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Read Original Story

New Diabetes Drugs Give Double Punch

Rating

2 Star

New Diabetes Drugs Give Double Punch

Our Review Summary

Diabetes is a huge public health problem, but it is also a rapidly evolving field of research. This story reports on the release of clinical trial results of a new class of diabetes drugs at the American Diabetes Association meeting.

Although the story claims that the pills are “experimental” and that the drug companies “hope to win FDA approval to begin selling them by year’s end”, this is not sufficient information on availability. The story should provide more insight about what phase of research the drugs are in and provide some justification for the proposed timeline for approval. Although the story does mention other diabetes drugs, the story does not elaborate on the advantages or disadvantages of the new drugs compared to existing drugs. Ultimately, it is not clear how these new drugs will fit with existing approaches.

Furthermore, iIn several places, the article leaves the reader with the impression that everyone with diabetes needs to have strict blood sugar control (i.e. A1C less than 7%). In reality, there is little data to support this.

The story provides quantification of benefits in relative terms only. (See “absolute vs. relative risk” under “Things you should know about research stories” on the home page of this site.) The story provides quantification of benefits in relative terms only. And it does not give enough details about the impact on weight loss, the amount of weight loss, or if people were able to maintain it. Although the story mentions two trials, the story does not provide adequate information on the strength of the available evidence. The story quotes an American Diabetes Associaiton official saying “The positive effects of the drugs, coupled with fewer of the negatives seen in other diabetes treatments, is what sets them apart.” But it doesn’t adequately explain or quantify those “fewer negatives.” It also says “Side effects of the pills include cold and flulike symptoms and headaches,” but doesn’t give any detail about how often these are seen.

The story does mention that the drugs are expensive, $3 to $6 a day compared to pennies a day for other diabetes drugs. What isn’t clear is whether these new drugs need to be taken in combination with older ones, which obviously increases the cost. The story does quote a vice president of the American Diabetes Association and a Merck employee, but could have quoted other clinicians or researchers who do not have a stake in the claims being made and who could provide some additional perspectives.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story does mention that the drugs are expensive, $3 to $6 a day compared to pennies a day for other diabetes drugs. What isn’t clear is whether these new drugs need to be taken in combination with older ones, which obviously increases the cost.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story provides quantification of benefits in relative terms only. And it does not give enough details about the impact on weight loss, the amount of weight loss, or if people were able to maintain it.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story quotes an American Diabetes Associaiton official saying “The positive effects of the drugs, coupled with fewer of the negatives seen in other diabetes treatments, is what sets them apart.” But it doesn’t adequately explain or quantify those “fewer negatives.” It also says “Side effects of the pills include cold and flulike symptoms and headaches,” but doesn’t give any detail about how often these are seen.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the story mentions two trials, the story does not provide adequate information on the strength of the available evidence.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

In several places, the article leaves the reader with the impression that everyone with diabetes needs to have strict blood sugar control (i.e. A1C less than 7%). In reality, there is little data to support this. This is disease mongering by implying that everyone with diabetes needs to have an A1C less than 7%.

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

Satisfactory

The story does quote a vice president of the American Diabetes Association and a Merck employee. The story could have quoted other clinicians or researchers who do not have a stake in the claims being made and who could provide some additional perspectives. Nonetheless, we’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt and rate it satisfactory here.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story does mention other diabetes drugs, the story does not elaborate on the advantages or disadvantages of the new drugs compared to existing drugs. Ultimately, it is not clear how these new drugs will fit with existing approaches.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the story claims that the pills are “experimental” and that the drug companies “hope to win FDA approval to begin selling them by year’s end”, this is not sufficient information on availability. The story should provide more insight about what phase of research the drugs are in and provide some justification for the proposed timeline for approval.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that these medications are the first in a new class of drugs.

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

Not Applicable

We can’t be sure if the story relied on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 3 of 9 Satisfactory

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