New York Times Piece About Cancer Clinical Trial Misleading
This is my site Written by Alex on February 23, 2010 – 11:55 am   

I wanted so much to like the piece in the New York Times about a clinical trial on a new melanoma drug that is showing extremely promising results. I still want to like it but in all good faith, I can’t. The story does little more than further promote the false and potentially damaging idea that clinical trials are accepted therapeutic options for treating people who are sick. I feel like I have been saying this by rote forever but it bears repeating: Clinical trials are experimentation and are not meant to function as a viable treatment option. This is a crucial point that Amy Harmon’s article, Target Cancer: After Long Fight, Drug Gives Sudden Reprieve, not only misses but actively contradicts.

The subjects in the trial, for instance, are referred to as “patients,” a term that is misleading and plain wrong for anyone enrolled in a trial. Further, the story of Christopher Nelson and his wife’s desperation to become enrolled in the trial and his subsequent benefits from the experimental drug read more like something out of  TV movie than an objective, informative look at how a trial works. Providing cheap drama – complete with a cliffhanger at the end – appears to have been the purpose behind writing the article instead of providing helpful, accurate information.  The article will probably have hundreds if not thousands of cancer patients running to their computers and phones to try and get into a trial – any trial – because this article has led them to believe trials can provide a cure. Promoting that kind of false hope is not only bad journalism, it’s just plain mean to patients seeking a cure for cancer.

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