Monday, December 31, 2012

Komaroff and his Ampligen Vote

Anthony Komaroff voted against the FDA approval of Ampligen. Now there is some huffing and puffing in the ME/CFS blogosphere about this (which I will not dignify with a link): Some are writing that he is removed from the ME/CFS patient population (and that could as well be from Mars, not from Earth). Some paint him as a sort of underhanded malicious villain (and presumably bought by someone).

Personally, I think this is utterly stupid.

There is an article posted on "Medscape Medical News" (via) that sheds some little light on Komaroffs decision:
Anthony Komaroff, MD, Simcox/Clifford/Higby Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, voted no on both efficacy and safety. "As a physician who has cared for many of these patients for nearly a quarter of a century, nothing would please me more than solid evidence of an effective therapy, but I think there are enough questions about the conduct of the studies that it does not meet the standard of adequate evidence."
Even if I don't know the details behind his decision, I think his explanation is reasonable. It is reasonable to vote agains a drug, if one thinks that there are questions about the conduct of the drug studies. And my impression is that Anthony Komaroff never says or does anything without having the facts to back him up. If he says the FDA should not approve Ampligen, we should better listen.

And just because there is no currently approved drug for ME/CFS, that does not mean we should accept badly done drug studies.

What if Ampligen does not work as we hope? What if its efficiency or safety are actually worse than what the patient anecdotes suggest? In that case an approval could do us some serious harm. Directly, by harming patients who receive the drug and by costing money needed for proper research. And indirectly because "we" lobbied for an ineffective and/or dangerous drug. This would play right into the hands of the psychobabblers.

And what is really awful, that we see like in 2010 with the XMRV-fraud the same stupid behavior by "patient advocates" and "patient activists", who treat critics like villains. Case in point in 2010 was John Coffin who (rightfully) criticized Mikovits, who said nothing but the truth (and that in a very polite and unassuming manner), and who in turn was portrayed by "patient advocates" and "patient activists" as if he were the baby-eating-anti-christ himself.

And now it seems that Komaroff is the target of this misguided anger.

So, let me tell all those stupid "patient advocates" and stupid "patient activists" out there:
It is you, who are malicious. By ignoring valid criticism. By ignoring the valid reasons behind the criticism. By ascribing malicious motives to critics, motives that only exist in your head.

With friend like these "patient advocates" and these "patient activists", we don't need enemies.

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