Coverage by the news media of the benefits and risks of medications

Ray Moynihan, Lisa Bero, Dennis Ross-Degnan, David Henry, Kendall Lee, Judy Watkins, Connie Mah, Stephen B Soumerai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

336 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The news media are an important source of information about new medical treatments, but there is concern that some coverage may be inaccurate and overly enthusiastic.

METHODS: We studied coverage by U.S. news media of the benefits and risks of three medications that are used to prevent major diseases. The medications were pravastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug for the prevention of cardiovascular disease; alendronate, a bisphosphonate for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis; and aspirin, which is used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. We analyzed a systematic probability sample of 180 newspaper articles (60 for each drug) and 27 television reports that appeared between 1994 and 1998.

RESULTS: Of the 207 stories, 83 (40 percent) did not report benefits quantitatively. Of the 124 that did, 103 (83 percent) reported relative benefits only, 3 (2 percent) absolute benefits only, and 18 (15 percent) both absolute and relative benefits. Of the 207 stories, 98 (47 percent) mentioned potential harm to patients, and only 63 (30 percent) mentioned costs. Of the 170 stories citing an expert or a scientific study, 85 (50 percent) cited at least one expert or study with a financial tie to a manufacturer of the drug that had been disclosed in the scientific literature. These ties were disclosed in only 33 (39 percent) of the 85 stories.

CONCLUSIONS: News-media stories about medications may include inadequate or incomplete information about the benefits, risks, and costs of the drugs as well as the financial ties between study groups or experts and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1645-50
Number of pages6
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Volume342
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2000
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Pharmaceutical Preparations
Cardiovascular Diseases
Patient Harm
Literature
Alendronate
Pravastatin
Sampling Studies
Newspapers
Television
Diphosphonates
Aspirin
Osteoporosis
Cost-Benefit Analysis
Cholesterol
Costs and Cost Analysis

Cite this

Moynihan, Ray ; Bero, Lisa ; Ross-Degnan, Dennis ; Henry, David ; Lee, Kendall ; Watkins, Judy ; Mah, Connie ; Soumerai, Stephen B. / Coverage by the news media of the benefits and risks of medications. In: New England Journal of Medicine. 2000 ; Vol. 342, No. 22. pp. 1645-50.
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abstract = "BACKGROUND: The news media are an important source of information about new medical treatments, but there is concern that some coverage may be inaccurate and overly enthusiastic.METHODS: We studied coverage by U.S. news media of the benefits and risks of three medications that are used to prevent major diseases. The medications were pravastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug for the prevention of cardiovascular disease; alendronate, a bisphosphonate for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis; and aspirin, which is used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. We analyzed a systematic probability sample of 180 newspaper articles (60 for each drug) and 27 television reports that appeared between 1994 and 1998.RESULTS: Of the 207 stories, 83 (40 percent) did not report benefits quantitatively. Of the 124 that did, 103 (83 percent) reported relative benefits only, 3 (2 percent) absolute benefits only, and 18 (15 percent) both absolute and relative benefits. Of the 207 stories, 98 (47 percent) mentioned potential harm to patients, and only 63 (30 percent) mentioned costs. Of the 170 stories citing an expert or a scientific study, 85 (50 percent) cited at least one expert or study with a financial tie to a manufacturer of the drug that had been disclosed in the scientific literature. These ties were disclosed in only 33 (39 percent) of the 85 stories.CONCLUSIONS: News-media stories about medications may include inadequate or incomplete information about the benefits, risks, and costs of the drugs as well as the financial ties between study groups or experts and pharmaceutical manufacturers.",
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Moynihan, R, Bero, L, Ross-Degnan, D, Henry, D, Lee, K, Watkins, J, Mah, C & Soumerai, SB 2000, 'Coverage by the news media of the benefits and risks of medications' New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 342, no. 22, pp. 1645-50. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJM200006013422206

Coverage by the news media of the benefits and risks of medications. / Moynihan, Ray; Bero, Lisa; Ross-Degnan, Dennis; Henry, David; Lee, Kendall; Watkins, Judy; Mah, Connie; Soumerai, Stephen B.

In: New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 342, No. 22, 01.06.2000, p. 1645-50.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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T1 - Coverage by the news media of the benefits and risks of medications

AU - Moynihan, Ray

AU - Bero, Lisa

AU - Ross-Degnan, Dennis

AU - Henry, David

AU - Lee, Kendall

AU - Watkins, Judy

AU - Mah, Connie

AU - Soumerai, Stephen B

PY - 2000/6/1

Y1 - 2000/6/1

N2 - BACKGROUND: The news media are an important source of information about new medical treatments, but there is concern that some coverage may be inaccurate and overly enthusiastic.METHODS: We studied coverage by U.S. news media of the benefits and risks of three medications that are used to prevent major diseases. The medications were pravastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug for the prevention of cardiovascular disease; alendronate, a bisphosphonate for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis; and aspirin, which is used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. We analyzed a systematic probability sample of 180 newspaper articles (60 for each drug) and 27 television reports that appeared between 1994 and 1998.RESULTS: Of the 207 stories, 83 (40 percent) did not report benefits quantitatively. Of the 124 that did, 103 (83 percent) reported relative benefits only, 3 (2 percent) absolute benefits only, and 18 (15 percent) both absolute and relative benefits. Of the 207 stories, 98 (47 percent) mentioned potential harm to patients, and only 63 (30 percent) mentioned costs. Of the 170 stories citing an expert or a scientific study, 85 (50 percent) cited at least one expert or study with a financial tie to a manufacturer of the drug that had been disclosed in the scientific literature. These ties were disclosed in only 33 (39 percent) of the 85 stories.CONCLUSIONS: News-media stories about medications may include inadequate or incomplete information about the benefits, risks, and costs of the drugs as well as the financial ties between study groups or experts and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

AB - BACKGROUND: The news media are an important source of information about new medical treatments, but there is concern that some coverage may be inaccurate and overly enthusiastic.METHODS: We studied coverage by U.S. news media of the benefits and risks of three medications that are used to prevent major diseases. The medications were pravastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug for the prevention of cardiovascular disease; alendronate, a bisphosphonate for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis; and aspirin, which is used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. We analyzed a systematic probability sample of 180 newspaper articles (60 for each drug) and 27 television reports that appeared between 1994 and 1998.RESULTS: Of the 207 stories, 83 (40 percent) did not report benefits quantitatively. Of the 124 that did, 103 (83 percent) reported relative benefits only, 3 (2 percent) absolute benefits only, and 18 (15 percent) both absolute and relative benefits. Of the 207 stories, 98 (47 percent) mentioned potential harm to patients, and only 63 (30 percent) mentioned costs. Of the 170 stories citing an expert or a scientific study, 85 (50 percent) cited at least one expert or study with a financial tie to a manufacturer of the drug that had been disclosed in the scientific literature. These ties were disclosed in only 33 (39 percent) of the 85 stories.CONCLUSIONS: News-media stories about medications may include inadequate or incomplete information about the benefits, risks, and costs of the drugs as well as the financial ties between study groups or experts and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

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DO - 10.1056/NEJM200006013422206

M3 - Article

VL - 342

SP - 1645

EP - 1650

JO - New England Journal of Medicine

JF - New England Journal of Medicine

SN - 0028-4793

IS - 22

ER -