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Potential Parkinson’s Treatment Explored


5 Star

Potential Parkinson’s Treatment Explored

Our Review Summary

Reporters of some business stories we’ve evaluated say that our criteria aren’t fair to or shouldn’t be applied to business stories – that some health care industry business announcements may be incomplete but are still newsworthy.  We have no disagreement with that latter statement.  However, it is the framing of the news coverage at such times that is worth scrutinizing.

This story demonstrated exemplary caution and analysis.  And we hold it up to those who cover the business of health as an example of how you can satisfy most of our criteria – even with a very preliminary business announcement.

Nice job.


Why This Matters

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive degenerative disease. While there are newer treatment options including newer drugs and deep brain stimulation, a definitive treatment remains elusize. Newer approaches, such as the delivery of a treatment directly to the sites in the brain affected by the disease are exciting possibilities. Stories about the development of new treatment approaches should focus on the difficulties and uncertainties as well as the possibilities. This story did a good job of that.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  There was no discussion of costs but that is understandable at this early stage.

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


What we especially appreciated was the tone and the framing of the story.

It didn’t call this idea a treatment.  It called it a “potential treatment.”  It’s not a treatment until it’s been shown to actually treat someone for something.

It used the word “potential” three times in the story.

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

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  No track record to discuss.

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


The story highlighted some of the uncertainties.  For example, it stated:

  • “Seven years ago, Amgen Inc. stopped studying a potential GDNF Parkinson’s treatment delivered with Medtronic equipment because it didn’t appear effective. But Lilly hopes its compound, together with Medtronic’s modernized delivery system, will “overcome some prior technical hurdles.”


  • “At this point it isn’t known whether the treatment would involve short- or long-term infusion, or what specific areas of the brain might be targeted.”

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


There was no disease-mongering in the story.

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

Not Satisfactory

No one truly independent of the Medtronic-Lilly partnership was quoted.  We would have liked to have seen independent expert perspective on the approach.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story at least made brief references to other approaches in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.  We would have liked more substance, but this was adequate given the context of the new announcement.

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


The story makes it clear that the effort “is still many years from yielding a marketable treatment or even starting human testing…The drug may not enter human clinical trials for up to five years.”

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story did an adequate and appropriate job of wrapping this approach into the context of other related research.

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


It’s clear that the story didn’t rely solely on a news release.

Total Score: 7 of 8 Satisfactory


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