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The Ultimate Diet Pill?


3 Star

The Ultimate Diet Pill?

Our Review Summary

This is a story touting the benefits of a potential new treatment for obesity, the drug rimonabant.  While it does caution about side effects that include anxiety and depression, it does little to fully explore the complexities associated with obesity and its treatment.  The story did not delve into the existing information about this drug, including the high percentage of patients who discontinued its use in clinical trials. Neither harms nor benefits were quantified.  The story mentioned that the drug will likely be approved by the end of the year, however, FDA approval is a complicated process for which accurate predictions are impossible.  The story could have provided a better framework to help readers understand the utility and limitation of this potential new obesity drug.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no estimate provided for the cost of the drug.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the story mentions that the drug may lower blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol, as well as making dieting less painful, there was no estimates for the amount of weight a person might expect to lose or the extent to which these other parameters  (blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol) might be improved.

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


This story did mention concerns about anxiety and depression; how often these occur and whether the drug increases their prevelance are relevant peices of information. It would have been useful to hear how often these side effects occur.

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

Not Satisfactory

There was no mention of clinical evidence.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Applicable

Starting the story with reference to food as being ones 'torture' does have an air of disease mongering.  But the story actually doesn't address the incidence of obesity in this country nor the rise in weight related health conditions, so we can rule it neither satisfactory nor unsatisfactory on disease-mongering. 

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


This story included two quotes from investigators  involved in investigation of this drug.  

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

This story did not include mention of any other approaches to obesity treatment though there certainly are other options.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story mentions that rimonabant has been approved for use in Europe.  When mentioning that the manufacturer hopes for approval by the end of the year, it did not emphasize that the drug is not approved in the U.S., is not available in the U.S. and that it is not possible to predict the timing of FDA approval or whether the FDA will, indeed, approve it. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


This story reports on a prescription medication, rimonabant, for treating obesity that is currently unavailable in the US and if approved, would be new.

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


Because two independent sources were quoted, it is unlikely this story was based solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 4 of 9 Satisfactory


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