health

Media Reports on Pharmaceuticals may be Skewed towards Commercial Interests

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 by: Reuben Chow
Tags: pharmaceuticals, health news, Natural News

eTrust Pro Certified

Delicious Pin It
(NaturalNews) 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.

Discussion

Members of the public have the right to expect to be presented with unbiased and objective facts when they read news articles about health and medical research. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be happening, and most certainly not happening enough.

"As a doctor, I am increasingly worried in recent years that company-funded research can't be trusted in the same way that other research can be trusted," said Dr Hochman.

"All of us, doctors, patients, journalists, have gotten into a bad habit of referring to medications by their proprietary brand names. At a philosophical level, I think we need to be referring to them by the generic name. We want to keep commercial interests as much out of the doctor-patient relationship as possible," he added.

Andrew Holtz, independent journalist, former president of the Association of Health Care Journalists, and a former CNN medical correspondent, added to the discussion. "Funding sources should be included in every story where it's relevant," he said.

To be fair, we must take note of one point raised by Holtz Dr Hochman's study itself may be limited because it only looked at news articles which had a length of at least 200 words.

"Two hundred words is not a very long story and I didn't see in the study anything about whether there was a correlation between length of article and how thorough the article was in mentioning funding and generic and brand names," Holtz said. He added that such articles could also have left out other important information, for example the possible drug side effects.

Moving Forward

Dr Hochman admitted that it would be difficult to use generic drug names over their brand names. This is because many of them are unpronounceable, even for experts, let alone laypeople.

"It's a problem but we're not going to change it unless we take the hard step of trying to learn generic names," he said.

The other issue regarding study funds raised by this study had previously already been discussed by peer-reviewed medical journals. Most of those journals now require researchers to reveal their sources of funding.

"News organizations, in my opinion, really should have explicit written policies that they enforce," Dr Hochman said. "We always need to disclose how a medical study is funded. I'm particularly concerned about commercial studies. We have many examples of how company-led research led us astray."

One specific example which Dr Hochman referred to was Vioxx (rofecoxib) a scandal erupted in 2004 when the arthritis drug was taken off the market due to concerns that it affected the heart.

In the meantime, readers may have to exercise extra discretion when reading news articles regarding drug medications, realizing that, even though no mention is made, many studies on them may actually have been funded by pharmaceutical companies themselves.

Main Source

Media Doesn't Often Mention Pharma Funding on Research (http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/hea...)

About the author

Reuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth. His website, All 4 Natural Health, offers a basic guide on natural health information. It details simple, effective and natural ways, such as the use of nutrition, various herbs, herb remedies, supplements and other natural remedies, to deal with various health conditions as well as to attain good health. His other websites also cover topics such as depression help, omega 3 fatty acids, as well as cancer research and information.

Get breaking news alerts on GMOs, fluoride, superfoods, natural cures and more...
Join over four million monthly readers. Email privacy 100% protected. Unsubscribe at any time.


Have comments on this article? Post them here:

comments powered by Disqus

Take Action: Support NaturalNews.com

Email this article to a friend

Permalink to this article:

Reprinting this article: Non-commercial use OK, cite NaturalNews.com with clickable link.

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):
Most Popular
Today | Week | Month | Year

See all Top Headlines...



GET SHOW DETAILS
+ a FREE GIFT

Now Available at ShopNaturalNews.com

O3 Essentials OraJuvenate™
A powerful, cleansing dental cream for maximum oral/dental health.
New Cancer Solutions
Over 3 hours of content covering today’s best cancer tests, how to kill cancer cells and the best diets and exercise routines.
Freeze-Dried 100% Organic Whole Corn
Our freeze-drying method preserves taste, texture and nutrients better than any other food preservation method ever invented.
Fenix TK35 Flashlight
Tough, waterproof, extremely bright and it’s touted to throw an 800+ lumen beam more than 1,000 feet into the night.
Inca Treasure Smoothie Pack
This pack of our four most popular superfoods from South America is the perfect combo pack for smoothie lovers.
Pink Himalayan Salt
This salt delivers significant levels of magnesium, zinc and selenium, with trace levels of dozens of other elements.
Pinhole Glasses - Aviator Style
Pinhole glasses are becoming famous for helping people improve their vision without the risks of laser surgery.
Oxy-Rich Facial Serum
O3 Essentials Jojoba Oxy-Rich Facial Serum is cellular nourishment for your skin. Helps smooth fine lines while enhancing tissue elasticity.
Freeze-Dried 100% Blackberry Halves
Our freeze-dried blackberry halves are grown in Serbia under strict organic standards.

Also on NaturalNews:

Health Ranger Videos
Activist music
CounterThink Cartoons
Food documentaries
FREE Special Reports
Podcasts
Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Most Popular Stories

Flu shot kills 19-year-old, but vaccine industry still has total immunity against lawsuits
Here's a nutty fact: Eating more tree nuts lowers the risk of all-cause death by up to 20 percent
Six important facts you're not being told about lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now clearly a government cover-up: All evidence contradicts official story
10 other companies that use the same Subway yoga mat chemical in their buns
BLM fracking racket exposed! Armed siege and cattle theft from Bundy ranch really about fracking leases
High-dose vitamin C injections shown to annihilate cancer
U.S. treating meat with ammonia, bleach and antibiotics to kill the '24-hour sickness'
USDA to allow U.S. to be overrun with contaminated chicken from China
Vaccine fraud exposed: Measles and mumps making a huge comeback because vaccines are designed to fail, say Merck virologists
Battle for humanity nearly lost: global food supply deliberately engineered to end life, not nourish it
Diet soda, aspartame linked to premature deaths in women

25 Amazing Facts About Food

This FREE downloadable report unveils a collection of astonishing and little-known facts about the food we eat very day. Click here to read it now...

 

Resveratrol and its Effects on Human Health and Longevity - Myth or Miracle.

Unlock the secrets of cellular health with the "miracle" nutrient Resveratrol Click here to read it now...

 

Nutrition Can Save America

FREE online report shows how we can save America through a nutrition health care revolution. "Eating healthy is patriotic!" Click here to read it now...

The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D

In this exclusive interview, Dr. Michael Holick reveals fascinating facts on how vitamin D is created and used in the human body to ward off chronic diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, mental disorders and more. Click here to read it now...

Vaccines: Get the Full Story

The International Medical Council on Vaccination has released, exclusively through NaturalNews.com, a groundbreaking document containing the signatures of physicians, brain surgeons and professors, all of which have signed on to a document stating that vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children. Click here to read it now...

Health Ranger Storable Organics

GMO-free, chemical-free foods and superfoods for long-term storage and preparedness. See selection at www.StorableOrganics.com



Recommended Resources On:

Natural News trends
Health Ranger news
Natural News GMOs
Mike Adams tracker
Natural News photos
Natural News Global
Natural News in focus
Natural News connect
Natural News shocking stories
Natural News radar
GMOs
Quackwatch
Vaccines
Health freedom
Dr. Paul Offit

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2014 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

eTrust Pro Certified Android app on Google Play

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source: Alexa.com)

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.