OLD Media Moves

Worried about drug company R&D spending

September 22, 2006

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien took an unusual tack in a recent story by noting that drug company’s research and development spending could be affected by Wal-Mart forcing more generic drugs, noted Ken Shepherd of the Business & Media Institute.

Soledad O'BrienShepherd wrote, “O’Brien’s concern for the drug industry’s ability to fund research for groundbreaking new drugs is a marked departure from standard reporting on the drug industry. In reality, it can cost a drugmaker as much as $800 million just to get a new drug to market, though reporters have overlooked that fact in favor of complaining about pharmaceutical advertising.

“On the February 20 ‘In the Money,’ panelist Jennifer Westhoven repeated the claim from liberal Tufts University’s Dr. Jerome Kassirer that about 90 percent of pharmaceutical marketing ‘goes to wining and dining doctors.’ Westhoven and her panelists ignored the fact that in 2003, the amount spent on direct-to-consumer advertising by members of PhRMA, a pharmaceutical industry group, amounted to only one-tenth of that spent on research and development.

Kassirer even took issue with free drug samples that drug company representatives often leave for physicians to give to patients on a trial basis. ‘Any time you use those free samples, then the doctor gets used to using that particular drug and that raises the cost of care,’ Kassirer complained.

“None of the CNN crew paused to question Kassirer’s logic or whether his opposition to free samples might hurt patients unable to afford prescription medicine.”

Read more here.

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