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One-a-day pill being tested in S. Florida shows promise in AIDS fight

Rating

2 Star

One-a-day pill being tested in S. Florida shows promise in AIDS fight

Our Review Summary

This is a confusing article, with the title suggesting its focus was a pill taken once a day for treatment of AIDS. The first third of the article provided a frenetic overview of the evolution of AIDS treatments and the last third outlined what was on the horizon in terms of AIDS vaccines. This middle third of the article dealt with an AIDS treatment taken once a day which is currently under consideration by the FDA. It has been tested in a clinical trial that included sites in south Florida, as well as sites around the United States and Europe. It failed to quantify the benefit of the once-a-day treatment and it neglected to mention the harms associated with its use. It did not refer to any source material, so it did not enable readers to obtain more information on any aspect of what was discussed in the article. This article did not adequately cover the subject of its title.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no information given on cost of treatment.

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

Not Satisfactory

Reducing HIV levels in the blood to undetectable levels is not an accurate reporting of the results of the study. The article does mention that the once-a-day dosing regimen is more convenient, however it does not provide any numbers for how much better patient compliance actually was.

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

Not Satisfactory

The article failed to mention the harms associated with treatment. For example, the development of HIV mutations associated with drug resistance was the same with the once-a-day pill as with the treatment it was compared with. Both groups reported a large number of adverse events (63%). In addition, it did not mention the increase in fat deposition in the arms and legs of the individuals in the once-a-day regimen. These are important oversights.

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

Not Satisfactory

Other than mentioning that the patient highlighted in the article has been part of a clinical trial, there is no reference to the trial (what was tested, what were the outcomes, where one could get more information on the trial).

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There are certainly elements of disease-mongering in the story, such as when it says: “The meds have so reduced his level of HIV that it’s undetectable in his blood, although still there.” He and others like him lead very normal lives.”

Nonethless, given the severity of the disease, we’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt and grade it satisfactory.

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

Not Satisfactory

There was information from various people involved in AIDS care or research or from people who were infected with HIV. However, the story failed to give perspectives from leaders in the field. In addition, the title “One-a-day pill being tested in S. Florida shows promise in AIDS fight” could lead one to conclude that the story is about one small clinical study as opposed to Study 934 which involve patients in sites all around the United States and Europe.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The article mentions that the treatment is not appropriate for all patients. The article alludes to some different combinations of drugs used for AIDS management.

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

Not Satisfactory

The article refers to a patient who, it claims, “will be one of the first in the country to get the one-a-day AIDS pill once it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as is expected this summer or fall.” There is no justification for this estimate of approval.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The pill described would represent the first combination therapy for the treatment of HIV that necessitates taking medication only once a day. It is, however, a re-packaging of two existing treatments. The pill detailed in the article combines medications manufactured by two different companies which have joined together for this venture.

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

Satisfactory

Does not appear to use a press release as a primary source, althought it is difficult to tell and there is no reference to where the study is published.

Total Score: 3 of 10 Satisfactory

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