Why is good news not news?

  • by: |
  • 03/10/2006

Bob Goldberg asks a tough question …

Is it suprising that the return of the MS drug Tysabri was scarcely covered by the mainstream media or that Senator Charles Grassley — who just a week ago was red-faced about the dangers of ADHD drugs — did not hail the fact that a drug demonstrably effective for so many patients was once again available? Media coverage of the withdrawal of Tysabri outweighed the coverage of it’s return by 6-1… and while the articles about the horrors of the drug ran on and on and were on the front page of major papers, those about the FDA advisory panel recommending that it be brought back to market were under a paragraph and tucked into the back of the business section. The New York Times and the Boston Globe were notable and laudatory exceptions to this trend. Shame on the Wall Street Journal for sensationalizing the withdrawal and then consigning its return to a few sentences a year later. “Hate the drug companies” bias persists.

This bias harms patient health and amounts to fear mongering on the part of the media. When editors decide that the return of life enhancing drug is less important than it’s removal from the market — that a public has less of a right to know about the former than the latter — then the legitimacy of the media as an arbiter of what is in the public interest should be openly and vociferously debated. And so should the judgement of the politicians that see the media as their platform.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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