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Sanofi prostate cancer drug shows 28 percent survival

Rating

2 Star

Sanofi prostate cancer drug shows 28 percent survival

Our Review Summary

 This story is a basic restatement of information from a company spokesperson about the results of a study that have not even been presented, yet alone peer reviewed.  The story didn’t comment at all on the observed tradeoff of 2.4 months in improved median survival versus a 3% higher risk of death from side effects. And, by the way, the headline is inaccurate.  It wasn’t "28 percent survival" but a "28 percent survival advantage" – which still isn’t optimum because such a relative benefit number isn’t nearly as helpful as hearing the absolute numbers.

 

Why This Matters

 This story never defined the patient population being studied.  Prostate cancer is common in men, especially as they get older.  However, not all  prostate cancer requires treatment to decrease the chance of a man dying of prostate cancer.  This story was irresponsible in not mentioning that this was a study of men with advanced prostate cancer – meaning that they already had prostate cancer that had spread beyond the prostate to be eligible to participate in the study.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

 The story included no discussion of costs. If a drug is this far down the pipeline in the EU and the US, somebody has some cost projections.

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

Satisfactory

 The story included the mean overall improvement in survival. But it didn’t comment at all on the tradeoff of 2.4 months in improved median survival versus a 3% higher risk of death from side effects.  A barely satisfactory grade on this.

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

Satisfactory

 The story mentioned that:

  • 4.9 percent of patients using cabazitaxel died from side-effects. Sanofi said this was mainly due to neutropenia, a blood disorder people can get from chemotherapy treatment, and its complications. This compared with 1.9 percent using mitoxantrone.

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

Not Satisfactory

 The story is based on results that have not yet been presented as mentioned by a company spokesperson.  The story made no comment on the limitations of what you can conclude from information given by a company that has not been presented, published or peer reviewed.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

 The story engaged in disease mongering of a sort in that it failed to mention that this drug is being investigated for advanced prostate cancer, meaning metastatic disease, not for early-stage prostate cancer.  Not all prostate cancers are equal and certainly not all become advanced or deadly.

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

Not Satisfactory

 No independent sources were quoted to evaluate the claims made by the drug company.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

 There was no comparison with other approaches other than the single other treatment in the study.  This is an inadequate representation of the options for men managing advanced prostate cancer.

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

Satisfactory

 The story indicated that the drug reported on was not yet approved for use in the EU; it also mentioned that drug is currently scheduled for an expedited review by the US FDA. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Applicable

 Not applicable because no claims of novelty were made.  Conversely, readers didn’t learn anything about what’s different and important about this drug in the way it works – if anything.

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

Not Satisfactory

 Although we could not find a company press release, all of the info comes from a company spokesperson about results of a study yet to be presented.  Is that any different than relying solely or largely on a news release?

Total Score: 3 of 9 Satisfactory

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