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Why ‘approved’ medical devices may not be safe: A new addition to our toolkit

Yesterday we reported that 5 patient deaths linked to gastric weight loss balloon devices actually may be “the tip of the iceberg,” due to weak FDA regulations that don’t require mandatory reporting of complications from healthcare providers. As a result, no one really knows how many patients have died or suffered serious complications after undergoing […]


At least five reported deaths linked to weight loss balloons: Why it may be the ‘tip of the iceberg’

When they were first approved in the summer of 2015, two new gastric balloon devices–the Orbera and ReShape–received widespread news coverage. Sources in news stories welcomed them with “enthusiasm” as a “new opportunity” for people wanting to shed pounds, with one doctor even envisioning them for someone “with an upcoming wedding, or women looking to […]


Podcast #34: Health care costs – ‘a problem hiding in plain sight’

Why are health care costs kept so secret? And medical bills so hard to understand? When you buy a car, book a flight, or put things in your grocery cart, you not only know the price in advance, but you can also shop around for the best price. But for most health care services you […]


STAT becomes 3rd major organization to revise policies after our scrutiny

This afternoon, 12 days after publishing a troubled op-ed praising drug reps by an “author” who later admitted he didn’t write it, STAT revised its policy for those who submit op-eds to the health care news organization.  In so doing, STAT reacted to many of the criticisms we raised in our original criticism on September […]


Worrisome ‘right to try’ legislation may soon become law. Here’s the story that some news outlets missed

Right before Congress adjourned for the August recess, the Senate rushed through “right to try” legislation that its sponsor Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin argued gives terminally ill patients the “right to access treatments that have demonstrated a level of safety and could potentially save their lives.” Johnson was selling hope, a commodity never in short […]

2 9/12/2017

Another ‘breach of trust’ at STAT: patient who praised TV drug ads says pharma PR company asked her to write op-ed

[Editor’s note: In response to our reporting, STAT has updated the patient op-ed that is the subject of this post and revised its policies on authorship and conflict of interest disclosure in its opinion columns. See the addendum at the bottom of this post for details.] The author of a STAT op-ed headlined “You can […]

9 9/12/2017

Most news coverage on new PSA testing study acknowledged costly trade-offs

The major health news story last week was on a re-assessment of prostate cancer screening published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study’s release generated stories in the New York Times, TIME, Consumer Reports, STAT,  ABS-CBN News (Philippines) and the LA Times, among others. The reporting confirms what we already know about the PSA test […]

4 9/7/2017

‘A blow to [STAT’s] credibility’: MD listed as author of op-ed praising drug reps didn’t write it. Ghostwriting/PR influence

[Editor’s note: In response to our reporting, STAT has retracted the flawed op-ed that is the subject of this post and revised its policies on authorship and conflict of interest disclosure in its opinion columns. See here for details.] The physician whom STAT lists as author of a now-retracted op-ed praising the vital role of […]


Headline vs. study: Stem cells ‘slow aging’ and ‘rejuvenate’ old hearts

A 2014 analysis by the Media Insight Project found that about 6 out of 10 Americans admit they did nothing more than scan the headlines in the past week. And that’s just the people that admit it. Then, last summer, French and American researchers found that nearly 60 percent of links shared on social media had never been clicked […]

3 9/5/2017

Tone deaf again on pharma conflict of interest: STAT piece praising drug reps fails to disclose industry payments

[Editor’s note: The STAT article that’s the subject of this post has now been retracted following our investigation showing that the physician listed as the author did not write the piece, and that the content of the article was initially crafted with the assistance of a public relations firm.] I woke up this morning after a […]


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