Health News Reviewing on HD

From now, you can find all my full-length health news reviews under my Journalism -> Review tab. I will post only my main comments on my home page.

I was again first reviewer for a HealthDay story on Huntington's disease, which covers a phase III drug study that was recently published in The Lancet Neurology.

  • The main problem in the story was its contradictory statements regarding the drug’s benefits. The article stated that a higher dose of pridopidine showed a “significant benefit,” but how significant? Later in the story, an independent source commented that the “benefit is modest.”
  • The story did not mention anything about the researchers’ inability to meet their primary endpoint. The apparent benefits of the drug were found in the tertiary endpoint – a sign that the magnitude of the drug’s effects may be smaller.
  • The article did not detail any research methods from the study. For example, how did researchers measure improvements in motor function?

Why This Matters:

The story highlights the difficulty in deciphering ambiguous medical evidence for the general public. On one hand, the researchers were not able to prove their main hypothesis. But they uncovered benefits in another endpoint that may prove to be promising. The article could have differentiated this evidence and provide a more cautious interpretation of the study’s findings, which could have made for a more thorough and more accurate story. []