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Drug a New Treatment Option for Diabetic Eye Disease


1 Star

Drug a New Treatment Option for Diabetic Eye Disease

Our Review Summary

Just doesn’t stack up to the other two stories (by WebMD and the New York Times)  we reviewed on this same study.  But it’s tough to stack up when all you’ve done is rewritten a news release.


Why This Matters

When you report from a news release, you’re not going to get into the meat of the real story as the New York Times did on the questions about corporate sponsorship of a clinical trial. 


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Cost isn’t mentioned and in that oversight is perhaps the biggest flaw of the story – that it did not explain – as the New York Times story did – that there are questions about Lucentis vs. a cheaper alternative. From the NYT:

  • Although it is a cancer drug, Avastin is often used off-label for eye diseases because it is far cheaper than Lucentis, costing only $20 to $100 a dose, compared with $2,000 for Lucentis.  Avastin is undercutting sales of Lucentis, which totaled $1.1 billion in the United States last year. Organizers of the trial conceded that a major reason Lucentis was chosen was that Genentech, which is now owned by Roche, agreed to provide the drug free of charge and to contribute $9 million in additional financing — but only if Lucentis were used. “Obviously you can’t underplay $9 million,” said Dr. Ferris of the eye institute, which is part of the part of the National Institutes of Health. But he said there were other factors as well, like a belief that Lucentis might have been the better drug.Dr. Philip J. Rosenfeld, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Miami, said the decision was “clearly a case of pay to play” since Genentech’s money dictated the choice of drugs.

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

Not Satisfactory

Never defines what "substantial improvement in vision" means.

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

Not Satisfactory

None discussed.  The NYT reported: "About 1 percent of those getting Lucentis injections suffered an inflammation of the eye from an infection."

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

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of the quality of the evidence. And the headline and subhead mention only the drug.  This is still being looked at as a drug-and-laser combination.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

Quotes come directly from an American Academy of Opthalmology news release.  No discussion of whether either of the quoted experts has financial ties to the company making the drug – but one of them reported in the study that he had ties to the manufacturer.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

No comparison with the cheaper alternative – part of the important controversy raised in the NYT story.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story never clarifies whether Lucentis is now approved and available.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The story calls it "a new drug."  It’s not. It’s already approved for another eye disease, age-related macular degeneration.

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

Not Satisfactory

Relies totally on a news release.  No sign of independent reporting.

Total Score: 1 of 10 Satisfactory


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