The story also should have done more to examine whether the results of this international study are applicable to patients in the United States and other Western countries.
Bleeding from trauma represents a significant cause of death espeicially in developing countries. So, the availability of an inexpensive and easy to administer drug that could reduce blood loss in patients with trauma would be welcomed. The results of a randomized, placebo controlled trial demonstrating the value of such an approach were recently reported in The Lancet. The results of the study are important in both the developed and developing world.
The story notes that TXA is cheap, but we wish it had put a dollar amount on it the way competing coverage did. The cost of the medication was cited in the press release put out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and could easily have been included. "Cheap" is relative. And, pertinent to this issue, what’s "cheap" in the West may not be so cheap in developing countries.
Unlike some competing coverage, this story describes the benefits of TXA in both relative and absolute terms, providing readers with an accurate view of the magnitude of the effect observed in the study. Unfortunately, the story loses this balance when it unquestioningly passes along the claim that TXA could save 100,000 lives in a year if it were used around the globe. While a back-of-the-envelope calculation may suggest that this is possible, many hurdles stand in the way of this drug being universally dispensed for trauma cases worldwide. It’s also far from clear that the findings of this study can be replicated under everyday conditions in emergency departments around the globe. The story should have tapped an expert to help put this pie-in-the-sky figure in a more appropriate context for readers.
The story correctly states that the researchers observed no increase in clots in the patients receiving TXA, earning enough for a satisfactory. However, we wish it had included, as the AP did, a caveat regarding the difficulty of identifying clots in trauma patients who subsequently die.
Similar to the competing coverage from the AP and NPR, this story provided the essentials but lacked sufficient discussion of limitations. To wit: Can a study that includes data from India, China, Nigeria and many other developing countries be generalized to emergency department patients in the United States?
No disease-mongering here.
The story quotes the author of an accompanying editorial who was not affiliated with the study and does not appear to have conflicts regarding the research.
Unlike the competing coverage from the AP and NPR, this story mentions the fact that there are other drugs which help promote clotting and might be useful for trauma patients. The story correctly warns that the benefits of TXA can’t be generalized to other drugs without additional research.
The story notes that TXA is widely available around the world and easily administered.
The story quotes an expert who says that using TXA in trauma patients is a new idea. The approach does appear to be novel.
The story quotes two expert sources, one of whom was not mentioned in the press release issued to promote the study. This is enough to rule out the possibility that the story was based entirely on a release.