This is a 180-word story about a potential new approach for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. The molecule discussed, MDV3100, is poised to enter phase 3 clinical trials and this story is about some preliminary data from the phase 1-2 clinical trial to determine if the drug was safe and tolerable. But important details tend to be left out of 180 word stories such as:
A brief web search turned up dozens of stories this week on this announcement. Many gave far more important details than this AP story.
As the story was about a drug in the process of development, the costs associated with its use are not available at this time. We generally believe that if it’s not too early to report on the potential benefit of a drug in development, then it’s not too early to at least mention potential cost. But this story was so clear on the fact that much research was still to be done that we decide not to rule it unsatisfactory on this criterion.
The benefits, as described in this story, are a decrease in the circulating levels of a chemical in the blood stream that indicate the presence of cancer. It is not entirely clear from this story how this decreased level of ‘chemical’ impacts a man with advanced prostate cancer. While it is true that we must await the results of the phase 3 clinical trial in order to know whether this treatment will enable men to live longer, it is likely of interest to the reader to understand a little bit about the clinical importance of this observation (does it mean less cancer or less tumor growth?) as well as whether it has any effect on the symptoms the individual has.
There was no discussion about any harms or side effects that may have been associated with the use of MDV3100.
The story reported on some early results from the phase 1-2 clinical trials of the drug, currently known as MDV3100. It provided relative results about the levels of what it termed ‘chemicals in the blood that indicate the presence of cancer’.
The results presented were from the first 30 patients in the study, with 13 out of 30 showing declines of more than 50% in the levels of this chemical. What about the other 17 patients? Did they fail to respond at all or was their response simply smaller in magnitude? Additionally – what is the significance to the patient of a decline in this chemical in the blood?
The story did not engage in disease mongering; it didn’t discuss the natural history of prostate cancer at all.
The sources of information are not entirely clear. The story included a quote from one of the principal investigators working on the phase 1-2 clinical trial. No independent experts appear to have been contacted for this story.
MDV3100, the molecule subject of this story, is discussed as an alternative to hormone therapy as an approach to the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. There was no mention of other currently available treatments.
The story was clear that the drug that is currently under development for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.
In this very short story, it was made to sound as though MDV3100 was the first drug used in the treatment of prostate cancer that binds to the hormone receptor. While MDV3100 may be a new molecule being investigated for this purpose, this story did not give nearly the amount of background as given in other stories we saw on this topic.
We can’t be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release.