The latest wonder drug

The problem with so many ‘wonder drugs’ is that one is prone to wonder drug fatigue. So is the new prostate cancer drug, abiraterone, lauded on so many front pages today the real thing? “Cancer drug could save the lives of 10,000  a year” says the Times, and it’s a big ‘could’. 

It’s a bit unusual for a study containing only 21 patients and which is in the initial stages (phase I) of testing as a treatment to receive such widespread and enthusiastic publicity. Apparently there was a briefing for journalists (not usually the case for releasing research) which probably contributed to just so many headlines. There are, after all, thousands of small studies published in thousands of medical journals across the world ever week. While some of the comments made by some people approached for views on the study are rightly cautious, I am still concerned that there appears to be an awful lot of enthusiasm about a drug that really is still in the initial stages of its assessment. 

The abstract for the paper is here.  And a conflict of interest: I found at least two more things declared as wonder-type-drugs in the papers today, and I don’t believe in wonder drugs.

Margaret McCartney’s Blog

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A forum on healthcare policy and professional issues, by Glasgow-based GP and FT Weekend columnist Margaret McCartney.

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