Health News Review
  • Jun 26 2014

    Questioning some of the ways in which new drug treatments are reported to the public

    While I’m working on a grant proposal to keep this project alive, my publishing efforts have fallen off a bit.  But it’s comforting to know that somebody else is doing some watchdog work – somebody like Paul Raeburn at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker. This week he wrote, “Cystic fibrosis breakthrough, or Wall Street coup?” [...]

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  • Jun 11 2014

    BMJ news release on red meat & breast cancer may have misled reporters again

    I shuddered as soon as I read the BMJ news release headline, which read: “Estimated risk of breast cancer increases as red meat intake increases.“  I shuddered because I predicted to myself that many headlines, if not complete news stories, would report this as proof of cause and effect.  Or, at the very least, caveats [...]

    7 Comments
  • Jun 10 2014

    Slow down on making claims for semen test for prostate cancer

    Recently, all sorts of sensational headlines popped up about: Semen test may improve prostate cancer detection Semen test for prostate cancer helps diagnose early warning signs Prostate cancer accurately identified with semen test Prostate cancer diagnosis may be more accurate with semen test Semen test is latest diagnostic prostate cancer tool and may be best [...]

    2 Comments
  • Mar 6 2014

    Improving news releases by medical journals and academic medical centers

    The journal Evidence-Based Medicine recently published an editorial, “Journals should lead the way in improving medical press releases,” by Dr. Joshua Fenton of the University of California, Davis. As one who has written frequently about flaws in journal news releases,* I am pleased to hear another voice call for change. Excerpts of his editorial: While [...]

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  • 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 [...]

    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
  • Oct 16 2013

    Journalists addicted to “Oreos as addictive as cocaine” news release

    Vapid news filling the news void.  And when you read the stories, they are strikingly, mindlessly identical.  40 and counting on a web search by 8 a.m. Central time today. “Do you sometimes feel like you’re addicted to Oreos? Well, that might not be as crazy as it seems,” reports a St. Louis TV station. [...]

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  • Oct 4 2013

    The crime of overstating a drug’s benefits in a news release

    David Brown wrote an interesting piece in the Washington Post two weeks ago, “The press-release conviction of a biotech CEO and its impact on scientific research.” Excerpt: “The press release described a clinical trial of interferon gamma-1b (sold as Actimmune) in 330 patients with a rapidly fatal lung disease. What’s unusual is that everyone agrees [...]

    2 Comments
  • Sep 6 2013

    A patient’s perspective on an NIH/NCI news release – a punch in the gut

    The following thoughts were sent to me by Carol Countryman, who had chemotherapy and radiation therapy for Hodgkin’s disease in the early ’70s.  She’s had two mastectomies and last year was diagnosed with delayed-onset myopathy from the radiation – a new disease and very rare.  She says her quality of life “is already a bit [...]

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  • May 30 2013

    To a man with a new hammer….marketing claims of robotic “firsts” piling up

    Health care marketing of robotic surgery systems knows no bounds.  At the end of this piece, you can see a list of past posts on this marketing trend. Besides the explosive use in prostate surgery, we’ve seen promotions of robotic “firsts” for: first robotic cholecystectomy first TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) to treat sleep apnea first [...]

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