Overall, a solid job of reporting.
There is always the risk of fostering false hope in reporting on Alzheimer’s drug stories. Except for its headline, this story did a very good job of putting the research results into an appropriately cautious context for readers.
Not applicable. It’s understandable that costs wouldn’t be discussed in such early research.
The story adequately described the responses of study participants at different dose levels. And it clearly established that “it’s by no means certain that reducing levels of amyloid plaque would stave off memory loss and other mental declines.”
Other important caveats included:
A strict application of this criterion warrants an unsatisfactory score. HealthDay only discussed “potential for serious side effects” but didn’t report how often they occured.
WebMD, by comparison, gave specifics that two of six patients receiving the highest dose “developed possible findings of vasogenic edema, or fluid collecting in the brain tissue, as well as micro-hemorrhages.”
To its partial credit, HealthDay did discuss several potential side effects, but why not report what was actually observed in the study you’re reporting on?
We applaud how HealthDay placed caveats very high, very early in the story.
No disease mongering of Alzheimer’s disease.
Independent experts perspectives were helpful. Funding by the drug’s manufacturer was disclosed.
The story explained that “There are approximately one dozen therapies, including vaccines, for Alzheimer’s disease that are currently in the pipeline” …and “none are ready for prime time.”
The early, experimental stage of the research was clear in the story.
The story explains that the study was “among the first to show the effects” of the drug in people. Actually, another anti-amyloid drug (bapineuzumab) showed similar findings in a study published in Lancet in 2010. Although there was a 25% reduction in beta amyloid there was no corresponding improvement in function.
The story explains that there are a dozen or so other therapies being investigated.
It’s clear that the story did not rely solely on a news release.