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Read Original Story

Cholesterol Drugs May Treat Psoriasis

Rating

2 Star

Cholesterol Drugs May Treat Psoriasis

Our Review Summary

This 627 word story attempts to summarize a 404 word abstract submitted at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.  In doing so, it fails to meet even the most simple requirements.  The story fails to note the "study" was a retrospective review of patients and not a prospective trial, fails to discuss confounding variables such as additional treatments for psoriasis and fails to describe the methodological issues associated with the use of non-validated single observer measurement of outcome.  While the story includes some attempts to temper the enthusiasm expressed in the headline, it does so inadequately. 

 

Why This Matters

 The headline and beginning of this story are overly enthusiastic about a long stream of potential benefits from statins.  Stories shouldn’t lump all of this together because the evidence is quite variable and, in this case, quite weak. 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

 There was no discussion of costs.

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

Not Satisfactory

The study reported on failed to find a statistically significant improvement in psoriasis.  Despite this, the story headline, first sentence and overall tenor report about benefit even though this is inappropriate given the study results.   

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

Not Satisfactory

 The story failed to note any of the potential side effects of statins.

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

Not Satisfactory

 While acknowledging that the results reported on were based on a preliminary study and mentioning that the benefit observed was not statistically significant, the rest of the wording of the story was misleading.  The opening line is just plain wrong:  "Once again, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs have been shown to be good for more than the heart."  NO, they haven’t.  Not in this study.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

 The story did not engage in overt disease mongering.

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

Satisfactory

 Independent sources were used to write this story; there was, however,  no information about sources of funding for this research.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

 This story was about the possibility that statin medications have a role for improving psoriasis.  The story did mention that examining whether statins improve psoriasis in the absence of high cholesterol was one area to be explored.  There was no discussion of other medications or medication combinations that may be under study to treat psoriasis and there was no mention of the lack of controls in the retrospective study reported on.

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

Not Satisfactory

While statins are in widespread use, the story never emphasized that statins are not approved for treating psoriasis.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

 The story clealry indicated that it was reporting about a potential for a new benefit that might be associated with the use of statin medications.

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

Satisfactory

 Does not appear to rely exclusively on a news release.

Total Score: 4 of 10 Satisfactory

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