This story reports that data were presented at a scientific meeting. But it didn’t tell readers what the data showed. But it did allow a company VP – the only person quoted – to say this could be a "breakthrough." Wow.
Menstrual cramps are a very common complaint. For most women there are simple treatments that are highly effective. Anti-inflammatory medications available without prescription (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) have been shown to lessen menstrual pain. Birth control pills can also reduce cramping in many women.
This story reports on a very experimental new drug (so experimental it doesn’t have a name yet) that is designed to block the hormone vasopressin, a hormone that causes contractions of the uterine muscles (which causes cramps and bleeding). However, this story provides very little in the way of balanced, useful information to a woman seeking information on treatments for menstrual cramps. It sensationalizes the "suffering" of women with this condition. It appears to simply repeat the spin of the drug company business development VP rather than doing any actual independent reporting.
Stories that report on new drugs should NOT rely solely on quotes from a drug company VP of business development – kind of a biased view!
Not applicable: costs not discussed, but that’s understandable for such an experimental new drug.
The story provided no data on how well the drug works, despite telling readers that data had been presented at a scientific meeting. What were the results?
The story mentions no potential harms or side effects. Although they may not be known, the story could have highlighted the fact that we don’t know if the drug is safe or not. As the old saying goes "Absence of proof does not equal proof of absence."
The story says that "The researchers presented data from a Phase 2 clinical trial Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco" – but it never tells us what those data showed!!!
Yet it lets a drug company VP get away with saying, "We certainly believe this drug has the potential to be a breakthrough."
The story exaggerates the extent of "suffering" in women with menstrual pain. While it is true that the condition is common and the side effects are bothersome, it is not a severe problem demanding treatment in all women.
The last line of story, "Until then, ladies, you’ll just have to suffer", regarding the fact that the new drug won’t be available for many years, sounds like drug company marketing, raising demand for an uNPRoven product.
The story only quotes a representative of the drug company. That’s no way to cover news about drugs in development.
The story completely misrepresents the efficacy of available options for menstrual pain. Birth control pills and NSAIDS are two effective means of treating menstrual cramps. The story misleads the reader by implying that this new drug is somehow more effective because it treats the "root cause" of the problem, rather than just the symptoms. However, dysmenorrhea is a benign condition that is unlikely to cause any problems other than bothersome symptoms. Treating the symptoms is the ultimate goal of treatment.
The story adequately explains that this drug is experimental and many years away from being approved and distributed.
The story adequately describes the drug as a novel approach to treating menstrual cramps.
If you want to hear how health/medical news is made, watch this news conference from the American Chemical Society http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/5663619. We can’t be sure what the LA Times did to report on the story, but we do know that they only quoted the same drug company VP who appears in this video.