NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine -

$80,000 to prolong survival by 1.2 months

The Wall Street Journal added to the discussion about cost-effectiveness of cancer drugs reflecting on a commentary in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute estimating that “it would cost $440 billion to extend life by one year for the 550,000 Americans who die annually of cancer.”

Important topic. I’m glad the WSJ addressed it.

But one line bothered me. It read:

“Some countries, like the United Kingdom, agree to pay for expensive drugs only if they meet a certain threshold of efficacy, but no such rationing exists in the U.S.”

A news story that comes right out and labels a demand for proof of efficacy as rationing?

A semantics purist may say that the term applies in this discussion – like restricting or rationing consumption of meat or electricity during war.

But given that any newsroom must realize how the term is used as a heavy-handed piece of rhetoric by those who oppose evidence-based medicine and who oppose health care reform that calls for such evidence, this seems like editorializing.

Good story – but that one word in that one sentence left a bad taste for me. Semantics, word choice and framing matter if you care about public understanding of complex health policy issues.

Despite my red marks on that one section, read the rest of the article (if it’s still available online), which was important enough to be on page one of at least the D section of the printed WSJ, not way back on D4.

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