Health News Review

This is an example of medical conference reporting that does not educate readers to any significant degree.

Our Review Summary

The story uses numbers willy-nilly without context or clarification.  But because the numbers are big (164%…doubled), they may imply significance – significance that the story never determines.

This story exemplifies how easy it is to simply get it wrong when reporting on study results presented at annual meetings.  The story is incomplete, over emphasizes surrogate endpoints and over-interprets their implications.


Why This Matters

It’s America’s leading killer.  And the story misleads and hypes.  That’s why it matters.


Criteria

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of cost.  Can’t you give us some ballpark of what it costs to offer “IV infusion of ‘good’ cholesterol”?

We appreciate the fact that CSL 112 is in an early stage of development and that costs are not known at the moment.  But shouldn’t some attention be given to the potential impact of a drug that requires IV infusions?

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

In the second sentence, the story states that “The goal of the new treatment is to reduce the high risk of a second heart attack in people who have had a heart attack.”  But it never addressed whether that goal was addressed by the findings reported.

What does it mean for cholesterol removal from the cells of health volunteers to rise 164%?  That sounds whopping.  But what does it mean?

What does it mean for levels of ApoA-1 to double?  Again, sounds impressive.  But does this translate to any clinical benefit?

Come on!  This was a study in 57 healthy volunteers who received a single infusion of CSL 112 and were followed for a short period of time.  Suggesting any benefit is pure speculation

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

It is ludicrous to simply report “There were no serious side effects” when the only data you’ve reported is two hours of observation of healthy volunteers!

First, were there ANY side effects?  If so, what?

Second, how many people with diseased arteries (not healthy volunteers) would have to be treated and followed for how long in order to be able to say ANYTHING meaningful about side effects?

Not Satisfactory

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

While the story included the boilerplate language at the end about this being based on a talk at a conference (which we appreciate), it missed the bigger point and never included any caveat about drawing conclusions from such a tiny, short-term study in healthy volunteers.

Satisfactory

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

No overt disease-mongering.

Satisfactory

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

One independent expert provided the only balance and the only caveat in the story.

Satisfactory

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

Barely satisfactory, as the story at least nodded in the direction of other HDL-boosting drugs.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

Significant omission.  How does one get IV infusions of “good” HDL cholesterol?  Where does one go for this?  Is it only the experimental setting?  You can’t assume that readers know and understand this.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

There was not a word about whether this is the first such research attempt to use IV infusion of HDL cholesterol.

Satisfactory

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

It does not appear that the story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 4 of 10 Satisfactory


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