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"'Dirt-cheap' drug could prevent thousands of deaths: Researchers"

Calgary Herald

Source: Calgary Herald

Published: 30 Oct 2021

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (3½ stars)

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

WINNIPEG - A $10 generic drug could potentially save thousands of critically ill Canadians from fatal infections, according to a new study by two Winnipeg doctors.

Intensive care physicians Dr. Ryan Zarychanski and Dr. Anand Kumar studied the effect of heparin - a cheap blood thinner that dates back to the 1950s - in intensive-care patients treated for septic shock between 1989 and 2005...

The original article can be found at:

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 7 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information 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 was generally a good story which could use a bit more detail. For example, the article makes reference to an alternative treatment option when it says, "Currently, there is only one drug - other than antibiotics - approved to treat sepsis, and it costs about $10,000 for one patient." Despite this reference, the inquiring minds of the readers are not provided with the name of this costly alternative.

It would also be helpful to know the absolute benefits associated with the heparin treatment. The report does provide the relative risk reduction values, but what about the more-telling absolute risk reduction values? Furthermore, there needs to be some caveats included in the report that explain that this is an observational study as opposed to a randomized control trial (RCT). Readers should be made aware of the impacts that a study design has on the reliability of the results. That being said, it was good to include the fact that the investigators want to further their research and complete a randomized control trial.

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