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"Latest study backing COLD-fX is flimsy research"

Vancouver Sun

Source: Vancouver Sun

Published: 12 Apr 2022

Category: Other

Rating: (4½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

The date was Feb. 27, and the scene was the annual general meeting of CV Technologies Inc., the Edmonton-based maker of popular cold and flu remedy COLDfX.
CV Technologies' stock was being buffeted by a lengthy story I wrote - with the help of two professors from the UBC faculty of pharmaceutical sciences - on COLD-fX's most recent trials. Those trials were big selling points for the company, as they were peer-reviewed and published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society and the Canadian Medical Association Journal, respectively.
While acknowledging there was some evidence COLD-fX may have a beneficial effect, the professors expressed concern that the researchers had "mined the data" to find positive results that they did not specifically set out to measure. They were also concerned that the company was selectively using these favourable results to make "misleading" promotional claims. ...

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 9 of 11
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of harms of treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

The ongoing saga of the evidence behind Cold-fx, a treatment containing ginseng that is being heavily marketed on the basis of its strong scientific backing, continues. This article examines new research about the treatment and finds that the evidence is not sufficient to support the company's claims. The article, like others from this media outlet, has been good at examining the quality of the evidence, and the shortcomings such evidence sometimes presents. An important point noted by the author is that the hypothesis a manufacturer is testing needs to be spelled out in advance, so that the subsequent trial can be said to answer the question or not. What often happens is that the study as reported often deviates widely from the original hypothesis.

Media Doctor is glad to see that herbal treatments are undergoing randomized controlled trials, the gold-standard evidence upon which any treatment decision should ultimately rest. At the same time we hope more media outlets start examining the quality of those studies and critically dissecting the evidence underpinning therapeutic claims so that media consumers can get both sides of the story.

A mention of how Cold-fx compares to other forms of cold and flu prevention treatments and more detail on any harms related to the treatment would also help.

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