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Asthma treatment alternatives promising

Rating

4 Star

Asthma treatment alternatives promising

Our Review Summary

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine evaluated different approaches to the treatment of mild asthma. The goal of the study was to identify the minimum therapy that can be used to manage mild asthma with the fewest negative effects. Adherence to medication for mild asthma is far from optimal for many reasons and the hope is that identifying the least intrusive therapy while maintaing good asthma control will help improve adherence. This story reports on the findings of this study.

The story does a good job of describing the current study and the strength of the available evidence. It also adequately describes the availability of the medications, quantifies the benefits of treatment, and presents the treatment alternatives. (Except that the story set up reduced steroid use as a goal, but then never quantified that result anywhere in the story.) 

The story never mentioned that the current study was only in patients with mild asthma, and the results should not be applied to those with more severe asthma.

Costs of the different treatments are not mentioned in the story. This is a major limitation given the differences in costs between the treatments. Furthermore, because these drugs need to be taken long-term, costs can really add up. Finally, the story only quotes one expert who was an author on the current study. The story should have quoted other independent experts who could have provided more insight on what, if any, impact this new study will have on clinical practice.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Costs of the different treatments are not mentioned in the story. This is a major limitation given the differences in costs between the treatments. Furthermore, because these drugs need to be taken long-term, costs can really add up.

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

Satisfactory

The story adequately quantifies the benefits of the treatment by providing actual percentages of patients having treatment failure with the different medications. However, the story should have been more clear that the study was only in patients with mild asthma. The same results should not be applied to those with more severe asthma.

The story also set up reduced steroid use as one of the major benefits, but it never quantified this anywhere in the story. 

Nonethless, we'll give it the benefit of the doubt on this criterion. 

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

Not Satisfactory

The story fails to list the specific harms of inhaled steroid use, which are not the same as those from steroids in pill form.

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

Satisfactory

The story adequately describes the design and strength of the current study. However, the story should have been more clear that the study was only in patients with mild asthma. The same results should not be applied to those with more severe asthma.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

No overt disease-mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story only quotes one expert who was an author on the current study. The story should have quoted other, independent experts who could have provided more insight on what, if any, impact this new study will have on clinical practice.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story mentions the inhaled steroid Flovent, the combination inhaler Advair, and the pill Singulair as treatment options.

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

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that inhaled steroids are commonly used and widely available.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that inhaled steroids are not new, but it is less clear if the combination inhaler or the pill (Singulair) are novel approaches to treating asthma. The story should have been more explicit.

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

Not Applicable

We can't be sure if the story relied on a press release as the sole source of information. We do know that the only person quoted was involved in the study. 

Total Score: 6 of 9 Satisfactory

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