Thursday, September 28, 2006

Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot? -

This site may well be a joke, but I wanted to point out the strangeness of it. Something to consider when you see ads for clinical trials.
Update: Now that there is a companion site with videos, it's clear that this is a joke. The M&I site (separate) is currently still as described here, and the lesson about examining the legitimacy of ads for clinical trials stands.

Browsing through the Nashville Scene last night, I found an ad recruiting men into studies of "Cyclical Non-Uterine Dysmenorrhea," leading to the website [Note: At the time of the original post, this site led here, the "MacInnes and Porritt Institute" site, not to the current site with videos]. This struck me as odd, because in medical terminology, dysmenorrhea very specifically means painful menstruation. The second odd bit is that "cyclical non-uterine dysmenorrhea" does not seem to be a "real" term, and a Google search turned it up solely on the website of the MacInnes and Porritt Institute (the menwithcramps people). The site goes on to call the condition "male menstrual cramps," and the call for study volunteers states:
Do you experience monthly cramping and pain in the lower abdomen and upper groin?

Do these cramps interfere with work, sports, parenting, or fun?

Do you have monthly gas-like pain with no associated "release?"

You may have Male Cyclical Non-Uterine Dysmenorrhea, or "Male Menstrual Cramps." If so, you may be eligible to participate in a Phase I Clinical Research Study to evaluate new progressive treatments for this disorder. Qualified male volunteers will receive study-related care at no cost. Your identity and information will be held in the strictest confidence whenever possible.*
Other oddities from the site:
  • "We are very proud and excited to welcome Dr. Gerhardt Fardel as the MacInnes and Porritt "Alice MacInnes Visiting Fellow" for the period beginning August 2006. Fardel's field research seeking alternative methods to the Heimlich Maneuver is now complete and his work is singularly focused on finding a treatment and cure for Cyclical Non-Uterine Dysmenorrhea (CNUD), commonly called Male Menstrual Cramps. Dr. Fardel has conducted an enviable body of research over his distinguished career. He has posed over a thousand new hypotheses and theorems resulting in over 100 clinical studies..."
    Well, a PubMed search for the author Fardel G turned up 10 results, primarily representing an infectious disease researcher working in France; it's not clear that this is the same Fardel.

  • "Over his own scientific career, Dr. Gerhardt Fardel has endeavored to avoid the great corrupting influences of fame, choosing to work only on under-reported projects, and managing to never attract financial success or professional notoriety of any kind. This has been his preference."
    Um, okay. This is unusual because most scientists do their work with the intent of eventually having it peer-reviewed and published in order to share their findings. Given that a PubMed search for articles published in the last 1 year (which wouldn't even represent all of the health-related research published in a year) turned up 680,408 results, publishing a couple of papers on your research would hardly automatically make you susceptible to "corrupting influences of fame." The lack of published articles seems to contradict the website's claim that "Gerhardt Fardel is also a scientist of some note in certain scientific circles."

  • Where are they?
    "We're Here to Stay
    The MacInnes and Porritt Institute is housed in a beautiful landmark building just off the main commercial district located near the new downtown research park in a formerly unincorporated development zone. We welcome your visits."
    That's incredibly vague. No other location information is available on the site. A WHOIS search turns up the following information for the domain registration; the PO Box address seems to belong to Network Solutions, providing no additional information about the Institute's location:
    MacInnes and Porritt Institute
    c/o Network Solutions
    P.O. Box 447
    Herndon, VA 20172-0447
    Phone: 570-708-8780

  • You can't actually volunteer for a study:
    According to the site, "As of August 30, 2006, our study has been closed. Participants have been selected from the pool of volunteers." So why are they advertising in a late September issue of The Scene? The lack of solid information about where studies are conducted, who oversees them, and other details (such as contact information) is also troublesome. If any of you have additional information on this, I'd love to hear about it.

    The terminology just bothers me - you can't have "Male Menstrual Cramps," because males don't menstruate. Males can have pelvic pain, but it's misleading to label it menstrual, and I have trouble with anyone who's starting a study from a false premise.

    Questions to ask before consenting to be part of a clinical trial (provided by the FDA):
    * What is the study trying to find out?
    * What kinds of test and exams will I have to take while I'm in the study? How much time do these take? What is involved in each test?
    * How often does the study require me to go to the doctor or clinic?
    * Will I be hospitalized? If so, how often and for how long?
    * What are the costs to me? Will my health insurance pay for it?
    * What follow-up will there be?
    * What will happen at the end of the study?
    * What are my other treatment choices? How do they compare with the treatment being studied?
    * What side effects can I expect from the treatment being tested? How do they compare with side effects of standard treatment?
    * How long will the study last?

    Technorati Tags: ;
    MeSH Tags: Clinical Trials; Dysmenorrhea; Ethics, Research; Pelvic Pain


    Blogger Toby said...

    I'm a guy and sometimes I have cramps. Maybe the study is real? I read somewhere that menstrual cramps are contagious.

    12:03 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Cramps are not contagious - sometimes women who spend a lot of time together will have their periods start to occur more closely together, but it's not "contagious" per se, and neither are cramps, to the best of my knowledge. As I pointed out, there are some other reasons a man might have a cramping sensation in the pelvic area, but it can't be menstrual, as men don't menstruate. In general, I'm troubled by the tone, quality, and quantity of information on the site; it's important to be well-informed when participating in trials, and this institute's website does nothing to help that.

    12:12 PM  
    Blogger galgrumman said...

    As a woman, I appreciate your coverage of so many female issues- and I am a regular follower of your blog. I do have to differ on your position that men cannot have menstrual cramps. Although the American community is reluctant to name or acknowledge this disorder, most Europeans (specifically the French) accept it, and are beginning to treat it. My husband has menstrual cramps and we attended a seminar by Dr. Fardel in Bonn Germany last year. Apparently there are three types of male menstrual cramps: sympathetic, chemical, and genetic. My husband, while not having any female anatomy per se, does suffer from the genetic variety as did his father and as does our son who is partipating in the study. we have had limited contact with him during the study. (I guess this is a requirement of Doctor Fardel). I'll be talking to him next week, and will post anything I learn about his progress or specific details of the study. As to your other visitors post that cramps might be contagious. That is absurd and this type of incorrect information can confuse the public about this topic. They are not contagious!

    1:54 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    galgrumman - I'll be very interested to hear what you find out. Please do keep me posted. Thank you for your comment.

    2:06 PM  
    Blogger Jane Doe said...

    I don't know....though if there were some male version of PMS it would explain a lot about my boyfriend! :D

    2:43 PM  
    Blogger Nathan Williams said...

    The web site is mighty suspicious. The total lack of real contact information or location seems like a solid reason to think this is a scam, as does the fact that none of the people listed as being on the board seem to exist (names don't match any searches, and neither do their cited awards and related materials) But a scam for what? Someone's kicks? Wasting the space of alt-weeklies nationwide (I found the ad for this in Boston's Weekly Dig).

    8:17 PM  
    Blogger roncaldwell said...

    It's a JOKE.

    9:22 AM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    What I am really curious about is why someone would pay for advertising in alt-weeklies all over the country for said joke? It's not as though the site has advertising or some apparent revenue-generating mechanism. Is it that funny of a joke, to waste that kind of money? Puzzling.

    11:38 AM  
    Blogger Ciona said...

    Hey! I ran across your blog while doing some "research" on Hmmm . . . did you watch the videos? Obviously, this is a joke. But the videos are actually very professionally done. Quite possibly Hollywood's attempt to advertise a comedy called "MenWithCramps" that they will release later. OR they are simply testing ambiguous internet publicity and how much hype it can get. It's possible . . .

    8:10 AM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Yes, now that the videos are up, I think it's much clearer that the site is a joke (although the M&I site is less clear). I suspect that you're probably right, that it's a project similar to LonelyGirl, trying to get buzz for a later video and whatnot.

    8:22 AM  
    Blogger RachaelFaithDeAngelis said...

    It's sad to me to have found that sight, I have suffered from regular cramps for years, but then again I went looking for this stuff because I'm a transsexual that found out I may be inter-sexed. I have secondary sex characteristic naturally and was looking for real help, that sight is about the only thing I've found other than pron. When I saw it was nothing more than a well researched joke it broke my heart (Napoleon had secondary sexual characteristics). Sadly all I can do is vent here and I'm not even sure anyone here will understand.

    1:22 AM  
    Blogger RachaelFaithDeAngelis said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1:23 AM  
    Blogger inge said...

    After seeing the "funny" video of men with cramps and the idea that this is all an advertisement of a heat patch for women with cramps, it seems to me that these advertisers do not respect their customers.
    This is a sad reminder of the times and cultures when women who were menstruating were disrespected, made fun of and were kept out of society.
    They could not draw a beer, they could not enter a church or holy temple, because they are unclean. Even half a century ago, menstrual cramps were used as an excuse to exclude women from all sorts of jobs, especially in the military. It seems the stigmatising of women because they "bleed for several days and do not die" is not over yet. Today this is also still a reality in many cultures.
    Menstrual cramps are made fun of in the "documentary" because the bottom line is, men do not have such cramps. .(Although in some cases they do, and that is even more painful).
    The reference to Achilles who was held by his belly and not by his foot, and the cave man holding a cup of hot drink and showing an aching belly is all supposed to be funny. Just imagine these historic figures would have had menstrual cramps! Hilarious!

    In this documentary, only men matter, it is a man's world. By advertising like this, they miss the point that half the world's population is female and so are their customers.
    Is their product made for men? If not, why pretend that they are selling to men? Is it less heroic to make a product for women? It seems that that is the message this advertisement wants to bring across.
    Menstrual cramps are both uncomfortable and sometimes slightly embarrassing, just like hemeroids and dandruff and losing your hair (as a man).
    There is no need to make fun of it in order to sell a product. I for one will never buy this product because of this ad, and I urge other women to boycot it as well.
    If producers do not take us and our physical conditions seriously, we rather buy from others that do.

    Inge Versteegt, the Netherlands

    1:35 PM  
    Anonymous Melanie said...

    This has got to be the stupidest ad campaign I've ever seen. Seriously. Not going to buy ANYTHING from ThermaCare ever again.

    2:44 PM  

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