I just got word that we got funding from an external to buy 400 copies of Bad Pharma to use as instruction material in our redesigned course on academic and scientific education. The book touches upon the role of the pharmaceutical industry in the design, execution, presentation and dissemination of results of clinical trials. The author, Ben Goldacre, identifies several problems and brings forth several solutions. But are these all correct?
We will use this basic question as the basis for a complete symposium on this topic: are the problems identified by Goldacre the real problems, or just cherry picked examples from the past? And are the solutions that he provides real solution that could work? And can we think of any other way to improve the care of our patients in the future?
I had this idea a long time ago when i first read this book. It touches upon a matter that is discussed in the old version of this course for a couple of years. Even more so: during this course students are asked to grade the quality of trials and the subsequent reference to this publication. The results show that the quality is often low, even in high impact journals, and that the references do not always justify the claims made in medical advertisements. These results have been published in several publications and are even cited in the book.
It was quite a hassle to get a ‘normal’ book into the curriculum of our medical center. Most people liked the idea of reading a book and organising a symposium, but a lot of people told me that it was impossible to do so. A “normal” book could not be placed on the mandatory reading list, and just buying electronic or hard copy versions is just way to expensive. luckily, with help from the Walaeus Library of the LUMC and prof FMH we were able to obtain external funding. And no, its not funded by ‘big pharma’, but a small fund that subsidises small but nice projects that make the world a bit smarter.
The American Book Center decided to actively promote thesis printing by their EBM. They asked me whether they could use the cover of my thesis on their promotional material because of the nice design Iris made for the cover. Since the EBM operator Joe was very helpful during the lay-out and printing process, I am willing to promote the EBM from the ABC! Curious what I am talking about? Please refer to my previous post on printing my thesis.
I decided to go the all the way: I published my thesis. So not only did I write my thesis, I also published a book. My publisher -pfoe thats sounds posh- is the The American Book Center – AnyBook Press and the ISBN is 978-94-91030-39-0.
Instead of the standard 300 copies of thesis that are sent to other scientist, I decided that I wanted to do things a little different: other scientist can look up the original publications, and friends and family only read the Dutch summary and the acknowledgements. Therefore, I am not printing 300 copies, but only a fraction of that number; the obligatory copies for the dean, university, committee and library (i.e. 30 copies or so).
Everybody else can either download the full version or the Dutch Summary in a couple of days time. Not only do a lot of people prefer pfds anyway, it saves time, money and trees. If you really want to have a physical book, you can order a copy with me. Click here for more information.
This is all possible because I am not publishing this book the old fashion way, But I am using the printing-on-demand espresso book machine, or EBM. This machine is a great invention: just bring two pdfs – the cover and the text- and 8 minutes later, PRESTO! your book. Take a look at the video below.
A great benefit is that it is also possible to print just 1 book check for errors, adapt your text and lay out, and only then order the rest of the books needed. I love the EBM. The machine can be found all around the US, and only in two places in Europe. Luckily for me, both are in the Netherlands; they are located in the American Book Center stores of which one is located in The Hague -only 143 meters away from my home-. So, last week I printed my first test copy, with some great help by EBM operator Joe. Yippie!