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Prostate drug shows promise in early testing

Rating

1 Star

Prostate drug shows promise in early testing

Our Review Summary

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:

  • 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? 
  • What is the significance to the patient of a decline in this chemical in the blood?
  • What harms were found in the trials so far?

A brief web search turned up dozens of stories this week on this announcement.  Many gave far more important details than this AP story.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

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.

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

Not Satisfactory

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.

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

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion about any harms or side effects that may have been associated with the use of MDV3100.

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

Not Satisfactory

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?

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Applicable

The story did not engage in disease mongering; it didn’t discuss the natural history of prostate cancer at all. 

 

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

Not Satisfactory

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.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

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.

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

Satisfactory

The story was clear that the drug that is currently under development for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

  

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

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.

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

Not Applicable

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

Total Score: 1 of 7 Satisfactory

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