How COVID-19 drug/vaccine decisions might be based on little evidence

Everyday we are flooded with a tsunami of news about the race to test COVID-19 vaccines in thousands – tens of thousands – of people. When you hear about such large trials of 30,000 or more, you might be surprised by the following. Today I pause to reflect on the very low level of evidence […]


Perfect storm of politics, PR, polluted messages to the public

That was the title of a seminar presentation I made for the Georgetown University Health and the Public Interest program last week. It was delivered via Zoom for the graduate students in the program and for a broader Zoom audience beyond the University. The co-director of the program, Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, invited me.  She also […]


It has come to this: ignore vaccines-in-animals drug industry PR & news

Earlier this week, a powerful opinion piece, “It Has Come To This:  Ignore the CDC,”  co-authored by former National Institutes of Health director Harold Varmus,  was published in the New York Times. That’s on the science side. On the PR and journalism side, it has come to this:  ignore a lot of the news you […]


Convalescent plasma: another controversial clash of politics & science

You’d need a pretty big, stiff broom to sweep away all of the hype dished out by the Trump Administration as it announced an Emergency Use Authorization for convalescent plasma – the liquid component of blood that may be tapped for disease-fighting antibodies from people who’ve been infected with COVID-19. Before the announcement was even […]


Crazy week of PR & news on studies should teach us how/what to ignore

On Tuesday, it was excitement over vaccine news in 12 monkeys. (Journalism example.) On Wednesday, it was excitement over vaccine news in cells from mice.  (National Institutes of Health PR example.) We’re going down the food chain.  Today is Thursday.  By Friday, we may be getting excited for nematodes that are vaccinated. Let me emphasize: […]


Drug company influence on journalism

Many times through the years, HealthNewsReview.org has criticized the National Press Foundation in Washington, DC, for accepting drug company funding for journalism training.  (See articles from June 2009, July 2009, August 2010, September 2010, October 2010, March 2014, March 2015, December 2015, November 2019. I may have missed a few, but you get the picture.) They’re doing it […]


Things you should think about when you hear “vaccine by end of the year”

On July 27, 2020, the Washington Post reported, Two coronavirus vaccines begin the last phase of testing: 30,000-person trials, wrapping it in historical terms: At 6:45 a.m. Monday, a volunteer in Savannah, Ga., received a shot in the arm and became the first participant in a massive human experiment that will test the effectiveness of an experimental […]


What you need to know about the Alzheimer’s test news

For years, substances called tau protein or beta-amyloid have been theorized to be signs or causes of Alzheimer’s disease.  There have been many reports of tests and treatments based on theories that tau and/or amyloid are at least signs, if not causes, of Alzheimer’s. Scientific uncertainty remains about the precise role of tau and amyloid […]


HealthNewsReview.org in the news about COVID-19

I’ve been asked to do more interviews in the past six months than in any recent comparable time span.  COVID-19 is almost always the reason for the requests. Some of the more recent requests were spawned by the JAMA Viewpoint article, Communicating Science in the Time of a Pandemic, that I co-authored with Richard Saitz, MD, […]


One day of COVID-19 drug & vaccine news provides cautious reminders

Before I even turned on my computer yesterday, the BBC had blared this headline about a trial of the protein interferon beta:The sub-headline read: The preliminary results of a clinical trial suggest a new treatment for Covid-19 reduces the number of patients needing intensive care, according to the UK company that developed it. Eventually some […]


Tips & Resources for Analyzing Health Care Claims

View More