News briefs

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust 2016; 205 (5): 197. || doi: 10.5694/mja16.n0509
Published online: 5 September 2016

Ken Harvey awarded ANZAAS Medal

Dr Ken Harvey, renowned anti-pseudoscience activist and critic of regulatory agencies, has been awarded the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) Medal for 2016. Dr Harvey, who is adjunct associate professor in Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, was presented with medal by Dr Malcolm Jenkins, the chair of ANZAAS, on 17 August. The medal is awarded each year for “services for the advancement of science or administration and organisation of scientific activities, or the teaching of science throughout Australia and New Zealand and in contributions to science that lie beyond normal professional activities”. Sir Gus Nossal and Sir Mark Oliphant are previous winners. Dr Harvey is an executive member of Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM), and has a national reputation as a strong champion of evidence-based medicine and treatment. “My interest in unethical promotion started in the 1970s when I was trying to contain hospital acquired antibiotic-resistant microorganisms,” Dr Harvey said. “I advocated the use of older, narrow-spectrum, more cost-effective antibiotics. The response of many pharmaceutical companies was, ‘You can’t afford to be wrong, use our latest, broadest-spectrum and most expensive antibiotics.’ A number of purveyors of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine also make unethical claims. So what to do? Marshal the evidence; flood the regulators with complaints, engage the media and agitate for policy change.” Congratulating Dr Harvey on his award, Professor John Dwyer, president of FSM said: “Ken Harvey is a champion for better public health in Australia. His efforts over many years have been focused on reducing the harm to consumers associated with misleading and even fraudulent promotion and use of treatments and medicines for which there is no scientific support.”

Zika virus tentacles reach further

As of 10 August, 69 countries and territories have reported evidence of mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission – 66 of them since 2015 – reports the World Health Organization. The latest to join the list include the United States, the Cayman Islands, and the Netherlands. Since February 2016, 11 countries have reported evidence of person-to-person transmission of Zika virus, probably via a sexual route. As of 10 August, 15 countries or territories have reported microcephaly and other central nervous system malformations potentially associated with Zika virus infection or suggestive of congenital infection. Canada is the latest country to report a case of congenital malformation associated with a travel-related case of Zika virus infection. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 15 live-born infants with birth defects and six pregnancy losses with birth defects with laboratory evidence of Zika virus infection. Since 10 August, 16 countries and territories have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and/or laboratory confirmation of a Zika virus infection among GBS cases. Grenada is the latest country to report a case of GBS associated with a confirmed Zika virus infection.

  • Cate Swannell



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