In need of scrutiny: Misleading stem cell claims by academic medical centers

While there has been significant news media coverage of proprietary clinics that hawk unproven stem cell “treatments” to vulnerable patients, much less attention has been paid to misleading stem cell claims made by elite academic medical centers. Marketing messages of some top research institutions strongly suggest that certain stem cell therapies benefit patients, when in […]

1 10/31/2017

Industry gifts to doctors are linked to their prescribing … and you

Health care professionals who received gifts from the pharmaceutical industry not only wrote more prescriptions, but also more costly ones (including more brand name medications), than colleagues who did not receive such gifts. That’s the main takeaway from a study published last week looking at the prescription practices of nearly 3,000 healthcare professionals in the District of Columbia […]

6 10/26/2017

Hospitals and doctors: Is their role in soaring health care costs overlooked?

For most of the year now, the story for health care reporters has been the policy drama of repealing and replacing Obamacare. Meanwhile, apart from drug costs, the business side of health care has generated fewer headlines, although its impact on our nation’s economy and quality of life is arguably just as important. I wanted […]


Podcast: Conflicts of interest at World Conference of Science Journalists

Today marks the opening of the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists in San Francisco. Over 1,300 people will be in attendance, and that’s a big number. But there’s an even bigger number that may not get as much attention but really should: The conference is receiving $400,000 from biomedical giant, Johnson & Johnson, and […]

1 10/25/2017

Why health claims about essential oils deserve more scrutiny from journalists

Despite a lack of clinical evidence that they work, essential oils are a booming alternative medicine trend. As explored in a recent New Yorker article, “How essential oils became the cure for our age of anxiety,” they’re being marketed to tense, health-conscious Americans searching for inexpensive “natural” cures. Often used as aromatherapy, essential oils also can […]


Magic mushrooms: Some reporters buy magical notion of ‘reset’ button for depression

Having a bad day? Feeling down? Wouldn’t it be great to just hit a ‘reset’ button? It’s an appealing notion, but a dangerous analogy for journalists to latch on to in reporting about depression. But that’s exactly what’s happened over the past week or so as a host of reporters jumped on very preliminary findings […]


5-star Friday: It’s the little things that can make for great health care journalism

We often cover big topics. Things like health care reform, the drug industry, and conflicts of interest, to name a few. But frequently we find big stories in things that, at first glance, seem minor and trivial, but clearly are not. Several of the 5-star stories we selected below serve as an important reminder that […]


Harvard researchers’ speculative, poop-based sports drink company raises questions about conflicts of interest

If you made a discovery that you thought could lead to a product and had named yourself CEO of a nascent company with plans to commercialize that product, would you have a financial interest in the company? Maybe not, according to Harvard University and its Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. My path to this revelation […]


Sponsored content: Boston Globe + Pfizer = News? Really?

A Pfizer biopharmaceutical scientist reads a letter from the daughter of a woman with Parkinson’s disease. The very real tribulations of the mother, as described by the daughter, are heart-wrenching. The scientist is clearly affected by the real-world devastation of a disease he knows best through his laboratory work. And the effect on the reader/viewer […]


GWU withdraws news release on negative text messaging study, then doubles down on PR spin

On Friday October 6, shortly after our reviewers called its news release about a text messaging study “an exercise in spin,” George Washington University (GWU) withdrew that news release without explanation. The following week, apparently after careful consideration, the news release was re-issued with a one-word change to the original: the addition of the word […]


Tips for Understanding Studies

View More