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 […]

9/12/2005

Dumbing down science news

A funny, witty column on medical science news coverage appears in the British paper, The Guardian. The author writes about the three types of science stories: wacky, scare and breakthrough. Their central theme? There is no useful information in most science stories. Read the article to hear the columnist’s ideas on why this happens.

9/5/2005

TIME's heart cover story raises serious ad/news questions

TIME magazine must be very happy with whatever deal it struck with Pfizer for advertising in the September 5, 2005 cover story, “How To Stop A Heart Attack.” But let me count the ways this story and the ads bother me: 1. Inside of the cover story article is a fold-out three-page ad spread for […]

8/31/2005

Is AP Radio inviting fake radio health news?

A friend sent me a notice found on the Bulldog Reporter website, which is designed to help public relations people pitch their stories to journalists. The item was entitled, “AP Radio Welcomes News and Information Related to Healthcare, Eldercare.” It appears to be a clear invitation to PR people to send audio clips along with […]

8/17/2005

Flaws in peer review

The Boston Globe offers a good look at how peer review of medical research by medical journals is not perfect. In the Globe: “Now, after a study that sent reverberations through the medical profession by finding that almost one-third of top research articles have been either contradicted or seriously questioned, some specialists are calling for […]

8/16/2005

Doctor/"reporter" sells cream on QVC

Unbelievable. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a KDKA-TV medical “reporter,” who is a physician, was “peddling Joint Formula 88 joint pain relief cream ($21.90) on QVC.” Worse, if it can get worse, is that the cream is his product. Did anyone talk to this guy about journalism ethics before hiring him? I just spoke to […]

8/15/2005

Nailing a story

Often I criticize health news coverage in this blog. Today, I praise a reporter for nailing a story. Andre Picard of the Toronto Globe and Mail hit a home run with his story, “Be Skeptical About the Herceptin Hype.” Herceptin is a drug intended for certain types of breast cancer. Picard writes: “The most eye-popping […]

8/10/2005

Need facts, not emotion, in disease awareness campaigns

Suddenly lung cancer is a hot topic in newsrooms. Peter Jenning dies one day. The next day Christopher Reeve’s widow announces she has lung cancer. So it is understandable that some well-intentioned “disease awareness” efforts would come forward. But journalists should employ facts and full disclosure when giving attention to such disease awareness campaigns. (The […]

8/9/2005

Selling Sickness

I just finished reading an important new book, “Selling Sickness: How The World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients,” by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels. It documents disease-mongering, how drug companies foster the creation of medical conditions to create markets for their pills, the marketing of fear, the “medicalization” of normal states […]

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