This story performed cheerleading for local research in a number of ways. It said the procedure:
But – for the new use described in the story – it’s only been tested in animals.
No discussion of evidence, of costs, of harms. Only anecdotes. Incomplete discussion of alternative options for the problem in question.
A reality check on a story like this: If the research came out of Ann Arbor or Columbus instead of Indianapolis, do you really think it would get this kind of play?
Would it have been covered at all?
If not, why not? And then why is it worthy of such hyperlocal hyperbole just because it did involve an Indianapolis physician?
There was no mention of treatment costs.
No data were given about potential benefits.
There was no discussion of potential harms of this treatment.
There is no evidence presented in this story – only anecdotes. We are told that the use of this material for the treatment of heart failure is currently under study in animals. Even there, readers are not given any mean for assessing how well it is working. Nonetheless, the story states that this material will "revolutionize cardiac care".
This story did not engage in overt disease mongering.
No interview material from independent experts was included in this story.
The story mentioned that the current therapies for heart failure were limited and expensive, including such things as artificial hearts, heart transplants, and left ventricular assist devices. However – it neglected to mention the medical therapy that is available to treat heart failure – which is comparatively not expensive. It also failed to indicate that the treatments mentioned are the current therapies for severe heart failure. There are current therapies for managing heart failure that enable many people to do well.
The treatment highlighted in this piece is about expanding the use of a material already approved for other medical problems as a means for dealing with a variety of problems with heart muscle. So although the piece mentioned that the material was currently being tested in animals for this new purpose, the story blurs this distinction because it goes on to include a quote from a patient in whom the material was used to repair a leak due to valve repair.
So the CorMatrix Extracellular Matrix may be able to solve more problems than it is currently applied to, but we don’t yet know. This means the treatment is available for some medical problems, though not the one highlighted in the story. The story was a little confusing on this one.
It’s clear from the story that researchers are exploring a new use of an existing product.
Does not appear to rely on a press release, although it reads like a marketing piece.