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CNN's "House Call" Makes Some Bad Calls

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You get a half hour on an international news network to report on health news and you use it to:

1. Tell people if you want to avoid the flu, “try to avoid getting too close to sick people.”

2. Feature a doctor who lost 70 pounds by using lots of hot sauce, even though you admit “it doesn’t really have any science behind it.”

3. Promote a “permanent” wrinkle filler, while minimizing evidence – and failing to quantify potential benefits or harms.

That’s what CNN did this weekend with its “House Call With Dr. Sanjay Gupta” program.

The first two were just laughable. The last was more dangeous.

The story described “ArteFill, billed as the first permanent filler.” It said “known side effects are minimal.”

But it’s easy to find the following on the FDA website:

Side effects of ArteFill® include:

* Lumpiness at injection area more than one month after injection
* Persistent swelling or redness
* Increased sensitivity
* Rash, itching more than 48 hours after injection

Let’s let consumers decide if those sound “minimal” or not. The story never mentioned that one of the conditions of FDA approval last fall was that a five-year study for safety be done after approval, a clear sign that reviewers were not convinced that all the evidence on safety was yet in.

Meantime, the story profiled a woman who had the injections: “In less than 30 minutes, (she) was sold. She thought she looked fresh with, if anything, her wallet, not her face, showing fatigue.”

Let’s let consumers decide if this sounded like a news story or a commercial.

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