There was an interesting Canadian Press story in the Toronto Star this morning about a recent study that found more than half the press releases and news stories about new medications were based on preliminary research, and almost a third contained no caveats about the limitations of the results.
"They didn't talk about the study limitations and the idea that this is preliminary studies or preliminary data. Almost universally this was not discussed." Dr. Chaim Bell, the study's senior author and an assistant professor of medicine and health policy, management and evaluation at the University of Toronto, told CP.
The study appeared in the the journal Public Library of Science One.
Russell Williams, president of Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, said in a statement that the group hasn't fully reviewed the findings, but noted there are "space limitations" in press releases and pointed out that reporters have other sources for checking for further information or contacts.
On a positive note, the study found that 20 per cent of the news releases described studies published in peer-reviewed journals and 76 per cent talked about adverse effects of the drugs.