In this issue, we highlight some of our best advice and resources for covering the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, from keeping nursing home residents safe to debunking conspiracy theories (and doesn’t it seem as if there’s a new one each week?)
I received a text from a friend this week with a link to an article about a new drug for COVID-19 that led to “rapid recovery” of “critically ill” patients with COVID-19. “Houston Methodist Hospital is making national headlines after doctors used a new drug to help treat critically ill COVID-19 patients,” the breathless lead began. The last paragraph included this similarly dramatic quote from the drug manufacturer’s CEO in a press release: “No other antiviral agent has demonstrated rapid recovery from viral infection and demonstrated laboratory inhibition of viral replication.”
Along with the article link, my friend had texted, “Reads like a press release.” Continue reading
The Association of Health Care Journalists has secured two recent successes in its ongoing effort to persuade medical societies to allow freelance journalists to use membership in AHCJ as a credential to attend meetings and media briefings.
The Gerontological Society of America and the American Gastroenterological Association have joined the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other organizations that have agreed to recognize professional-category membership in AHCJ as sufficient credential for admission to their meetings. Continue reading
Could an Alzheimer’s drug finally be on the horizon? Possibly ― if the FDA agrees with data from several Biogen clinical trials ― but approval is still far from a sure bet.
The company, on July 9, submitted its biologics license application (BLA) for aducanumab, an investigational treatment for the disease. The submission includes clinical data from Phase 3 EMERGE and ENGAGE studies, as well as the Phase 1B PRIME study. Biogen has requested an accelerated review, potentially putting the medication on a path for a final decision by March 2021. However, data from these Phase 3 trials are not without controversy in the scientific community.
“Aducanumab, a so-called monoclonal antibody designed to target amyloid plaque in the brain, has been one of the most closely watched drugs in development for several years,” according to Bloomberg News. Continue reading
Of all the skills needed for reporting on medical research, it’s hard to think of one more important than being able to read and understand a single medical study. That may sound obvious, but a surprising number of journalists find their way to covering research findings before they have learned how to read the research papers themselves. (I once was one of them!)
I usually give a talk reviewing the basics of this task at the AHCJ conference each year, but this year’s conference unfortunately was among the large meeting casualties of the pandemic. Regardless, learning to read scientific studies is one of those skills where you get better at it the more you try to do it yourself and the more you hear from different people about how they do it. Continue reading
In what seems to be an eternity ago, I wrote about a pair of studies on concussions for Scientific American. The 2013 piece was interesting to write because it covered two studies whose combined findings revealed as much about the gaps in concussion research as they did clinically useful findings.
A few years after that, I wrote about a panel at the 2016 Health Journalism conference on sports concussions that highlighted some of the questions journalists need to consider when writing about this often contentious research. Continue reading