Compare this story with one published by the Wall Street Journal four days earlier – even before the study was presented at a conference. The tone and the framing were markedly different.
Reuters offered: “proven safe and effective…promising” and even allowed a researcher to predict future uses without any data.
The WSJ, on the other hand, offered: “it isn’t clear if the Absorb device offers a worthwhile tradeoff” and more.
Users of our site have told us they appreciate our cross-media comparisons. This is a classic example of healthy skepticism in one story – perhaps largely because of the presence of an independent expert – and the absence of both in another.
No discussion of costs.
The Wall Street Journal, by comparison, at least reported: “Abbott expects to charge more for the Absorb device than the permanent, medicated stents currently available, which cost around $1,500 to $2,000.”
The story simply stated, “no blood clots were reported among patients who were far enough along in testing to be evaluated.”
Yet the first sentence says the device “has proven safe and effective.”
The story begs a much broader much discussion of what benefits one would hope for from device implantation – and how this study (as the Wall Street Journal reported) raises perhaps more questions than it answers.
The story simply stated: “Abbott said 6.9 percent of patients suffered major cardiac events — including heart attacks — over a 12-month period, which the device maker described as a low rate.” Do independent experts consider that a low rate? We wouldn’t know from the story. And is a 12-month period sufficient to call the device “proven safe and effective” as the opening sentence does?
The story provided only scant explanation of how the study was done and no critical evaluation of the quality of the evidence. It never justifies the first sentence that says the device “has proven safe and effective.” The absence of an independent perspective was felt here as much as anywhere.
No overt disease mongering.
No independent source was quoted. And the story never stated who paid for the study or whether the quoted researcher has any financial ties to the manufacturer.
Any comparison given was a one-sided, conflicted viewpoint, such as that given by the lead researcher:
But here’s how the WSJ story offered a comparison through the eyes of someone not connected with the study:
It’s clear from the story that the device is available in Europe but not in the US.
The relative novelty of the new device is apparent from the story.
Not applicable because we can’t be sure of the extent to which the story relied on a news release. We do know that no independent expert was quoted in the story.