Mainstream Media Reporting on Pharmaceutical Drugs Skewed Towards Corporate Interests

Mar 4, 2009 by

Mainstream Media Reporting on Pharmaceutical Drugs Skewed Towards Corporate Interests

If you hadn’t realized by now, the mainstream media is a highly biased and highly censored source of information. It has its “masters”, both political and corporate in nature, to serve.

On television and in magazines, we frequently see advertisements proclaiming the wondrous health benefits of pharmaceutical drugs. But nobody is telling us how many thousands (of people) these drugs are harming and killing each day. Be careful of the media – it is a subtle brainwashing machine. Well, perhaps not so subtle after all.

Media Reports on Pharmaceuticals may be Skewed towards Commercial Interests

by Reuben Chow

We are continually, from time to time, informed about how some supposedly independent researchers had in fact received undisclosed payouts from pharmaceutical companies. In more disconcerting news about the undesirable influence of pharmaceutical companies, a review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that media reporting of studies on drug medications could skew public and medical opinion toward commercial interests.

Two factors contribute to this. Firstly, the mainstream media often fails to report the use of funding provided by drug companies for this kind of research. On top of that, both medical and mainstream reporters tend not to use generic names when referring to specific drug medications, but instead use their brand names.

And the study team found that these shortcomings existed even though the editors involved felt otherwise.

Details of Study

The study team, led by Dr Michael Hochman, a resident physician at Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Mass., had looked at 306 news articles discussing research on drug medications. These articles were sourced from websites as well as United States newspapers, and the studies which were discussed in these news articles had been published in five important medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

At the same time, the study team asked 100 editors from the newspapers with the highest readership in the US about their reporting practices.

Findings of Study

The researchers found that 42% of the news articles failed to disclose the fact that drug medication research had received funding from pharmaceutical companies. Even when they did, it was deep within the article and not prominently stated.

67% of 277 news articles which had reported on drug medications only used the drug’s brand name at least half the time when referring to the medication. According to the study team, each year, up to $9 billion is spent in the US when medical doctors prescribe brand name drugs, even though a generic would have done the job too.

Compare these figures to the perceptions of the editors – about 88% of them had the impression that news articles which they published often or always stated the presence of company funding. Further, some 77% of them thought that their articles referred to drug medications by their generic name.

It is also worth noting that only 3% of the newspapers in question had formal written policies with regard to the disclosure of company funding, while only 2% had such policies with regard to the use of the generic names of drug medications.

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