Feature Medicine and the Media

No “breakthrough” in Alzheimer’s disease

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4474 (Published 16 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4474
  1. Jacqui Wise, journalist, London, UK
  1. jacquiyoung1{at}gmail.com

The trial results were disappointing so why did some of the media call the drug LMTX revolutionary? Jacqui Wise reports

Recently, the UK media published news of a breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with a new tau aggregation inhibitor leuco-methylthioninium (LMTX). Meanwhile newspapers in the United States covering exactly the same clinical trial reported that it was a failure.

In the UK, the Times’s headline was, “Scientists create the first drug to halt Alzheimer’s” while the Telegraph ran with, “Breakthrough as scientists create first drug to halt Alzheimer’s disease.”1 2 The Daily Mail said: “Revolutionary twice-daily pill can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and even trigger ‘extraordinary recoveries.’” It went on to say that the “breakthrough drug” could become available on the NHS within three years.3

However, in the United States the media took a much more critical stance. For example, the New York Times headline was: “Alzheimer’s drug LMTX falters …

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