Wednesday, 17 February 2016

McKee And More On That 95% Conspiracy Theory

Cast your mind back to January and you will remember our assiduous fellow jewel robbing friend, AT, uncovering conversations between CMO Sally Davies and Martin McKee where the latter stated that a key statistic in Public Health England's review of e-cig evidence - that e-cigs are around 95% less harmful than tobacco - was "originally created by BAT".

I wrote about it at the time, remarking that it was an extraordinary claim and a daft conspiracy theory. However, AT subsequently pointed out by email that the FOI response shows McKee directing Davies to an attachment which was not provided with the text of the emails. It was quite possible that this contained some explosive evidence that BAT really had "created" the 95% figure, so he toddled off to request it.

He just pinged me the response and it is as disappointing as it is hilarious!

The attachment turns out to be nothing more than a draft of this BMJ smear job - attributed to McKee and fellow charlatan Simon Capewell - which has already been discussed at length (as well as being ripped to pieces) here and elsewhere.

So, drum roll please ... here - sticking faithfully to the original draft sent to Davies - is the earth-shattering evidence in favour of McKee's claim that the 95% figure was "originally created by BAT". Brace yourselves.
In fact it is from a meeting of 12 people, including known supporters of e-cigarettes, some of whom have received funding from manufacturers. The meeting was part funded by EuroSwiss Health, one of several companies registered at the same address in a small town near Geneva whose Chief Executive has previously received funding from British American Tobacco, and who calls for the company to be “applauded” in their 2013 Sustainability Report​. ​Some others present are not known from (sic) their expertise in tobacco control but do have links to the Swiss company’s Chief Executive. The group also included the tobacco lead at PHE.
Erm, and that's it.

So to sum up (concentrate please because it's complicated). In 2010 some bloke wrote a book no-one has heard of let alone read; he then "applauded" BAT in 2013 for moving into products which are not cigarettes; he is linked to an organisation which part-funded a study in April 2014 by former government adviser David Nutt and others including the tobacco lead at PHE, so therefore the 95% figure included in PHE's 2015 review was - as McKee confidently communicated to the CMO - "originally created by BAT". Oh yeah, and amongst the panel of 12 there were no sociologists, psychiatrists, left wing marketing fruitcakes or aircraft engineers from the tobacco control industry to foment doubt and confusion.

Well QE fucking D!

Quite incredible, isn't it? I can only assume from this that McKee is judging others by 'public health's' own grubby standards.

But even if you take this laughable nonsense as proof positive that the 95% best guesstimate in this particular study was "originally created by BAT", it's still desperate straw-clutching from the porky porky-pie teller, as Clive Bates highlighted at the time.
The PHE’s lead authors, Professors Ann McNeill and Professor Peter Hajek, have no conflicts of interest whatsoever and come with unimpeachable reputations and great depth of experience.  They didn’t just rely on the Nutt et al study, they applied their own expert judgement to conclude that new evidence did not change the view expressed in the previous PHE evidence review, and that ‘95% lower’ was a realistic estimate of relative risk, including an allowance for future uncertainty. In other words, the 95% figure is McNeill’s and Hajek’s judgement, and they were reporting that it coincides with what other experts expressed in other studies.
McKee disregarded any of that, instead convincing himself of some vague pro-ecig illuminati conspiracy nonsense based on nothing but winks and innuendo. This is the advice he was communicating to Sally Davies in his role as trusted expert. It is David Icke-esque wibble that only a mind fatally crippled with hatred for vaping and the tobacco industry could possibly conjure up. And in doing so, he was obviously quite happy to insult the intelligence of members of his own profession and effectively call them incompetent.

But then what else can we expect from someone who is willing to lie to his peers in the BMJ?

H/T AT via email


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