May 30th, 2012
Reality Check: Do Reporters Spin Trial Results?
Do reporters spin trial results – or do some reporters just not understand the science well enough to report results accurately?
I was thumbing through Nature Reviews/Cardiology when I happened on this headline in the section on Research Highlights: Vorapaxar beneficial in setting of prior MI, but not in patients who have experienced stroke. This long headline caught my attention because I thought that TRA 2P-TIMI 50, the trial that is being reported, was positive at the cost of a substantially higher risk of bleeding.
Vorapaxar is a novel antiplatelet drug that Merck inherited from Schering-Plough. It selectively inhibits the actions of thrombin. TRA 2P-TIMI 50 showed that in patients with a history of MI, stroke or PVD, vorapaxar produced an absolute 1.2% reduction in the composite of death from cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction or stroke – and a 1.7% increase in moderate or severe bleeding and a 0.5% increase in intracranial bleeding.
With the disappointing TRACER study, which showed that in patients with acute coronary syndrome, this drug did not produce a significant reduction in a composite of death from cardiovascular causes, myocardial infarction, stroke, recurrent ischemia with rehospitalization, or urgent coronary revascularization and did significantly increase intracranial bleeding – this drug seems unlikely to garner much support.
In this context, the headline seems to be a little misleading. Is that really the major message from this trial? How do you know which research summaries you can trust? I’d also like to hear from anyone who thinks I misinterpreted this trial.