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Read Original Story

Osteoporosis drug promotes healing of fractures, study finds

Rating

4 Star

Osteoporosis drug promotes healing of fractures, study finds

Our Review Summary

Slow or non-healing fractures are painful, debilitating, and can cause deformity in the long term. They are a source of significant resource utilization from extended hospital or nursing home stays. At February’s Orthopaedic Research Society, researchers presented results from a new study showing that a form of parathyroid hormone, the drug teriparatide, marketed under the name Forteo, is benefitial in promoting the healing of non-healing fractures.

This story reports on the results of that study. The story is careful to describe the indication for the drug as being slow-healing fractures, which represents a small percentage of the overall number of fractures.

The story describes the cost of the drug, which is quite high. However, the story should not have spent so much time describing the potential for the drug to prevent nursing home days without providing evidence to that effect.

The story provides some but not all of the necessary information on the evidence to support the use of this drug. The story mentions that the current study followed 145 patients with unhealed bone fractures taking Forteo but does not mention that there was no control group to compare the results to. Furthermore, the study has not yet been published and the full results have no been reviewed by other experts. These are important caveats that the story should have mentioned when describing the strength of the evidence.

It’s good that the story quantified the percentage of patients who had significant improvement after 3 months on the drug. But it could have been improved by providing more context around these numbers. For example, compared to what percentage without the drug or with some other drug?

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story describes the cost of the drug, which is quite high. The story should not have spent so much time describing the potential for the drug to prevent nursing home days without providing evidence to that effect.

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

Satisfactory

The story quantifies the percentage of patients who had significant improvement after 3 months on the drug. The story could have been improved by providing more context around these numbers. For example, compared to what percentage without the drug or with some other drug?

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

Satisfactory

The story mentions the unpleasantness of injection of the drug as a harm. The story could have described some of the other potential harms, such as infection from injection, dizziness and nausea.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story provides some but not all of the necessary information on the evidence to support the use of this drug. The story mentions that the current study followed 145 patients with unhealed bone fractures taking Forteo but does not mention that there was no control group to compare the results to. Furthermore, the study has not yet been published and the full results have no been reviewed by other experts. These are important caveats that the story should have mentioned when describing the strength of the evidence.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not exaggerate the seriousness or prevalence of non-healing fractures. The story is careful to describe the indication for the drug as being slow-healing fractures, which represents a small percentage of the overall number of fractures.

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

Satisfactory

The story quotes one expert who is not affiliated with the drug company or the current study.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any other treatments for slow healing fractures.

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

Satisfactory

The story does a good job of describing when the drug became available and roughly how many have been treated with it since it was approved.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

Clearly parathyroid hormone injections are not a new idea, however teriparatide, or Forteo, is only recently approved for non-healing fractures.

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

Satisfactory

Because the story used an independent source, it’s clear it didn’t rely solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory

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