There are several ways to cover FDA approval of a new drug.
You could take the FDA approval itself as gospel and/or take the word of the manufacturer as gospel.
Or you could do independent vetting of the claims and seek independent perspectives on "how big a story is this?"
This story chose the former approach.
We prefer the latter.
A story that doesn’t quantify benefits, doesn’t explain costs (of what is likely to be a costly approach), and doesn’t seek independent expert voices is not first-class health journalism.
No mention of costs. Why not? And, since the drug must be administered every two weeks as an intravenous infusion, cost of delivery could be another substantial issue. (Our medical editor on this story says such biologic infusions tend to cost more than $1,000 per infusion.) How could this be excluded from such a story?
Unsatisfactory. All the story said was "that the drug lowered uric acid levels and reduced deposits of uric acid crystals in joints and soft tissue."
How many people saw a benefit? How much did the drug lower these levels? Was that significant in peoples’ lives? This, again, is where the story could have benefited from an independent perspective.
The story did explain:
There was no discussion of the quality of the evidence and, in fact, minimal discussion of how the research was done at all.
Story explains that "about 3% of the 3 million adults with gout are not helped by conventional therapy." So no disease-mongering here.
Inadequate. We weren’t told who funded the research. And why do we have to hear claims of novelty only from a company president, lifted from a news release? That’s inadequate sourcing.
The company president may say that "Krystexxa is the first-ever and only treatment approved by the FDA for adult patients who suffer with chronic gout that is refractory to conventional therapy" but a good news story would explain:
The story is about new FDA approval of the drug. It notes that the manufacturer expects it to be available by prescription later this year.
The story states: "Krystexxa is the first-ever and only treatment approved by the FDA for adult patients who suffer with chronic gout that is refractory to conventional therapy," Paul Hamelin, RPh, president of Savient Pharmaceuticals, says in a news release."
But why couldn’t we have heard that from an independent expert?
We’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt, but barely.
Unsatisfactory. Both quotes – according to the story itself – came from a news release. Why not do independent reporting on this?