In this review, we try to offer many constructive suggestions of how the story’s sparse 278 words might have been invested more wisely for the benefit of consumers reading the end product.
For anyone who is concerned about double chins and wants to spend health care dollars on doing something about it, theoretically a drug could offer a less invasive option than surgery. But consumers will need much more information than this story provided to make an informed selection between competing choices.
The story fails to mention any sort of cost to users of ATX-101. Although we acknowledge that manufacturers may have yet to determine a drug’s price prior to FDA approval, this story doesn’t hesitate to offer an estimate about expected sales of the drug. Surely those sales figures must be based on some estimate of cost to the consumer? At the very least, a mention of the average cost for a chin reduction surgery would give readers a comparison to consider.
This story claims that 90% of clinical trial participants maintained a “meaningful reduction of fat after two years.” But how does the story define “meaningful”? And is “reduction of fat” really what’s important to “sufferers” of double chins, or is it satisfaction with their post-treatment appearance? Losing fat probably won’t help much if you still have loose folds of skin flapping below your chin.
No mention — or even inference — of harm appears in the story. However, the manufacturer’s website mentions various common side effects of mild-to-moderate severity with ATX-101. These included “treatment area pain, numbness, bruising, swelling, redness, firmness, itching, burning/prickling sensation and nodules.” The story could also have mentioned that ATX-101 was previously used as part of a two-drug fat dissolving treatment that sparked an FDA warning for adverse effects. More on that context here.
The story provides almost no detail about the nature and design of the trials that form the basis for possible FDA approval of this drug. We know that 1,600 people participated in these studies, but that’s about it. Was it tested against a placebo treatment? If so, what were the differences between the active treatment and placebo groups? News stories covering healthcare or science-related subjects should provide clear and understandable evidence to readers.
Stories about purely cosmetic procedures always bear scrutiny for potential disease mongering. And while this story does nothing egregious, it does ping our radar when it aims itself at people who “suffer” from an “unsightly double chin.” Clearly, there are people with malformed chins who may truly suffer from such a cosmetic deformity, but we submit that the vast majority of double chins out there are a result of age and extra weight. There’s no need to medicalize such people with talk about how much they are “suffering.”
There are no quoted sources at all in the story, much less independent ones. We offer a list of industry-independent experts to help journalists connect with non-conflicted sources.
We’ll give the story a borderline passing grade for mentioning alternatives – i.e. plastic surgery chin procedures — which are said to be growing in popularity. We would have liked to see the story provide some kind of comparison as to how these procedures work in relation to the new drug.
The story notes than an FDA panel will consider the drug on March 9 and that a ruling is expected in May. It does not make false claims or even suggestions as to ATX-101’s ultimate availability.
The story notes that ATX-101, if approved, would be the first injection-based fat reduction treatment able to be used on the chin or jaw areas. However, it does not give readers any of the problematic background on the history of this drug, which was part of a two-drug cocktail previously used off-label to dissolve fat. That cocktail was the subject of an FDA warning for serious adverse effects.
We could find no news release from which this story could have been derived. But because there’s little if any evidence of original reporting, we can’t tell how much this story might have relied on a news release. We’ll rate this not applicable.