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Arthritis cure: the facts behind the hype

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7270.1232 (Published 11 November 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1232
  1. Rhona MacDonald
  1. BMJ

    On 29 October the Sunday Telegraph published a news story headlined: “Breakthrough as scientists discover the cure for arthritis.” A media frenzy began as both the tabloids and broadsheets picked up the scent of a good story.

    The story was that 18 out of 20 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had not responded to any other treatment showed “dramatic improvement” when treated with a drug that is normally used to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Dr Jonathan Edwards, who carried out the study at University College London, was interviewed for the Sunday Telegraph story, although he was in Philadelphia at the annual conference of the American College of Rheumatology when the story broke.

    The abstract of his study was embargoed for publication in the United States on Monday 30 October, and the study will be published in Rheumatology later this month. In Dr Edwards' absence, suddenly anyone who knew anything about arthritis became the focus of attention. For example, Dr Anthony Clarke, director of the National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, got a call …

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