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“Artificial pancreas” for some diabetics


1 Star

“Artificial pancreas” for some diabetics

Our Review Summary

This story reported on a so-called "artificial pancreas," but gave no real evidence of what has been found in clinical trials so far. Indeed, similar research has been going on for 20 years, so the story should have established what is truly new, different and promising – backed up by evidience.  Instead, it referred to this as one in a series of "medical miracles" without establishing quantifiable benefit.  

The story was not improved by the anchor’s gushing proclamations, such as: 

  • "How life-changing was it for you when you tried this thing?"
  • "Wow. Wow.  How much would you love it if this thing actually came on the market?"

This research may, indeed, lead to an important development in the treatment of diabetes.  But this story didn’t deliver any of the evidence to help viewers inform their understanding of the progress in reserach.  


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of the cost of this device, its implantation, or upkeep.   The sensor technology is already available and is quite expensive. 

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

Not Satisfactory

Thin on evidence overall, the story certainly didn’t quanity any benefits of the "artificial pancreas." 

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

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of potential harms of this approach. Patients who wear these still need to do fingersticks periodically.  The biggest risk for harm is that the sensor will be inaccurate and will "tell" the pump to administer the wrong and potentially harmful dose of insulin.  The margin for error for this technology is very low – one reason why it has taken so long to get FDA approval and bring it to market. The story didn’t explain any of this. 

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

Not Satisfactory

There was absolutely no discussion of the evidence coming out of the trials of this device.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


There was no overt disease-mongering about diabetes.

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

Not Satisfactory

While the segment included interviews with two physiciains, both were investigators of the device.  No independent perspective was used. 

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story didn’t discuss any of the other methods for automated glucose analysis and pumps. It also didn’t mention that many patients with Type 1 diabetes have excellent control using current technology and have no need for this new and potentially riskier way to treat diabetes.  The patients interviewed suggest that having Type 1 dictates all aspects of life and happiness.  This is a very dramatic over-statement.  Many people with type 1 diabetes have worked hard taking care of their diabetes in their daily lives and they are not "ruled" by the condition. 

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

Not Satisfactory

Beyond the mention that the device was being tested at The City of Hope Hospital in Los Angeles, there was no mention of availability or of other trial sites. The story said, "The device, if approved, could be available in the next five to ten years."  What is that based on?  Such broad and distant projections are almost useless.  If not approved, it won’t be available. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

Such devices have been investigated for at least 20 years.  This story did not establish what might be truly novel about this approach.

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

Not Applicable

We can’t be sure if the story relied soley or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 1 of 9 Satisfactory


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