This segment, which follows the FDA’s announcement of an investigation into a possible link between the asthma/allergy drug Singulair and suicide, falls short of health journalism best practices in two important ways:
It’s worth pointing out that the segment ends with a useful reference to more information at abcnews.com. That article is much more thorough and balanced than this broadcast report.
The price of the medication is not mentioned.
The segment cites the number of people who participated in Singulair’s clinical trails. But it also states that there are "a handful" of reports of suicides and mood changes, and "hundreds" of complaints about serious side effects of Singulair on Internet message boards. This lack of specificity is not satisfactory.
The story is about the alleged harmful side effects of Singulair, so this criterion was clearly established.
Evidence is drawn from the FDA’s investigation announcement and the drugmaker’s statement in response. Both cite clinical trials and anecdotal reports.
The segment also includes an observation about discussions on the Internet. These discussion boards can be valuable or worthless sources of information. There’s not enough information here to know what value they bring to the story.
The story is built around a teenager’s tragic suicide, which followed use of the medication. This plays on viewers’ emotions, inviting them to assume, prematurely, that the drug and suicides are linked.
The story interviews the parents of the young suicide victim and one of the program’s "medical contributors." It also uses an observation about online discussion boards. This is not satisfactory sourcing for a story of this importance.
The segment fails to indicate that there are many other effective treatments available for asthma and allergies.
The segment makes clear that Singulair is widely used and available.
Because Singulair is so widely used, there is no claim made for its novelty.
The segment was triggered by the FDA action, not a company press release.