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Where are the mainstream news media on USPSTF coronary risk test story?

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As I predicted yesterday, there has been nary a story on the US Preventive Services Task Force’s new statement that the evidence isn’t in yet on nine ways to look for signs of coronary heart disease in people without symptoms.

Journalists – many of whom sang the praises of at least two of those methods (the CRP test and coronary artery calcium CT scans) – either aren’t aware or don’t care about cautious, evidence-based recommendations from the USPSTF.

The only stories I’ve seen were by the Wall Street Journal health blog and by MedPage Today which did a
story and a blog posting.

On the MedPageToday blog, Peggy Peck wrote:

This is a setback for CRP believers, a group whose numbers swelled significantly when Paul Ridker reported last November that giving “healthy” adults who had hs-CRP of 2.0 mg/L or higher a potent statin for less than 2 years reduced “the rate of MI stroke, arterial revascularization, or cardiovascular death was 44% (P<0.00001)."
Those findings came from the JUPITER trial and when they were announced there were lots of pundits predicting that hs-CRP would become everyone’s favorite test and that maybe it really was time to consider putting statins in the water.

Since last November churning out additional analyses from JUPITER has become something of a cottage industry and some weeks it is difficult to pick up a heart journal or attend a cardiology meeting without being confronted with yet another JUPITER result.

In my opinion it had gotten out-of-hand, so about a month ago I started telling every PR person so sent me the latest breathless JUPITER press release that “I am done with JUPITER.”

But here I am, once again, strumming the JUPITER tune. There’s no escaping it.

Well, there may no escaping it for journalists like Peck.

But almost every other journalist and news organization – so far – has found such news very easy to escape.

It seems to me that when previously highly-promoted approaches are judged to be not ready for prime time by an independent panel with no axe to grind, that’s news.

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dw

October 23, 2009 at 8:38 am

Not surprising there’s no escaping JUPITER with the marketing machinery in place within the pharmaceutical industry. It’s unfortunate that the development of medical treatments has become mostly business since George W. limited government funding for basic science/medical research and forced researchers to turn to private industry for support. Seems to me the mainstream is not thinking critcally and paying attention to who is funding these trials and what their motivations are. I’m not saying we should throw out the baby with bathwater, but I can’t find the evidence from an unbiased source. It has become exceedingly challenging in the past two decades separating the wheat from the chaff with “scientific” studies. It seems we haven’t made any real progress in medicine since the 1980’s when patient safety came before profits.