We greatly appreciate the work of health news watchdog HealthNewsReview.org.
The group recently reviewed Bloomberg’s coverage of adding a monoclonal antibody drug known as Repatha to statin therapy in people with heart disease.
Note what Health News Review notes in its “Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?”
This is a major shortcoming of the story. It quotes an expert source who says he “loves these drugs” and calls them “lifesaving” — even though they’ve never been shown to prolong survival — and fails to disclose to readers that the source is a paid consultant to Amgen, which makes the drug being reported on. A second source complains about the difficulty of getting insurance coverage for these drugs, but the story again fails to mention that he’s a paid consultant to Regeneron, which makes a competing monoclonal antibody.”
The problem of sources with unrecognized conflicts of interest also frequently pops up in nutrition-focused media stories. It’s not that these voices shouldn’t have a say, but that readers should be aware of any possible conflicts that could be affecting their perspective.