NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine -
Read Original Story

You’d be thinner, but possibly sad


5 Star

You’d be thinner, but possibly sad

Our Review Summary

This is a very good story reporting on the results from a recent trial examining the impact of rimonabant, a cannibinoid receptor inhibitor, on obesity and cardioavscular disease.  The story did a good job reporting on both the benefits of the drug in improving weight and cholesterol as well as the harms of increased numbers of people reporting anxiety and depression.  The story included several quotes from physicians such as the drug is "unlikely ever to be approved" or that it was "nothing but bad news and "I think we need to get back to what really works – exercise and diet." The story was well written and would enable a reader to appreciate the complexity of assessing the impact of a medication.  It was clear, balanced and succinct – the rimonabant portion of the story running less than 600 words. 


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story did not mention the costs for this medication.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story provided information about the magnitude of benefit derived from the use of this drug. 

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The story provided clear information about the harms (anxiety, depression and insomnia) associated with the medication studied.  

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story did a fairly complete job presenting the results of the study it was reporting on.  It mentioned that there was recent buzz generated from a presentation at a meeting but that the study itself had been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story did not engage in overt disease mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


Differing views from a number of clinicians on how the outcomes from the study should/would be interpreted were included in this story. 

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story included a quote from a cardiologist, "I think we need to get back to what really works – exercise and diet."  There was no other mention of treatments besides the highlighted class of medications (cannabinoid receptor inhibitors).  We’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt on this criterion.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story was clear that rimonabant is available in Europe (and therefore available online) but has not been approved for use in the US.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story accurately conveyed the status of this medication – i.e. it is available in Europe but has not been approved by the FDA.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


Did not appear to rely exclusively on a press release.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory


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