1 3/12/2018

LifeVest study results: PR spin machine in full effect at American College of Cardiology meeting

In a remarkable example of PR spin, both the American College of Cardiology and Zoll, a medical devicemaker, issued misleading news releases this weekend trumpeting the results of a study examining the LifeVest, a wearable cardiac defibrillator. The LifeVest, which has been in use for nearly two decades, is sometimes prescribed to recent heart attack […]

9 3/12/2018

News stories about kratom, an herbal ‘opioid alternative,’ wrongly prioritize propaganda over science

Wouldn’t it be great if a safe and readily available plant could help curb opioid addiction? That’s the idea being promoted by a group called the American Kratom Association (AKA), which has been campaigning to block a federal ban of the Southeast Asian herb due to safety concerns. The association — which won’t disclose its […]

1 3/9/2018

Lowering the bar on Alzheimer’s drugs: STAT op-ed takes industry-friendly line, without disclosing author’s pharma ties

A recent op-ed published Monday in STAT insists that proposed FDA guidance for Alzheimer’s drug development is “good news” that “removes unnecessary barriers” to bring new medications to market. If the guidance is finalized, pharmaceutical companies would no longer have to prove that their drugs impact the endpoints of “cognition and function” when tested on […]

4 3/8/2018

Prostate cancer screening: massive study gets minimal coverage. Why?

The largest-ever randomized trial of using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test in asymptomatic men over the age of 50 has found — after about 10 years of follow-up — no significant difference in prostate cancer deaths among men who were screened with a single (“one-off”) PSA test, and those who weren’t screened. The findings come […]


Pharma backing of advocacy groups: a call for transparency

Lawmakers concerned about a mounting opioid crisis are pushing for the pharmaceutical industry to fully disclose their financial influence on patient advocacy groups. Last week Ontario enacted a provincial law requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose payments made to such groups, as well as professional medical societies. This came just two weeks after a U.S. Senate […]


Company pitches memory supplement via spring training giveaways — here’s why we’re not swinging

Major League Baseball players are sharpening their skills this month in Florida’s pre-season Grapefruit League. Meanwhile, Quincy Bioscience, a supplement company, is sharpening its pitch for a chewable supplement that supposedly “improves memory” and “supports clearer thinking.” A free sample of the product, called Prevagen, was handed out to our Publisher, Gary Schwitzer, who was […]


5-Star Friday: Breadth and depth

One of the joys of health care journalism is the breadth — and depth — of what we cover. The stories we’ve chosen below reflect that. They range from economics to ethics. From the art of healing to the art of dying. This is great writing. And we’re happy to acknowledge it. If you agree, […]


Up-and-down coverage of standing desks leaves readers in limbo

Did you know you can get whiplash without even leaving your desk? Just read the headlines about the health effects of standing while you work. For a few years now we’ve been hearing claims about the health benefits of standing at your desk, while being warned that sitting too long can kill you. This week a […]


The DASH diet fights depression? Superficial stories rehash news release on unpublished study

News outlets are trumpeting headlines about a diet that can supposedly improve the public’s mental health. Specifically, the low-sodium DASH diet — recommended by some health authorities to reduce high blood pressure — is claimed by many recent news stories to also reduce the risk of depression: ABC News: Popular diet doesn’t only reduce hypertension, but […]

2 2/28/2018

Drug kills flu in a day, news headlines claim. Here’s why that’s bad for public health

A Wall Street Journal story about a new drug that kills flu in a day certainly sounds exciting: “Japan has approved a drug that its maker says can kill the flu virus in 24 hours, advancing what health experts believe could be a breakthrough in the way the illness is treated,” The Journal reported. The […]


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