The online story (we listened to the radio version as well) did some nice things that other stories didn’t do – including providing a direct link to an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine – when many news organizations surprisingly fail to refer to accompanying editorials when they do appear.
This story was a nice little example of how a short radio piece and web article can provide appropriate context on a research story.
No cost was discussed.
Benefits were described but only in relative terms. Half of what? A third of what? We wish absolute data were provided.
Potential harms were listed but not quantified. How often do they occur?
The radio piece didn’t give much information on how the studies were done – and therefore, not much on the quality of the evidence. But the NPR online piece at least offered direct links to both studies and to an editorial – something often overlooked by many news organizations covering studies in journals. For that reason, we give this a satisfactory grade.
There was no disease mongering.
The story used one independent expert source in addition to interviewing one of the study authors.
For a short radio and web piece, the story did a good job of comparing the new drugs with injections (through the story of a patient’s experience) and mentioning the problems with another MS drug Tysbari and mentioning another new oral MS drug that may be approved soon.
The story was clear that the drugs in question are not yet on the market and that "federal regulators may go slowly with the two new drugs."
The story appropriately addressed the novelty of the oral drugs – and added something the AP and LA Times stories did not – about approval of another new oral MS drug that may occur soon.
The story clearly did not rely on a news release.