Should News Media "First, Do No Harm" When It Comes to Covering #Pharma Drugs? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

[DTC in Perspective Chairman Bob Ehrlich says] the media seems to look for stories that show how dangerous prescription drugs can be. They routinely exploit consumer fears by over hyping a bad side effect or a death from a drug. “Deadly drug in your medicine cabinet” seems to be a popular story that is used as a teaser to get viewer attention and boost ratings.

The media seems to disregard the potential harm these stories do to patients who are taking these drugs and stop therapy after seeing the hyped risk story. Then there are those who will be scared to start taking them who would benefit. There was a very good story on Vox on an estimate of British consumers who stopped taking Lipitor. The London School of Hygiene studied the effect of negative media reporting on the use of Lipitor. They estimated 200,000 patients stopped taking the drug and estimated 2000 might suffer heart related events because of it. [See my "Insights" below.]

Drug companies are particular targets of negative coverage. The media seems to be very willing to savage a drug when a death is attributed to one. In the guise of exposing their supposed urgent news, they are in fact scaring people off life saving therapy. They force physicians to field calls from anxious patients asking to be taken off the drug mentioned. Sometimes the media may be right in exposing a bad drug but it happens rarely. Most of the time they over hype the negative leading to bad decisions by patients.