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Millions face risk from drug-coated stents

Rating

3 Star

Millions face risk from drug-coated stents

Our Review Summary

Drug-eluting or drug-coated stents were first introduced in the U.S. in the mid-90s. Ten years later, they have all but replaced traditional stents because of their ability to prevent the clogged artery from closing again. However, new information suggests that these stents may in fact be causing some clots to form. This story reports on this development and does a decent job of explaining the problem, but falls short in explaining the strength of the available evidence and overstating the potential benefits from stenting.

Although the story does describe the clot risk as 2 or 3 percent, the story should have provided more information here, such as, what is the time frame? How often are they fatal? How does this number compare to alternative options?  Furthermore, the story inappropriately suggests that the benefits of stenting include a reduction in heart attacks. By accurately describing the prevalence of stenting, the story avoids disease mongering. However, the story verges on treatment mongering by describing stents as a "life-saving device" and suggesting that they can preventing heart attacks.

The story does not describe the strength of the available evidence on the harms from stenting. Furthermore, the story does not mention medications as an alternative treatment option, nor does the story describe the costs of stenting for an indiviual or relative to the alternatives.

NBC did something good at the conclusion of the story, letters viewers know that there was more information on their partner MSNBC website. When television newscasts don't afford much time to such complex stories, it is wise for them to use their websites in this way.  

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story mentions what a big business there is in stents, it does not describe the costs of stenting to the individual or relative to any alternatives.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the story does describe the clot risk as 2 or 3 percent, the story should have provided more information here, such as, what is the time frame? How often are they fatal? How does this number compare to alternative options? Furthermore, the story inappropriatedly suggests that the benefits of stenting include a reduction in heart attacks.

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

Satisfactory

The story does mention the possibility for stents to cause blood clots.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not describe the strength of the available evidence on the harms from stenting.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

By accurately describing the prevalence of stenting, the story avoids disease mongering. The story verges on treatment mongering by describing stents as a "life-saving device" and suggesting that they can preventing heart attacks.

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

Satisfactory

The story does quote two physicians, albeit with not a lot of depth.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention medications as an alternative treatment option.

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

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that stenting is a common procedure.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that drug-eluting stents are not new.

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

Satisfactory

Because the story used two different expert sources, it is unlikely it relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 6 of 10 Satisfactory

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