Do I Have to Apologize?

So it seems. I earlier wrote:

I can't find the cite, but I once read about a study which simply asked people to translate phrases like "in a few cases" and "in very rare cases" from drug safety leaflets into numerical chances. The results varied wildly, I think in some cases by a factor of 1000. Here's a simple policy proposal: You can keep your "very rare cases" all you like, but could you just add numbers?

Yesterday I bought my first pack of pills in years, and, lo and behold, before they described possible side effects, the text said something like:

Very often: In at least one out of ten cases
Often: In less than one out of ten, but at least one out of 100 cases

And so on. I say thumbs up and an additional two toes up for using natural frequencies, which most people understand better than percentages. However, not all is well: There was a section which in effect said that maybe, possibly it might not be a good idea to combine the drug with alcohol - my impression was that they simply were trying to make sure they can't be successfully sued. Also, despite the handy classification referred to above, the side effects section contained the phrase "... has been observed...", which I guess means that once one person suffered from whatever is mentioned while being on the drug - but that there's no way of knowing whether that's causal (which is why randomized trials are done in the first place).

However, definitely a step in the right direction. I wonder whether the company (Ratiopharm) came up with that or whether that's due to a new (German? EU?) regulation. Whatever the reason, either some decision-makers read this blog and changed things or I was wrong all along. I'll go with the latter.

No comments: