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Superlative Usage of Cancer Drugs Misleads Public Increasing False Hopes

by Reshma Anand on October 30, 2015 at 12:05 PM
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Superlative Usage of Cancer Drugs Misleads Public Increasing False Hopes

What you read about a drug on newspapers, health magazines or even health news channels may not always be true, revealed a new study.

A study published in the Journal JAMA Oncology has analyzed the words used to describe about cancer treatment drugs based on the criteria: name and class of drug, received USFDA approval, underwent human trials, preclinical data and mechanism of drug action. The study was led by Dr. Vinay Prasad, Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health and Science University.

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They found that most superlatives used by the media included "breakthrough," "game changer," "miracle," "cure," "home run," "revolutionary," "transformative," "life saver," "groundbreaking," and "marvel."

They reviewed all the data published between June 21, 2015, and June 25, 2015. Researchers found that the cancer drugs that were described using such superlatives did not receive any approval from US Food and Drug Administration.
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Researchers claimed that media uses such superlatives which at times misleads the public and creates false hopes about the drugs. They found that 94 news articles from 66 distinct news outlets made 97 superlative mentions referring to 36 specific drugs. Around 3 drugs were not even named and most drugs were not tested on humans.

Researches suggested that instead of sugar coating about the cancer drugs, proper information about the drug must be mentioned by the media to the public. Just describing about the drug using superlatives will not do any benefit to the public and will only increase false hopes on the drug.

Reference: Matthew V. Abola, BA1; Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH2,3, JAMA Oncol. Published online October 29, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.3931

Source: Medindia
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