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Study: Cancer drug may endanger heart

Rating

2 Star

Study: Cancer drug may endanger heart

Our Review Summary

The introduction of Gleevec represented a major advance in the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). This story reports on a study printed in Nature Medicine describing 10 patients who developed heart failure while taking the drug. The authors of the study suggest that this drug needs to be thoroughly evaluated to quantify the magnitude of the heart risk.

This does not adequately describe the nature of the existing evidence, which is very preliminary. Although the story focuses on the heart risks associated with Gleevec, it does not adequately describe the harms of treatment. What other side effects are there? How common are they? How common is heart damage?

Although the main focus of the story is on new reports of toxicity from Gleevec, the story still allowed some promotional claims to enter into the story. (e.g., “Gleevec is a wonderful drug and patients with these diseases need to be on it. It’s a lifesaving drug for sure” and “Novartis said Force’s work does not change ‘the positive benefit/risk ratio of Glivec for thousands of patients being treated for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.’ “) Yet there are no data given to back up these claims of benefit.

The story also does not mention alternative treatments. The story should have explain why Gleevec is consider to be better and provide some perspective as to whether it still would if indeed heart failure is found to be a significant side effect. The story never mentions the cost of Gleevec, which is very expensive. These new reports on side effects may decrease the cost-effectiveness of the drug. Cost should not have been left out of the story.

Furthermore, the story only quotes the author of the study and a statement from Novartis. The story should have quoted other, independent researchers or clinicians who could have provided additional perspectives.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story never mentions the cost of Gleevec, which is very expensive. These new reports on side effects may decrease the cost-effectiveness of the drug. Cost should not have been left out of the story.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the main focus of the story is on new reports of toxicity from Gleevec, the story still allowed some promotional claims to enter into the story. (e.g., “Gleevec is a wonderful drug and patients with these diseases need to be on it. It’s a lifesaving drug for sure” and “Novartis said Force’s work does not change ‘the positive benefit/risk ratio of Glivec for thousands of patients being treated for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.’ “) Yet there are no data given to back up these claims of benefit.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the story focuses on the heart risks associated with Gleevec, it does not adequately describe the harms of treatment. What other side effects are there? How common are they? How common is heart damage?

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not adequately describe the nature of the existing evidence. It does not provide evidence from prior studies on heart failure.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not engage in disease mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story only quotes the author of the study and a statement from Novartis. The story should have quoted other, independent researchers or clinicians who could have provided additional perspectives.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention alternative treatments. The story should have explained why Gleevec is considered to be better and provided some perspective as to whether it still would be if indeed heart failure is found to be a significant side effect.

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

Satisfactory

The availability of the drug is clear in this story.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story states that Gleevec is an existing therapy for leukemia.

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

Not Applicable

There is no way to know if the story relied on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 3 of 9 Satisfactory

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