The Hydra monster of today

On the cover of last month’s British Journal of General Practice was a picture of Hercules confronting the Lernaean Hydra. This prompted one commentator to say on social media; “The beast had poisonous breath, many heads and a bad attitude . . remind you of anyone?”.

In a response somebody suggested the Science Media Centre. The Hydra is a deadly serpent and every time one head is chopped off two more grow in its place.

The Science Media Centre has been busy of late providing the “megaphones” behind the headlines. At the same time the Science Media Centre has  been deafeningly quiet over the need for full transparency of competing interests that may lie behind their headlines. In terms of ethical science this is monstrous. The Hydra has returned!

In a rapid response to a BMJ Medicine and the Media feature on prescribing statins to the over 75s, a retired Consultant Rheumatologist said:

“The Science Media Centre, whose press conference made much of the 8000 lives to be saved by prescribing statins to fit over 75s, is generously funded, in part, by pharma. Information which is easily ascertained on their website.

The Science Media Centre and the BMJ often omit to tell us how much money will accrue to pharma, from such prescribing initiatives which are made to appear in the public health interest.”

Here are some further comments on the Science Media Centre (these are not from the BMJ):

It is my view that it is time the scientific community took action. The Science Media Centre should not be allowed to operate until full Sunshine legislation is in place. Otherwise it is the monstrous Hydra that meets the headlines and lives may be put at risk.

Perhaps we could petition for an inquiry into the Science Media Centre? Are there any Hercules out there brave enough to take the Hydra on?

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