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Trigger happy? A new spray aims to delay amorous men


2 Star

Trigger happy? A new spray aims to delay amorous men

Our Review Summary

The Wall Street Journal story raised questions about the validity of estimates that 20-30% of men had premature ejaculation.  The MSNBC story, on the other hand, took that estimate at face value (the higher end of the range, in fact) and called it "a real problem." Then it termed the study results "a big improvement."  We far preferred the added balanced info given readers of the WSJ story.


Why This Matters

There’s been a lot of advertising disease-mongering of erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation (or, as marketing people try to drum the labels into us:  ED and PE).  As a drug company prepares to make its case to the FDA to get marketing approval, journalists should apply a bit more balance and scrutiny of the evidence than was seen in this blog entry.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of cost.  If this was based on info given at a company briefing,  you had the folks right there who could have answered this.  What are they projecting?

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

Not Satisfactory

Too simplistic.  It just lumped the findings into one statement: "…the men extended that time to a mean of 3.3 minutes."  The story frames this as "a big improvement" without any input from the volunteers or their partners about whether it actually was.

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

Not Satisfactory

Not one discussion of even one potential harm.

The Wall Street Journal story, by comparison, at least mentioned the side effects found in the studies.

But neither story answered these questions: Are there long term effects from lidocaine exposure that have been found in other studies? Does the body build up resistance to lidocaine? This isn’t a short term problem that can be solved with a few weeks of therapy. It is usually a life long problem, and these stories should have been framed that way both in discussing the benefits and the harms.

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

Not Satisfactory

No evaluation of the quality of the evidence.  No questions raised about study design and the combination of two studies of unknown quality.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

Which tells you more? 

The MSNBC story that says "up to an estimated 30 percent of men" have premature ejaculation.

Or a Wall Street Journal story that says: "Surveys have suggested that as many as 20% to 30% of men may suffer from premature ejaculation, though these figures are often drawn from broadly worded survey questions and may overstate the number of men with significant problems." 

We think the former falls short.

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


The story quoted one urologist who attended the drug company’s briefing on the drug. 

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story says that "Men have tried everything from rubber bands, to masturbation endurance training (yes, really), to taking anti-depressants (because those drugs have a usually unwanted side effect of delayed ejaculation) to prolong their “latency.” "  But that’s the only discussion of alternatives we’re given.  We’re not given the context the Wall Street Journal gave us when it reported:

  • "The field suffered a setback in 2005, when the FDA rejected an application from Johnson & Johnson to market a drug called Priligy; the agency doesn’t typically reveal its reasons for such decisions publicly. To date no treatment has won the FDA’s nod for use in premature ejaculation. The J&J drug, which works similarly to antidepressants such as Prozac, has been approved for use in 12 countries, including Germany and South Korea. A company spokeswoman says Johnson & Johnson is "evaluating its path forward in the U.S." for Priligy. In the U.S., men can try certain antidepressants or numbing creams, which aren’t FDA-approved for premature ejaculation, or work with a sex therapist or psychologist. These are "less-than-perfect alternatives," says Anthony Smith, a urologist at the University of New Mexico who was not involved in the research on PSD502."

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

Not Satisfactory

While a savvy consumer could surmise that the drop is not ready for prime time given its "PSD502" name, the story never clearly stated that it is not FDA approved and not even in the pipeline for marketing approval yet. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story explains that the concept is not new – that the experimental drug is a combination of two common topical painkillers.

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

Not Applicable

Not applicable. It’s unclear to what extent the story was influenced by a news release.

Total Score: 2 of 9 Satisfactory


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