Health News Review
  • Feb 6 2014

    Journalism via news release as Pfizer gets free publicity without releasing any data

    This week, Pfizer announced news from a trial of a drug for advanced breast cancer. The Pfizer news release stated “that the randomized Phase 2 trial [PALOMA-1] of palbociclib achieved its primary endpoint by demonstrating a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) for the combination of palbociclib and letrozole compared with [...]

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  • Feb 5 2014

    Dueling diseases…competing cancer causes…my cancer is worse than your cancer

    An article on Salon, ” ‘I wish I had breast cancer’: The latest terrible cancer campaign,” criticizes the Pancreatic Cancer Action organization for its latest “awareness” campaign.   In it, a man says “I wish I had testicular cancer” and a woman says “I wish I had breast cancer.” The author of the Salon piece [...]

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  • Feb 5 2014

    When your doctor recommends a test: another “Less is More” example

    A thoughtful perspective piece in JAMA Internal Medicine‘s “Less is More” series is entitled, “A Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry Scan:  Need to Know vs. Nice to Know.” The DXA scan is a test looking for signs of osteoporosis. The piece is written by a woman physician who had turned 50 and was now facing a recommendation [...]

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  • Feb 5 2014

    Cancer fundraiser toys with truth in using robotic surgery to get donations

    Canadians may have thought they had been transported south of the border, where robotic surgery is widely and wildly promoted all the time. But this week, for World Cancer Day, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation posted this fundraising plea: The website explains: “Give 6 patients the best surgery while changing cancer care internationally with your [...]

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  • Feb 4 2014

    My weekly fix from Richard Lehman’s journal review blog

    Jut a few gems from the February 3 edition: “Oh great. Another phase 2 study of a pricey monoclonal antibody to address the “epidemic of osteoporosis,” i.e. a pharma-driven epidemic of overdiagnosis in older women. With a nice surrogate end point: bone mineral density, which bears an oblique relationship to fracture risk. And, in a [...]

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  • Feb 4 2014

    Don’t start fist-bumping over a study in two people!

    The Skeptical Scalpel, the nom de digital of a retired surgeon on a blog and Twitter, writes this week: Some well-intentioned researchers from West Virginia University published a small study claiming that substituting a fist bump for a handshake might reduce the transmission of bacteria. Since many illnesses can be transmitted by contaminated hands, the [...]

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  • Jan 24 2014

    JAMA papers raise questions about FDA drug and device approval

    An important series of papers was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week. “Clinical Trial Evidence Supporting FDA Approval of Novel Therapeutic Agents, 2005-2012,” by Dr. Joseph Ross and colleagues, concluded that the quality of clinical trial evidence used by the FDA as the basis of approving new drugs varies widely.  [...]

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  • Jan 24 2014

    “Reducing health anxiety by shutting down certain newspapers”

    In his weekly journal review on a BMJ blog, Dr. Richard Lehman writes about a study published in the Lancet: This trial of cognitive behavioural therapy for “health anxiety” was an enormous undertaking: “Of 28 991 patients screened, 444 were randomly assigned to receive either adapted cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT-HA group, 219 participants) or standard [...]

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  • Jan 23 2014

    A patient advocate’s powerful piece on Lisa Bonchek Adams and the Kellers’ criticism – the DCIS Sea of Uncertainty

    I’ve been slow to comment on the firestorm of criticism that arose when Emma Keller of The Guardian questioned the Twitter messages by Lisa Bonchek Adams, a young woman with stage IV breast cancer. I haven’t felt the need to comment since so many people have done such a thorough job of writing about this [...]

    5 Comments
  • Jan 22 2014

    Misleading BMJ news releases may be one reason journalists report on more observational studies

    Just a few days ago, a paper in the journal PLoS One, “Media Coverage of Medical Journals: Do the Best Articles Make the News?” showed how journalists are more likely to report on observational studies than on randomized clinical trials.  The authors suggest this shows a systematic bias to report on weaker evidence. And here’s [...]

    17 Comments