But neither story disclosed the conflicts of interest of the principal investigator. It’s difficult sometimes for journalists to dig and find conflicts of interest in those making claims about health care interventions. But when the conflicts are disclosed and published for anyone to see, why would a news story fail to include that information in a story?
And neither story discussed the costs of biolgic drugs in the treatment of psoriasis. These drugs can cost $1,500-2,000/month. We think that any discussion about a new drug should include some comment about costs.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that, in its more aggressive forms, can produce a good deal of discomfort and disfigurement. Treatments to date have improved but a mainstay drug, methotrexate, is limited in its effectiveness and can have some nasty side effects. Biologic drugs such as Stelara, Humira and Enbrel are somewhat more effective but very expensive. So a story about a new drug that appears effective in very early clinical trials is important.
We also would have liked to have seen some comment on the costs of biologic drugs in the treatment of psoriasis. These drugs can cost $1,500-2,000/month. We think that any discussion about a new drug should include some comment about costs
Adequate explanation of what the study showed for potential benefits.
Better than the competing WebMD story, this story quantified the serious infections and explained the two cancer cases seen in the briakinumab group. It also explained that an earlier trial of the drug showed “some unexplained major adverse cardiac events.” This was a more complete explanation than what WebMD provided.
Adequate job explaining the study.
The ending – with quote from the National Psoriasis Foundation spokesman – was apt: “For people living with psoriasis…the message from this study is that ‘dramatic progress has been made from where we were just five years ago.’ ”
We like that; it was measured and responsible and didn’t go beyond the limits of what this study means.
No disease mongering of psoriasis here.
The story did state that Abbott Labs had funded the study and it did get an independent comment from the National Psoriasis Foundation.
But we judge this to be unsatisfactory because the story did not disclose what is clearly disclosed in the journal article – that the principal investigator:
It also didn’t disclose what the journal article disclosed, that Abbott personnel helped write the manuscript and helped with the statistical analyses.
The Statement of Principles of the Association of Health Care Journalists includes these clauses:
As with the “novelty” criterion above, on this point, WebMD’s version of the story was better because it at least reminded readers that “a similar drug, Stelara…was approved by the FDA in 2009.” Neither story wrapped this research into the broader context of other approaches to psoriasis – including non-drug therapies.
The experimental nature of briakinumab was made clear in the story.
On this point, WebMD’s version of the story was better because it at least reminded readers that “a similar drug, Stelara…was approved by the FDA in 2009.”
It’s clear that the story did not rely solely on a news release.