[Ed. note: Gary Schwitzer is the publisher, chief cook, and bottle washer at HealthNewsReview.org, which evaluates health news reporting, marketing, and public relations according to how accurately they inform the public. This post was submitted as a comment to my post yesterday, "Why medical writers are smarter than business reporters," which I drew from Schwitzer's reporting. I thought this comment was important enough to pull out as a separate post, especially because of the rich links that Schwitzer provides.–Paul Raeburn.]
I've been writing about the apparent different standard for business health stories for years; this Pfizer episode is just the latest in a litany of less than optimal business health stories. Other examples:
- Why do some news stories seem determined to help sell new uses for drugs?
- 4th post in 6 weeks about Star Tribune home cooking for local medical device industry
- This news coverage doesn’t help women with breast cancer
- Another glimpse – this time from Oklahoma – of fawning news of medical technology
- Screen, screen, screen; newspaper keeps area business happy
- We wrote about a Reuters story on Medtronic testing stents for erectile dysfunction. It was an initial feasibility study in 30 men with a company-sponsored investigator as the only source.
- We wrote about a Chicago Tribune story of a local company's pneumonia treatment, featuring the company president's positive assessment of the study.
- We wrote about another Wall Street Journal story that "let a drug company get away with making superiority claims without releasing data."
I could provide more, but you get the picture. A common theme in many of these stories is the failure to include an independent perspective. They are often based on (lifted from) news releases, industry news conferences, or interviews with only company execs. It's the kind of single-source journalism that doesn't work anywhere, anytime. But in health news stories, it's malpractice.