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New melanoma drugs improve chances of survival

Rating

4 Star

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New melanoma drugs improve chances of survival

Our Review Summary

No discussion of drug costs – which are substantial.

And the story didn’t explain, as the New York Times did, that 38% of vemurafenib trial participants had to stop taking the drug or lower the dose because of side effects. And there wasn’t a word about side effects from ipilimumab.

 

Why This Matters

The competing New York Times story used clear restraint in describing the findings:

  • “notable progress”
  • “do not cure”
  • “might add two to several moths to expected lifespans”
  • “To be sure, more than half of patients with metastatic melanoma would not be helped all that much by either drug.”

But this story had none of that.  Instead, readers only read about:

  • “uNPRecedented level of difference”
  • “huge difference…Even if it diminished over time, who cares?”
  • “uNPRecedented time”

A better balance was possible.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of costs – only of potential sales volume.

Isn’t the significant cost of both drugs worth at least one line a story like this?

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

Satisfactory

Adequate job reporting the benefits seen in the two trials.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story mentioned only skin rashes and joint pain from vemurafenib, but the story didn’t explain, as the New York Times did, that 38% of trial participants had to stop taking the drug or lower the dose because of side effects. And there wasn’t a word about side effects from ipilimumab.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

No disease-mongering of melanoma.

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

Satisfactory

One independent source – a panel moderator – and a stock analyst were quoted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story adequately described the comparison data reported in the two studies.

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

Satisfactory

Adequately described. The story appropriately notes that vemurafenib is experimental and Yervoy has been approved for use in the US.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The relative novelty of the two drugs was described.

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

Satisfactory

It’s clear that the story did not rely on a news release.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory

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