Waste in medical academia must be addressed, Chalmers urges in The BMJ Awards acceptance speech

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 09 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3235
  1. Tom Moberly
  1. 1BMJ

Medical academia is wasting “massive” amounts of taxpayers’ money, and the public must put it under pressure to change, Iain Chalmers told the audience at The BMJ Awards ceremony in London on 8 May.

At the event Chalmers was presented with the Lifetime Achievement award 2014, sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The ceremony took place at the Westminster Park Plaza Hotel, London, and the evening was hosted by the broadcaster Gyles Brandreth and sponsored by the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS). Awards were also presented in another 12 categories.1

Chalmers said that his work had been motivated by the realisation that patients were suffering because clinicians had no ready access to research results that would change their practice. “Although things have improved somewhat, patients and clinicians still lack ready access to the results of research relevant to their decisions in healthcare, and that’s unacceptable,” he said.

“Medical academia has a great deal to answer for in this deficiency. Medical academia, I believe, is unduly complacent—complacent about the massive waste of resources provided by the public for the research that they do. This state of affairs is unlikely to change without public pressure, and I hope to play my part in fostering that pressure.”

Presenting the award, Ben Goldacre, an open data campaigner, said that Chalmers had “spent his life shining a bright, and often very unflattering, light on the imperfections in evidence based medicine,” fighting with an ire “proportionate to the scale of the problems he is dealing with.”

Goldacre added, “There are huge numbers of patients who suffer and die unnecessarily because of our failure to perfect evidence based medicine. Iain fights with a fury and passion that is commensurate with the scale of that suffering. If there are those out there who fail to feel that in their belly, who think that these problems are too abstract and too irrelevant, then they are wrong—and Iain, as always, is right.”

Chalmers commended GSK for being the first global company to sign up to the AllTrials campaign, “in contrast to the Academy of Medical Sciences, for example, which is still havering about whether it can support the principles of registering and publishing all trials.” He also praised the work of The BMJ and its editor, Fiona Godlee. “I’m grateful to Fiona and The BMJ for being a beacon of moral leadership for a medical profession which is sorely in need of good moral leadership,” he said.


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3235


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