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Abbott absorbable stent shows good results


2 Star


Abbott absorbable stent shows good results

Our Review Summary

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.


Why This Matters

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.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

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.”

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

Not Satisfactory

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.

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

Not Satisfactory

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?

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

Not Satisfactory

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.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No overt disease mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

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.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

Any comparison given was a one-sided, conflicted viewpoint, such as that given by the lead researcher:

  • current stents are essentially “cages” that hamper the flexibility of arteries and make them more prone to reclogging as they develop scar tissue and plaque builds up.
  •  Absorb and stents like it will likely be the next generation of stents and ultimately improve outcomes for patients.
  • He said bioresorbable materials have great potential for other uses, particularly for stents to repair the pulmonary arteries and aortas of babies.

But here’s how the WSJ story offered a comparison through the eyes of someone not connected with the study:

  • “it isn’t clear if the Absorb device offers a worthwhile trade-off, said Renu Virmani, president and medical director at the CVPath Institute in Maryland, which researches heart disease. Doctors will have to work harder to pick the right device size and implant it carefully with Absorb, compared with metal stents, she says. They are also thicker than Xience stents at a time companies are touting slender profiles that may leave less surface exposed to passing blood cells that can clot. Absorb hasn’t shown clot-related issues thus far. But its thickness may mean patients can’t quickly get off anticlotting drugs that can carry bleeding risks and complicate care, doctors say.


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


It’s clear from the story that the device is available in Europe but not in the US.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The relative novelty of the new device is apparent from the story.

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

Not Applicable

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.

Total Score: 3 of 9 Satisfactory


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