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"Drug holds promise of new first-line AIDS treatment"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 25 Jul 2022

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (1½ stars)

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

Research into a new family of drugs to be unveiled next month at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto is raising hopes that there could soon be another first-line treatment against HIV.

It has been a decade since a breakthrough class of drugs transformed AIDS from a sure death sentence to a chronic disease for thousands of patients. Yet the human immunodeficiency virus has grown ever more resistant to the drugs while other medication classes have been a long time coming.

But Mark Wainberg, director of the McGill AIDS Centre in Montreal and co-host of the coming conference, said: "I think we're really on the cusp of something as momentous as what we saw when the protease inhibitors debuted [in 1996]. I'm very enthused."...

The original article can found in the Media Doctor archives.

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 3 of 10
Availability of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

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

This article highlights a key disconnect between scientific and news values. Researchers will be shouting "show me the evidence" while reading this article. There is the sense that benefit and risk data have not been publicly released. This alone suggests that this article is premature as the study hasn't even been presented at a conference, which is in itself a problematic source of scientific news, let alone been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

However, journalists would likely argue that it is newsworthy to report on a pending drug that may significantly impact the global HIV community.

The key issue here may be timeliness, and the journalist fails to make clear how long patients may have to wait for access to this new drug class. It is possible that the headline writer has misrepresented what the real news hook for this article is - that the International AIDS Conference will be in Toronto next month.

Editors and journalist rightfully focus on medical stories that highlight Canadian research - so what would be really useful here is to have an international researcher comment on the significance of these two studies in the global picture, particularly as there is no discussion of the financial connection between the quoted researchers and the drug company. The problem of course, is that without having publicly presented the research yet, few will have access to the necessary info to provide an independent viewpoint.

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