Health News Review

Natasha Singer’s story looks at ads for cancer centers that tout high cure rates and low risk but no evidence to back that up. Testimonials rule the message. She writes:

“In medical science, such anecdotal data would not be considered statistically valid. But ads for nonprofit medical centers are not held to scientific standards of evidence.

….If a drug maker ran an ad for a cancer medicine, Food and Drug Administration regulations would require the company to be able to support any superiority claims with substantial evidence from rigorous clinical studies.

But federal agencies cannot limit the ad claims made by nonprofit medical centers about their ability to cure people of diseases like cancer, according to the government’s main ad regulator, the Federal Trade Commission.

Cancer experts interviewed for this article say there are no comprehensive statistics showing that any one elite medical center has better overall cancer success rates than its competitors. “

It’s an important story. Read the whole thing at the link above. And don’t miss the great use of multimedia – with radio, TV and print ads included in the online story in the left margin.

Comments

Paul Cornfield posted on December 22, 2009 at 5:50 pm

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Gregory D. Pawelski posted on December 23, 2009 at 11:51 pm

NCI-designated cancer centers are a very large business which act as a base of power for academic clinical oncologists who’ve had control of clinical cancer research since the time Nixon first declared war on cancer.
Over the past couple of years, if you watched TV with any regularity, it would have been difficult to miss the direct to consumer advertising that touted the benefits of some drugs over others, especially for patients undergoing treatment for cancer.
Even to the point that buses covered with “shrink wrapped” advertising being strategically placed outside major cancer centers for patients and their families to see (EPO anyone?).

CDM coordinators services posted on December 22, 2010 at 8:36 am

I found your blog by accident, and I am very glad i did because i find it really interesting and it gives you something to think about.
I think this type of advertisements shouldn’t be allowed by the Federal Trade Commission, as it said in the article it could make cancer patients want to move to a different hospital because he thinks is going to receive a better treatment and eventually be cured. I know that nowadays everything needs marketing, internet, public awareness, money…but there are certain things that should step aside, like in this case the Hospitals. We cannot allow certain people play with real people hopes, specifically when they are suffering.

James Martin posted on May 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Nice job NYT for giving coverage to this topic.