This felt like a hurried attempt to cover a story appearing in the journal, The Lancet. And journalists should not be rushed when reporting about Alzheimer’s Disease. Yet ABC did rush to these conclusions:
Therefore, ABC didn’t establish any justification for calling this a miracle.
The story doesn’t mention anything about costs.
Using the phrase “showed significant improvement in mental tests” does not meet our standard for quantifying benefits. What does this mean?
All drugs have side effects; this story mentioned none.
The story only states that those taking the drug “showed significant improvement in mental tests.” What does that mean? Which tests? How reliable are they? The scales used in such studies – and their significance to activities of daily living – always not in synch.
The story doesn’t commit any overt disease-mongering.
Odd sourcing on this story. We don’t hear from any of the investigators. We only hear from Dr. Sam Gandy of the Alzheimer’s Association. A woman with early Alzheimer’s Disease is interviewed but we can assume that she was not in the trial.
The story only states, “Medicines on the market now do little more than delay the mental decline.” But this study was only a Phase 2 study. It did not compare Dimebon with any of the existing drugs. So no comparison can be made. And that one line was insufficient explanation of what is available and what the harms/benefits of the existing approaches are.
The story doesn’t tell us much about Dimebon – not whether it’s already FDA approved for anything else. Not the fact that it’s also being studied for use in Huntington’s Disease. The accompanying editorial in the Lancet states, “This drug began life as a non-selective antihistamine but was withdrawn when more selective agents became available.”
We aren’t given any sense of the novelty of this approach. Why might an antihistamine work in Alzheimer’s disease? Why didn’t the story mention the drug company’s parallel Huntington Disease studies? Is there a mechanism worth explaining?
We can’t be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release.