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Trial for New Lupus Treatment Is Called Promising


4 Star

Trial for New Lupus Treatment Is Called Promising

Our Review Summary

This story reported on Benlysta, a drug currently under investigation for the treatment of lupus. The piece was clear that Benlysta is in phase 3 testing and that application for its use to treat lupus has not yet been filed with the FDA.  Benlysta is a medication that will, if approved, be used in addition to other lupus treatments.  The story reported that the drug improved symptoms, but never explained which symptoms.

It would have been helpful to include more about which lupus patients could be expected to benefit from this drug as well as the potential risks and side effects that may be incurred from its use.  Comments from clinicians with relevant expertise but without commercial ties would greatly improved the credibility of this report and increased its value to readers.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


The article comments that Benlysta will be far more expensive than current treatments but doesn’t give an order of magnitude. Nonetheless, we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story provided quantitative information about meaningful improvement of symptoms, comparing two doses of the drug with placebo.  However – the story gave no insight about what symptoms it was measuring and whether the difference between the two doses significantly differed from one another.  It should have provided more detail about the nature of the improvements observed.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story did not include any insight about potential harms or side effects that have been seen to date with the use of this drug.

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


The story was clear that the information about this drug comes from a phase 3 clinical trial and that the results have not yet been published or examined by outside experts.

It would have been better for readers if the story had included some insight about the type of symptoms that were monitored and measured as well as the particular subset of patients that were included in the study.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No overt disease mongering.

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


The story included quotes from a company spokesperson, a clinician who is a consultant for the company, and a clinician with expertise in lupus who does not appear to have overt ties with the company.  The story would have been more informative to readers had several clinicians with expertise in treating people with lupus been interviewed as part of this story.  The comments of those involved with drug development or promotion have limited credibility.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story discusses that the medication reported on is used in addition to the typical treatments used for treating lupus.  It did not, however, provide any insight about which segment of the lupus patient population might benefit.  As such, it did not provide readers with sufficient information about when additional treatment with Benlysta might be considered.

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


The story was clear that the drug Benlysta is currently being studied in clinical trials and is not available for use.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The pipeline for effective lupus drugs has indeed been dry for quite a while. The article indicates that this is a novel product of genomic technology.

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


Does not appear to rely exclusively on a press release.

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory


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