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Artificial pancreas would dial up diabetes control


3 Star

Artificial pancreas would dial up diabetes control

Our Review Summary

This story describes the development of "artificial pancreas" technology. Despite a lack of data on safety or efficacy, the story unwisely presumes eventual clinical use and its potential to significantly improve the lives of kids with Type 1 diabetes.

The report would have been stronger if it had followed a few best practices:

  • It should have made clear that the prototype technology may fail, and that other treatments for Type 1 diabetes may overtake it. Pancreas and islet transplants should have been mentioned as other developing treatments. 
  • It should have explored the sources’ potential conflicts of interest, and consulted with other experts less sanguine about the technology.
  • It should have cited at least some early data–there must be some results encouraging enough to justify multiple companies spending money to develop the technologies.

There is nothing wrong with reporting about early research into treatments, especially for a serious disease affecting children. But the story needs to maintain a skeptical distance, and do diligent reporting, to ensure readers get a realistic view of the technology and its promise.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

While the artificial pancreas technology is still in prototype, two elements of it–the insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor–are currently used. As a matter of course, the costs of this technology should be cited. 

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

Not Satisfactory

We are not given a clear sense of how many people have been tested on this technology, but if the story can confidently state that "Experts say the technology will revolutionize treatment of type 1 diabetes and may help people with advanced type 2" then it should be able to cite some data at this point. 

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not explore the possible risks of the developing technology.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not cite any evidence of safety or efficacy of the developing technology. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No overt disease-mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story quotes four medical sources, one of whom is directly linked to a device maker.

But the report fails to note whether any of the other sources, including the central figure, has a financial conflict of interest. A story about a developing technology with potentially significant economic payoff should clarify the status of each source.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story makes clear that the current treatment regimen, even with the two existing hardware devices, is demanding and difficult.

It explains that diet is important to controlling Type 1 diabetes. 


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


The story makes clear that the "artificial pancreas" technology is not available and is likely to be years away from implementation.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story does an excellent job of distinguishing between the existing hardware elements of the "closed-loop" system and the software currently under development.

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


There isn’t any evidence that the story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 5 of 10 Satisfactory


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