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Clot-Busting Drug May Prevent Disability From Mild Stroke

Rating

3 Star

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Clot-Busting Drug May Prevent Disability From Mild Stroke

Our Review Summary

The story never explains its headline that tPA “may prevent disability from mild stroke.”  How often was this seen?  How can you draw that conclusion from the records of 4 people?

This story may have received a generous score of 3 stars but its shortcomings are very difficult to overlook.

 

Why This Matters

Mild stroke is an important health issue.  It deserves more explanation than what was given in this story.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story states that the drug costs about $2,000.

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

Not Satisfactory

No, as in “evidence” above, the benefits in the 4 patients are really never explained.

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

Not Satisfactory

Not good enough.  The story only says the drug isn’t without risks, chiefly brain bleeding.  How often does this occur?  This is a big issue. If even one of the 4 people whose records show they got tPA in this analysis had problems after hospital discharge, that could throw any potential benefit out the window.

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

Not Satisfactory

This is a weakness in the story.

If only 1% of patients (4 in all) in the analysis were given tPA, how can such sweeping recommendations be made?  The story never addressed this.

We do, however, always appreciate the boilerplate language about the limitations of talks given at scientific meetings.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There is no disease-mongering of mild stroke.

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

Satisfactory

One independent source was quoted. But it would have been better if he’d been quoted on the quality of the evidence.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

There is no discussion about alternative approaches for people with mild strokes. At best, the story compared the new treatment (in a sample of 4 patients!) with routine standard of care (unexplained).  The problem is that the story never told us how the 4 patients treated with tPA fared.

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

Satisfactory

The story isn’t crystal clear on the widespread availability of the drug tPA but it can be inferred from the story.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

It’s clear from the story that it would be a relatively novel approach to give tPA to mild stroke patients, since it appears it is hardly ever done now.

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

Satisfactory

It does not appear that the story relied solely on a news release.

Total Score: 6 of 10 Satisfactory

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