Rage against the machine

The Business & Media Institute, whose tag line is “Advancing the Culture of Free Enterprise in America,” has published a new report entitled Prescription For Bias; Networks Downplay Drug Costs,Treat Medicine as Entitlement.

The report criticizes ABC, CBS and NBC for bias against the pharmaceutical industry. In particular, the media are blamed for:

  • Ignoring the industry’s viewpoint
  • Overemphasizing costs to the consumer
  • Not mentioning the name of the company developing the product
  • Not mentioning the cost of drug development
  • Providing too much positive coverage of “Left-Wing” causes such as the morning after pill and the HPV vaccine

The report goes on to tell the networks how to improve their stories.

I hate to break it to BMI, but its report won’t be influential. First, it’s laughably partisan (especially for a report against “bias”) and second, it’s directed at the wrong audience. Rather than telling the networks how to report, BMI should tell the pharma companies how to promote themselves to get better coverage.

Liberal Democrats have taken charge in Congress, and one of the top targets for their anti-business rage has long been the pharmaceutical industry. In their “100 hours” plans, Democrats tried to institute price controls on Medicare prescription drugs. Have their attacks on industry encountered a receptive media?

Yes. The Business & Media Institute (BMI) has found a recurring network news bias against the pharmaceutical industry, treating drugs as an entitlement rather than an expensive-to create product, refusing to credit and often ignoring entirely the companies that made the medicine.

BMI shouldn’t be surprised that the media don’t report the cost of drug development. When new products like computers or cars or software programs hit the market, few people care about development costs. They especially don’t want to hear that high development costs should make them grateful to pay high prices for a new product.

March 14, 2007

One thought on “Rage against the machine”

  1. Thanks for reading the study and linking to it.

    I disagree with your comparison of pharmaceutical products to cars, software, etc.

    Pharmaceutical products are tied into health care and the media have a pro-universal health care bias that pervades coverage. Health care is politically a hot potato as a “rights” issue and that’s where pharma gets hit. Liberals present new pharmaceutical breakthroughs as entitlements to patients, rather than as complex, costly, risky products that need a decent profit margin to sustain and encourage fresh R&D.

    Thanks again for reading my study.


    Ken Shepherd
    Managing Editor
    formerly staff writer
    Business & Media Institute

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