Author Archives: Kerry Dooley Young and Liz Seegert

Avatar photo

About Kerry Dooley Young and Liz Seegert

Kerry Dooley Young is an independent journalist and AHCJ's core topic leader on patient safety. Liz Seegert, based in New York City, is AHCJ’s topic leader on aging.

4 tips for reporting on press releases
about new study results for drugs


Photo courtesy of Eisai Inc.

Many reporters on the health beat face tight deadlines to publish stories based on press releases from the pharmaceutical industry about new study results and regulatory approvals.

Companies understandably want to put the best spin on data in their releases. But it’s our job to put study results in context and inform our audiences about what key information has yet to be revealed.

For this reason, we offer four tips for helping your readers, listeners and viewers get a more complete understanding of cases where incomplete study data is released.

Continue reading

Panel to explore risk factors, management and challenges of Alzheimer’s disease

Photo via pixabay.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) finalized its decision to cover the controversial Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm earlier this month — delighting critics and disappointing many patients and advocates. (Check out Kerry Dooley Young’s three key tips for reporting on this controversial topic.) 

This decision also leaves researchers still working to find a viable treatment for this neurodegenerative disease — which affects an estimated 6.5 million people 65 and older — about 1 in 9 in the U.S. By 2050, that number may grow to 12.7 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or cure Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The changes in brain proteins associated with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is only one piece of the puzzle. We know that other factors including the neighborhoods we live in and racial and ethnic disparities may also affect cognition later in life. What can we do to mitigate these life-long risks, and how can people with the disease and their families live the fullest lives possible without viable treatments or a cure? How can reporters even begin to sort through the myriad press releases that tout this or that “promising” clinical trial and put them in proper context without giving people false hope?

Experts will answer the above questions and provide additional insight on this topic during the “No silver bullet: the complicated facts about Alzheimer’s” panel on Saturday, April 30 at 10:40 a.m. at Health Journalism 2022 in Austin.

Continue reading

Biden’s bid for a nursing home vaccine mandate faces obstacles

Photo: Wyoming National Guard via Flickr

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series about the Biden Administration’s efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among nursing home workers. For the first story see: Federal funds at stake as Biden Administration seeks to require vaccines for nursing home workers

The Biden administration likely will face challenges in trying to implement a planned mandate for COVID-19 vaccinations for staff of nursing homes, despite efforts to portray this proposal as a done deal. Continue reading

Disease-awareness campaigns merit extra scrutiny, experts say

Image by Alvin Gogineni, Genentech via NIH Image Gallery on Flickr

Image by Alvin Gogineni, Genentech via NIH Image Gallery on Flickr

This is part 2 of a package on sponsored disease awareness campaigns and other controversial drug marketing practices, focusing on Biogen’s efforts to build a market for its recently approved drug for Alzheimer’s disease. Check out part 1, which posted on August 4.

Biogen’s marketing campaigns about mild cognitive impairment drew protests from several physicians, but don’t expect federal regulators to more strictly regulate such ads and similar disease-awareness promotions.

Neither the FDA nor the FTC actively monitors claims made in pharmaceutical marketing about medical conditions if the name of a medicine isn’t mentioned. Continue reading

Explaining Biogen’s controversial ‘MCI’ advertising to your audience

New marketing campaigns about forgetfulness and distraction could lead people to seek the costly Aduhelm drug for Alzheimer’s disease even if they haven’t been diagnosed with the condition, several experts have warned.

By working to expand the market of people seeking treatment for mild cognitive impairment,  Biogen could needlessly expose many people to a drug with known risk but as yet unproven potential benefit, some researchers said. (See “Do we all have Alzheimer’s? Drug makers might want you to think so,” Adriane Fugh-Berman and Patricia Bencivenga of Georgetown University, Baltimore Sun, July 16, and “‘When Memory Fades’: Misinformation about Alzheimer’s disease and Aduhelm must be limited,” Madhav Thambisetty of Johns Hopkins University, STAT, July 21.) Continue reading