Prestigious Journal Publishes Annual April Fool's 'Research'

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SATURDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- It has long been the policy of the highly regarded British Medical Journal to throw off its shackles of respectability on April 1 and treat its readers to scientific inquiry into little-known and completely fabricated "medical research."

This year is no exception. So, with apologies to Louis Pasteur, Jonas Salk, and all those who came between, here is what the folks at the BMJ are offering up this year:

Using positron emission tomography, scientists have discovered a new and potentially life-threatening condition called motivational deficiency disorder (MoDeD), according to a news article published on April Fool's Day by the journal.

Dr. Leth Argos, a neurologist at the University of Newcastle in Australia, describes the primary symptoms of MoDeD as overwhelming and debilitating apathy, which in severe cases can lead to a potentially fatal complication: A lack of motivation to breathe. One study estimates that one-in-five Australians may have the condition, costing the economy $1.7 billion per year in lost productivity. (Editor's note: This denigration of Australians by the writers at the BMJ is neither condoned nor sanctioned by the HealthDay editorial staff.)

Healthtec, an Australian biotechnology company, is concluding phase II trials of a MoDeD treatment: Indolebant, a cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist. "Indolebant is effective and well tolerated, Argos said. "One young man who could not leave his sofa is now working as an investment adviser in Sydney.

David Henry, a clinical pharmacologist at the University of Newcastle, accused his colleagues of "medicalizing" normal slacker tendencies. Indolebant may bring some relief to those with a debilitating form of MoDeD, "but common laziness is not a disease," Henry said. "People have an absolute right to just sit there."

In protest, Henry has organized an April 11-13 conference on "disease mongering," which will offer a consensus statement in an upcoming issue of PLoS Medicine.

Here is the full text -- the second article.