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Open to Interpretation

If a doctor tells a patient that studies have shown that a certain pill can cut the patient's risk of a certain disease in half, would the patient be as willing to take the pill if the doctor said that it cuts the risk of disease from 2 percent to 1 percent, asks The New York Times' Nicholas Bakalar. These are both ways of describing the same data. In a review of studies published in The Cochrane Library, University of Buffalo researchers found that different doctors describe the same data to their patients in different ways, and that the patient's decision relies on how the doctor presents that data, Bakalar says. A doctor describing relative risk reduction, for example — cutting disease risk in half — is more likely to get a patient to take the pill than the doctor describing the absolute risk reduction — the 1 percent drop. "Both patients and doctors viewed a treatment as more effective when presented with its relative risk reduction rather than its absolute risk reduction," Bakalar says. Journalists must also be careful with how they present new studies or data, the researchers add, lest they add to the public's misperception over how impressive a new drug, treatment, or finding really is.

The Scan

Drug Response Variants May Be Distinct in Somatic, Germline Samples

Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.

Breast Cancer Risk Gene Candidates Found by Multi-Ancestry Low-Frequency Variant Analysis

Researchers narrowed in on new and known risk gene candidates with variant profiles for almost 83,500 individuals with breast cancer and 59,199 unaffected controls in Genome Medicine.

Health-Related Quality of Life Gets Boost After Microbiome-Based Treatment for Recurrent C. Diff

A secondary analysis of Phase 3 clinical trial data in JAMA Network Open suggests an investigational oral microbiome-based drug may lead to enhanced quality of life measures.

Study Follows Consequences of Early Confirmatory Trials for Accelerated Approval Indications

Time to traditional approval or withdrawal was shorter when confirmatory trials started prior to accelerated approval, though overall regulatory outcomes remained similar, a JAMA study finds.