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BMI Says TV Networks Biased Against Pharma Industry, But There’s More To This Story
Earlier this month, the Business and Media Institute (BMI) released research, "Prescription for Bias," indicating that there is a “recurring networks bias against the pharmaceutical industry.”  BMI charges that TV journalists treat “drugs as an entitlement rather than an expensive to create product, refusing to credit and often ignoring entirely the companies that made the medicine.”  The group is urging the networks to clean up their act by:

-Mentioning the manufacturer: BMI says that journalists should be sure to reference the company when discussing a drug and, where possible, include commentary from company representatives.

-Avoiding extremes:  BMI asserts that TV media tends to portray medicines as “perfect cures” or “dangerous killers.”  Rather than doing this, journalists should “relay the pros and cons of drugs” and tell patients to rely on their physicians for guidance.

-Removing passion:  BMI urges reporters to speak “dispassionately on the role of money in medicine.  [Don’t] just report on the costs of drugs to the consumer, but the costs borne by companies in researching and developing them [i.e., Tufts research indicating that companies spend an average of $800 million on R&D.]”

-Bringing pharma into stories: According to BMI “news consumers gain a fuller perspective on the issue when drug company executives can bring the perspective of the industry to bear.”

After learning about the study, I spoke with Dan Gainor, director of BMI, to discuss the research.  We had a very interesting conversation and I told him my verdict on the study.  Overall, I think many of BMI's recommendations make sense as they represent good journalism.  However, I believe there’s more to this story. 
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A Few Words About The Johnson & Johnson Blogger Dinner
Johnson and Johnson invited a number of bloggers to a private dinner a few days ago in New York City to talk about social media and healthcare/pharmaceutical industry-focused blogs.  Among those attending were Ed Silverman of Pharmalot, Jim Edwards of... Continue Reading
Amy Tenderich Talks About Her New Diabetes Book & "Schools" Health Communicators
America, we have a problem.  Each day, people suffer needlessly because they are not taking basic medical tests that will help them preserve their eyesight and avoid heart attacks and strokes due to diabetes.  According to an April 2006, USA... Continue Reading
Media Is Scrutinizing Pharma-Non-Profit Alliances . . . Again
Today the Boston Globe published a major article in what has become the latest in a growing drumbeat of media coverage focusing on the relationship between non-profits and pharmaceutical companies.  The author of the article, Diedtra Henderson, highlighted how some... Continue Reading
JupiterResearch: In The Future Up To 50% Of Online Users Could Become Health Connectors
Last month, I highlighted the results of a very interesting JupiterResearch study looking at how people use and exchange health content online.  At the time, I said that this research indicates that social media really does matter in healthcare.  Last... Continue Reading
The DTC Divide: Some Black Physicians Back Drug Advertising
According to a recent study (sponsored by Pfizer), direct-to-consumer advertising has fans within the African American physician community.  A survey of 322 members of the National Medical Association (NMA), an African American medical society, reveals that NMA members believe: -DTC... Continue Reading
Mar 8
British Cyberchondriacs Skip Canned Content & Ads, Favor Personal Stories
A new study funded by the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council should be required reading for all those interested in learning how to develop more compelling online health content. According to the BBC, the study, which “examined the... Continue Reading
Mar 6
Columbia Professor Thinks Traditional Influencer Model Is Bunk
Duncan Watts, a sociology professor at Columbia University, is urging marketers to discard current thinking about how individuals influence the masses.  Conventional wisdom holds that in order to spread buzz you have to target people who are influential in their... Continue Reading

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