4 12/6/2016

With media watchdogs on the sidelines, pharma-funded advocacy groups pushed Cures Act to the finish line  

The passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which sailed through the House of Representatives last week on its way to a future White House signing ceremony, is due in no small measure to the activities of hundreds of patient advocacy groups and assorted other stakeholders that worked in overdrive the past two years pushing […]

12/5/2016

We say ‘nuts’ to news release claiming nuts cut risk of many diseases

“Nuts” – that was the one word that a US Army officer used to respond to a Nazi call for surrender of the encircled American troops near Bastogne, Belgium in December 1944. 72 years later, “Nuts” could be my one word response to a news release from Imperial College London that promised, “A handful of nuts a day cuts the […]

2 12/2/2016

When yesterday’s cancer “discovery” is reversed by today’s better evidence — a cautionary tale for PR professionals and journalists

In February we pushed back against a misleading news release from Yale University that ran with the headline, “Yale researchers discover underlying cause of myeloma.” The release claimed that the researchers identified “what causes a third of all myelomas,” describing a faulty immune system response to compounds known as lysolipids as the culprit. But that […]

12/1/2016

Fact boxes: A tool to immunize the public against vaccine misinformation

The following guest post is co-authored by Mirjam Jenny, Head Research Scientist at the Harding Center for Risk Literacy, and Ina Baum, a Research Coordinator at the Center. The Harding Center is an initiative of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, which is directed by one of the leading figures in risk […]

2 11/30/2016

Association ≠ Causation reminder on ‘racket sports reduce risk of death’ stories

In 2017 we will have a regular column highlighting media messages that should have listened to our frequent reminder: Association ≠ Causation. In other words, they fail to remind readers and listeners about the clear limitations of observational studies that cannot prove cause and effect. Yet they often use causal language to describe the results of such […]

1 11/29/2016

Off-label drug marketing: Who will decide what’s “truthful” when the evidence can’t be trusted?   

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held an important public hearing on “off-label” marketing of drugs and medical devices to physicians. “Off-label” refers the use of an FDA-approved medical product for a condition that it hasn’t been approved to treat — for example using a drug approved for depression to treat a […]

5 11/29/2016

What you can do to help improve the public dialogue about health care

As the only U.S. organization that systematically evaluates media messages about health care every day, we have a lot on our plate at HealthNewsReview.org. In 10.5 years, we have published 5,000 articles, including 2,300 news story reviews and 300 reviews of PR news releases. Whether it’s incomplete news coverage on statins or a university news release making […]

11/23/2016

4 pre-Thanksgiving health news turkeys on observational studies

The limits of observational studies–once again missing from health care PR news releases. And from health care news stories. Two examples of each caught our eye in this pre-Thanksgiving news slowdown period. As real news slows down, news about observational studies often fills the void.  Just what we didn’t need. Here are some things that […]

3 11/22/2016

Journalists need to prune the overgrowth in the jungle of supplement news

Enter any chain pharmacy these days and you’ll likely find an entire aisle devoted to vitamins and supplements. Which isn’t surprising, given Americans spend roughly $30 billion on them annually. Problem is, as noted by Jane Brody in a recent New York Times article, there’s mounting evidence that supplements provide essentially no benefit to most […]

4 11/17/2016

The secret reasons why statins may not be as useful as we think

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force offered new guidance this week on the contentious question of when to prescribe cholesterol-lowering statins for millions of people without a history of heart disease. For all their import, the recommendations weren’t all that definitive. The task force found that statin use is beneficial for some people aged 40 […]

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