Intended for healthcare professionals

Snakes, Ladders, And Spin

HARLOT plc: an amalgamation of the world's two oldest professions

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 18 December 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1442
  1. David L Sackett, director ( on behalf of HARLOT plc,
  2. Andrew D Oxman, director2
  1. 1Trout Research and Education Center, Markdale, ON, Canada N0C 1H0
  2. 2Department of Health Services Research, Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Welfare, Oslo 0031, Norway
  1. Correspondence to: D L Sackett

    Tired of being good but poor, the authors have amalgamated the world's two oldest professions in a new niche company, HARLOT plc, specialising in How to Achieve positive Results without actually Lying to Overcome the Truth

    We've been good. DLS has prohibited sponsors' stockholders, much less employees, from seats on his data safety and monitoring boards and has enforced the banning of pharmaceutical reps from the medical wards at McMaster University. ADO has exposed problems with experts and has promulgated rigorous reviews of research to inform decisions about health care. In sum, we have established impeccable reputations for protecting the validity of randomised trials and systematic reviews, and for exposing lapses in methods, validity, therapeutic claims, and professional conduct.

    We've also been poor. DLS drives a clapped out pick-up truck, and his rowing boat leaks. ADO wears worn out blue jeans and hasn't had a new pair of shoes for 10 years.

    It has finally dawned on us that being good and being poor are causally related: beinggood doesn't pay. Accordingly, we have decided that it's time for us to find out whether being bad pays better. We're combining the world's oldest and second oldest professions, cashing in on our reputations, and distributing this confidential prospectus for our new company, HARLOT plc.

    HARLOT services

    HARLOT plc will provide a comprehensive package of services to discriminating trial sponsors who don't want to risk the acceptance and application of their products and policies amid the uncertainties of dispassionate science. Through a series of blind, wholly owned subsidiaries, we can guarantee positive results for the manufacturers of dodgy drugs and devices who are seeking to increase their market shares, for health professional guilds who want to increase the demand for their unnecessary diagnostic and therapeutic services, and for local and national health departments who are …

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