices after completing an internal probe. But the hospital has continued to house Motherisk and support its other functions, which include popular helplines for expectant and lactating women and their doctors. The call centre responds to 30,000 calls per year, according to 2015 statistics on Motherisk’s website, which describes the advice it provides as “scientific” and “evidence-based.” Today's story challenges the Hospital's claim that the advice it gives is "scientific" and "evidenced-based." All we get from the hospital are "alternative" truths, meant to make us believe that all's fine, some changes have been made in the system, now let us get on with our fund-raising and important work. (Oooops. I'm getting a tad cynical. HL). But I still can't get out of my mind the specter of innocent parents who were betrayed by this hospital's supposed gold standard of drug tests, face criminal charges, and may lose their children forever. Where is the accountability. This hospital has a board of directors supposedly at the helm. Too much has happened on their watch. If it was any other hospital - and not the 'world class' Sick Kids - the Ontario government would have turfed out the Board, and taken control. That should have been the case. This is the Hospital that failed too learn the lessons from the Charles Smith disaster that occurred on its watch as well. Today's Star story represents one more straw in the Hospital's troubled history. (Remember Steven Yuz? Remember Susan Nelles? Remember Nancy Olivieri? Remember Lisa Shore" Remember Sanchia Bulgin). It does not deserve the public trust.
Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.
STORY: "Medical journal withdraws recommendation of morning sickness pill," by Jesse McLean, David Bruser, and Rachel Mendleson, published by The Toronto Star on January 26, 2017.
SUB-HEADING: "Canadian Family Physician journal no longer recommends Diclectin as the go-to treatment, renouncing guidelines by embattled Motherisk."
PHOTO CAPTION: "Toronto Dr. Nav Persaud's research has exposed flaws in the evidence supporting the efficacy of the popular morning sickness drug Diclectin."
GIST: "Canadian family doctors have been told to reconsider Diclectin as the go-to drug treatment for morning sickness after new research raised concerns about whether the medication is any better than a commonly available vitamin. In a strongly worded commentary, the Canadian Family Physician medical journal said it no longer recommends the popular medication as the first-line treatment, citing the work of a Toronto doctor whose research has exposed flaws in the evidence supporting Diclectin’s efficacy. The commentary is a renouncement of the journal’s previous publication of clinical guidelines advocating the drug’s use, which the journal says were developed by Sick Kids’ embattled Motherisk program, which had financial ties to the drug company that makes Diclectin. The medical journal said it ended its longstanding relationship with Motherisk in part because of concerns about its independence from the drug company — yet another black eye for the once-prestigious program engulfed in scandal for faulty hair testing for drugs and alcohol in its now-shuttered lab. “Evidence is not static; re-evaluation of accepted truths should not be seen as a weakness as new information comes forward,” the authors, who include the journal’s scientific editor and the chair of the editorial advisory board, wrote in the January edition. The authors said the past guidelines’ recommendation of Diclectin as the go-to drug treatment “is not supported by the current best evidence.” The commentary also said Toronto doctor Nav Persaud’s recent “systematic re-evaluation of the evidence” revealed that the combination of doxylamine and vitamin B6 is “not superior in efficacy” to vitamin B6 alone. The commentary is part mea culpa as the authors said the journal did not subject Motherisk articles to “a full double-blind peer-review process. This was based on assumptions about the quality of the work and the integrity of the organization.” Going forward, the authors said the journal will only work with institutions or organizations that “do not have any ties to industry or other entities that would create, or even appear to create, information or guidelines that have a purpose other than clear and science-based benefit to patients.”.........The journal’s new stance credits the work of Persaud, who recently co-authored a research article that found “questionable data integrity, high dropout rate, and other methodological concerns” with a 1975 clinical trial that regulators have cited as proof of the drug’s efficacy. Persaud’s research also found a 1997 study affiliated with Motherisk — a “meta-analysis” of 24 individual studies — inaccurately suggested the antihistamine in Diclectin could actually reduce the chance of birth defects. “Pregnant women might be disappointed to learn that a study underlying the previous recommendation for this medication was flawed and inaccurate. This has now been confirmed by the journal that published the original guidelines,” Persaud said.........A Sick Kids spokesperson said the hospital implemented a new conflict-of-interest policy after questions were raised about Duchesnay’s funding for Motherisk programs and research. The new policy ensures the hospital “takes into consideration health sector best practices as they relate to disclosure and management of conflicts of interest,” Gwen Burrows said. Sick Kids no longer receives funding from Duchesnay, she said. The Motherisk program came under fire in late 2014 after the Star exposed concerns about the reliability of its drug and alcohol hair tests, which were used in thousands of child protection cases and were often accepted without question as proof of parental substance abuse. Sick Kids shuttered the lab and issued a public apology in 2015 for “unacceptable” practices after completing an internal probe. But the hospital has continued to house Motherisk and support its other functions, which include popular helplines for expectant and lactating women and their doctors. The call centre responds to 30,000 calls per year, according to 2015 statistics on Motherisk’s website, which describes the advice it provides as “scientific” and “evidence-based.”"
The entire story can be found at:
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/