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Healing Power: Using Stem Cells to Build Better Bones


0 Star

Healing Power: Using Stem Cells to Build Better Bones

Our Review Summary

CBS put a crawl under this story reading "Stem cells to build better bones."  And then failed to mention stem cells even one time in the story. 

That’s one indication of how off-base this segment was.

  • No discussion of costs – which are significant.
  • No discussion of evidence, which is limited.
  • No discussion of the source of the information, but we can assume it was a recent study for which there was no control group to compare the results to. Furthermore, that study has not yet been published and the full results have not been reviewed by other experts. These are important caveats that the story should have mentioned.

Instead of data, the segment gushed calling it "godsend…really exciting…very important…could be lifesaving."


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

A huge oversight.  One other news account reported that the drug costs $800 a month.  How could this NOT be part of the story?

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

Not Satisfactory

None.  And segments tend to give the impression that the benefits are universal for anyone taking the drug.  Instead of data, the segment gushed calling it "godsend…really exciting…very important…could be lifesaving."

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

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of harms.  Not even a mention that the drug needs to be given by injection.

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

Not Satisfactory

None. Nada.  Zip.  Just a before-and-after image of one case. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

The medical correspondent notes that the risk of death can be as high as 1 in 4 within a year post major bone fracture.  There is no evidence that the use of Forteo reduces this risk and the definition of a major bone fracture was not provided.  The implication is that there are a lot of major bone fractures in the elderly due to falls, and the use of Forteo could reduce the unsubstantiated risk of death of 1 in 4.

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

Not Satisfactory

Since only a physician-correspondent appeared on the set, citing no evidence and no sources, we don’t know the source of the information.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

No other treatment options for bone healing were discussed.

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

Not Satisfactory

Story explains the drug Forteo was approved by the FDA for use in osteoporosis in 2002 but gives no idea how widely it’s used for bone healing. The story is based on a preliminary report involving 145 patients with poorly healing bone fractures.  Based on the results of this small study, a larger and presumably more confirmatory study is in the planning stages.  But you wouldn’t know that from the story. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

There is no mention of the fact that the drug is being used "off label," an important consideration. The use of Forteo (actually a synthetic version of parathyroid hormone) in fracture healing has been studied for a number of years.  Most of the work has been in animals.

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

Not Applicable

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

Total Score: 0 of 9 Satisfactory


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