Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tonga

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Literacy Test

Read the first article's extract, then the second.

From the 1 April 2006 British Medical Journal [note: always check the date]:

BMJ 2006;332:745 (1 April), doi:10.1136/bmj.332.7544.745-a


Scientists find new disease: motivational deficiency disorder

Ray Moynihan


Extreme laziness may have a medical basis, say a group of high profile Australian scientists, describing a new condition called motivational deficiency disorder (MoDeD).

The condition is claimed to affect up to one in five Australians and is characterised by overwhelming and debilitating apathy. Neuroscientists at the University of Newcastle in Australia say that in severe cases motivational deficiency disorder can be fatal, because the condition reduces the motivation to breathe.

Neurologist Leth Argos is part of the team that has identified the disorder, which can be diagnosed using a combination of positron emission tomography and low scores on a motivation rating scale, previously validated in elite athletes. "This disorder is poorly understood," Professor Argos told the BMJ. "It is underdiagnosed and undertreated."

Professor Argos is an adviser to a small Australian biotechnology company, Healthtec, which is currently concluding phase II trials of indolebant, a cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist. Although . . . [Full text of this article available to subscribers]

Follow-up article from the 22 April 2006 BMJ:

BMJ 2006;332:932 (22 April), doi:10.1136/bmj.332.7547.932-a

News Extra

People are easily duped about new diseases, conference is told

Newcastle, New South Wales

Bob Burton

The enthusiasm with which news outlets uncritically reported the spoof disease motivational deficit disorder and the drug indolebant took their creators by surprise (BMJ 2006;332:745, 1 Apr).

David Henry, the convenor of a conference on disease mongering held last week in Newcastle, New South Wales, said the media coverage showed "that it is relatively easy to get [out] the concept of a disease that doesn't exist and a treatment that doesn't exist."

Dr Henry, who is clinical pharmacologist at the University of Newcastle, said the explanation for such gullibility was that "when it comes to health, people suspend the scepticism they use in other areas of their life."

Martin Palin, the founder of the Sydney based medical public relations company Palin Communications, disputed the suggestion that public relations companies "created" new diseases for drug companies. Public relations people, he argued, "do not dictate . . . [Full text of this article available to subscribers]