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Reuters story on new drug for excessive sweating was less informative than the news release

Rating

2 Star

Categories

Dermira's drug for excessive armpit sweating succeeds in key studies

Our Review Summary

Woman sweating very badly under armpit

This is a brief story about two studies of a topical skin treatment for excessive sweating, directed at an investor/financial audience.

The story has several major deficiencies, the most egregious being the lack of any specific, useful details of the new treatment, and the research so far conducted on it. We actually found the drug company’s news release to be more informative.

The story borders on disease mongering as well, since few details are given what makes this condition more than just a variation of a normal state of health.

 

Why This Matters

While it may not be a disease per se, excessive sweating can be an embarrassing condition to live with, and new topical treatments would likely be welcomed by people who want to avoid oral medications, injections or surgery.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

The product is not yet on the market, and is defined as experimental, so we’ll rate this as N/A. But readers would still benefit from seeing the projected steps needed to get on the market, which isn’t made clear here.

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

Not Satisfactory

Not enough detail is contained in the description of the drug’s benefits: “a significant improvement in the severity of sweating was seen in 52.8 percent of the patients treated with the drug, compared with 28.3 percent patients in the control group, on a scale designed by the company. (and 66.1 percent versus 26.9 percent in the control group in the second trial).

How are we to know what this means when we don’t know how “improvement” or “severity” is measured?

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

Not Satisfactory

No harms are mentioned, and given the lack of details on what the topical medication is made of, it would be difficult find out via independent research.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story didn’t include enough information on the quality of the evidence. For example, how valid and reliable is the proprietary scale the drug company created to measure sweating? What are the measurement tool’s limitations? And the studies’ limitations? Also, the story didn’t indicate that this data hasn’t been reviewed by independent experts, nor published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

We’re told in the story that about 3.9 million Americans suffer from excessive underarm sweating. But based on what analysis? What’s the source for that figure, and is it trustworthy?

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

Not Satisfactory

A spokesperson from the company is quoted. However, no independent sources are used.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

Many alternatives are mentioned, and that’s enough to skirt by as Satisfactory.

However, the discussion of alternatives (such as antiperspirants and Botox injections) seems mostly to revolve around pointing out how problematic they are, without any discussion of actual comparative effectiveness, which is a disservice to readers.

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

Satisfactory

We learn it is still in its experimental stages.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story makes no unfounded claims about novelty, and the story makes it clear that an effective topical treatment via wipes would be new for this condition.

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

Not Applicable

The story didn’t appear to rely primarily on the news release, as we don’t see signs of quotes or text being lifted directly without acknowledgment. We’ll rate this N/A.

However, the release does have additional valuable context that we wish had been included (with acknowledgement), such as study details and adverse effects of the medication.

 

Total Score: 3 of 8 Satisfactory

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