11/29/2005

NBC Today show hypes medical technologies

This week the NBC Today Show offers a series the likes of which makes my skin crawl. With 45-million uninsured Americans, the Today Show reports on “Saving Your Life: Modern Medical Miracles.” If a miracle were available but nobody could afford it or access it, would it still be a miracle? Riding the appeal of […]

11/28/2005

How the media caught Tamiflu

A journalist bemoans the lack of skepticism in news coverage of Tamiflu in last week’s edition of the BMJ. “From a bit of a dud to the world’s most sought after drug in the space of six months” is the way the writer describes Tamiflu’s recent fate. “Despite a silly name and a lack of […]

11/16/2005

News director responds to my criticism

Former WFLA-TV Tampa news director Forrest Carr wrote me a long e-mail criticizing my BMJ article of last week, in which I reported my analysis of 3 top TV stations’ performance in covering (or not covering) health care reform or health policy issues in the 2004 election year. It was an exhaustive analysis, in which […]

11/7/2005

Tamiflu hype

There’s been too much hype about the antiviral drug Tamiflu as an answer to stopping an avian flu pandemic. U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt reminded Congress last week that Tamiflu has not yet been proven as a treatment for avian flu, adding, “Any sense that Tamiflu is synonymous with preparedness is wrong.”

11/4/2005

TV news runs from healthcare reform news

See my article in the BMJ this week about the shameful performance of three leading local television stations as they failed to cover health policy issues in any meaningful way in the 2004 election year –- on the local, state, or federal level. I analyzed 10 months or 326 hours of late newscasts on award-winning […]

2 10/30/2005

Another ill-advised use of "cure"

When are journalists and scientists going to learn? “Cure” just isn’t an acceptable term to use in describing test tube research, unless you’re talking about a new way to treat ham. An Associated Press story Friday began: “Scientists at the University of Michigan Medical School are part of a team that has discovered a possible […]

10/21/2005

New Herceptin study > new hype

Herceptin has been used to treat advanced breast cancer, but three New England Journal of Medicine articles this week suggest the drug could work against an aggressive early-stage breast cancer. Some news stories allow researchers (including a National Cancer Institute researcher) to use words like “cure” in describing the drug. Other experts were quoted calling […]

10/12/2005

Tone down the stem cell hype

The University of Minnesota issued a news release this week reading, in part: “For the first time, stem cell researchers at the University of Minnesota have coaxed human embryonic stem cells to create cancer-killing cells in the laboratory, paving the way for future treatments for various types of cancers (or tumors). The research will be […]

10/5/2005

A different kind of awareness for Breast Cancer Month

Canadian drug policy researcher Alan Cassels observes October as breast cancer awareness month by analyzing the hype of breast cancer drug Herceptin. He writes: “The media pushed the glee meter into the red zone, with words like ‘breakthrough,’ ‘wonder drug,’ and ‘impressive advance,’ overblown, laudatory adjectives that I admonish journalism students to strenuously avoid.” Cassels […]

9/19/2005

Incomplete story on digital mammograms

Many news stories on last week’s study on digital mammography in the New England Journal of Medicine were shallow and incomplete. Many ran with a single theme that digital mammograms are 15% to 28% more effective than traditional film mammograms in the detection of breast tumors in women younger than age 50, women with dense […]

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