Cancer Drug, But Not Drug Company, Praised By Networks

     Evening newscasts last night praised a new drug, Tykerb, calling it a possible “lifesaver” for women fighting breast cancer, but none of the reports ever mentioned the company that developed the effective new treatment.

     “A new drug that proved to be so effective so quickly, the approval process was sped up,” praised anchor Katie Couric during the March 13 CBS “Evening News.”

     ABC reporter John McKenzie interviewed cancer patient Marsha Brekke, who told “World News with Charles Gibson” viewers the drug was her last chance. Brekke is one of about 25 percent of patients fighting HER-2 positive metastasized breast cancer.

      According to the reports on the FDA approval, Tykerb can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and as NBC “Nightly News” anchor Campbell Brown said, it gives patients a second option when the drug Herceptin hasn’t worked.

     Despite the positive treatment of Tykerb by all three networks, the media still managed to give the pharmaceutical industry short shrift. None of them even mentioned the company responsible for the breakthrough: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

     According to a press release from GSK, “This approval reflects more than 16 years of research, including more than 60 clinical trials” and other research studies.

     The Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development has estimated that the cost of developing one new drug is $802 million before FDA approval.

     This media exclusion is consistent with Business & Media Institute (BMI) findings from a Special Report released March 14: Prescription for Bias. BMI found the pharmaceutical industry missing from nearly 80 percent of stories about prescription and over-the-counter drugs.