Off-label use & aggressive public relations • Treating depression with botox

A magazine cover like this can raise three things: eyebrows … questions … hope. How can one drug do all this cover claims? Botox injections (usually botulinum toxin type A) are currently FDA-approved for overactive bladders, chronic migraine headaches, repetitive neck spasms (cervical dystonia), spastic arm muscles, overactive sweat glands in the armpits (axillary hyperhidrosis), and […]


You want me to put what where!? News media wisely take Gwyneth Paltrow to task for latest eye-rolling idea

“Jade eggs can help cultivate sexual energy, increase orgasm, balance the cycle, stimulate key reflexology around vaginal walls, tighten and tone, prevent uterine prolapse, increase control of the whole perineum and bladder, develop and clear chi pathways in the body, intensify feminine energy, and invigorate our life force.” These are just a few of the […]


Too much sitting ages you 8 years? Lazy headlines and a lost opportunity to educate about telomeres

“Sitting too much ages you by 8 years.” That was TIME’s lazy headline yesterday about a study on the effects of physical activity on telomeres. Telomeres are the caps at the ends of DNA strands that protect our genetic information. Every time our cells replicate, the caps get a little bit shorter and a little […]


Is it asthma? Many diagnosed with condition receive unnecessary or incorrect treatment

As many as 1 in 3 adults diagnosed with asthma may not actually have the disease, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Canadian researchers evaluated 613 patients with physician-diagnosed asthma and found that 203 participants (33%) most likely did not have the disease. After an additional 12 months […]


Health care reform under Trump: A guide to “universal access” and other slippery slogans 

The next health care reform messaging war has begun, and when the slogans start flying, some reporters start following. We’ve been through this before. In 2009 during debate on the Affordable Care Act, hardly a day went by without some news organization passing along the shop-worn phrase, “affordable quality health care for all.” It worked […]


Conflicts of interest in medicine: pervasive, worrisome, and detrimental to healthcare

The well-respected medical journal, JAMA Internal Medicine, has published a special collection of articles highlighting blatant conflicts of interest between healthcare and industry. It’s a topic we’ve covered hundreds of times dating back to the spring of 2005 and we’re glad to see it getting special attention. Before launching into the JAMA articles I wanted […]


Pancreatic cancer PR spin: Another reason for Yale University to review our educational resources

If only Yale University PR folks had spent some time with our toolkit of resources. If they had, it’s hard to imagine they would have sent out this misleading tweet last week about the benefits of aspirin for pancreatic cancer prevention: Regular aspirin use lowers risk for pancreatic cancer by almost 50%, says Yale-led study […]


5-Star Friday: Unvetted public relations & silencing science

STAT – which we often admire for its thoughtful and thorough journalism – had a busy and commendable week. Earlier this week they published two excellent articles addressing timely and provocative topics. Though they weren’t the type of stories that are eligible to be systematically reviewed by our expert team, each of them is worthy of five stars in […]

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‘Amazing breakthrough … one step closer to a cure:’ Lessons from CAR-T coverage

Perhaps you’ve heard of recent advances in using a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. One such therapy, getting a great deal of attention in Phase II trials treating blood cancers (like leukemia and lymphoma), is called “chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy” — or CAR-T.  It works by collecting the patient’s own T-cells (white blood […]


Headline vs. study: Bait and switch?

We all do it in journalism. We are taught to write a headline that a) captures what the story is about, and b) captures the reader’s attention. Nothing wrong with that. Where the problem comes in is if the headline misleads or misinforms. And, as is so often the case with healthcare topics, that sort […]


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