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“Hyperbole” in government media releases on new drugs can undermine confidence in NHS, says editor

BMJ 2022; 378 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.o2341 (Published 28 September 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o2341
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. The BMJ

Phrases such as “cutting edge,” “game changing,” and “ground breaking” have no place in the description of new drugs by the government and NHS agencies, a therapeutics specialist and GP has warned.

James Cave, editor in chief of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB), said in an editorial1 that the degree of hyperbole and omission of important information in government press releases and media statements “leaves patients and healthcare professionals with a limited and unbalanced view of a medicine.”

In a letter to the heads of NHS England, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) he referred to a loss of objectivity in statements about new drugs over the past few years. Rather, some statements contained “a degree of hyperbole that might be more associated with an advertising agency.”

Cave added that some of the statements risked flouting regulations on the promotion of …

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