Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Good Guy-Bad Guy Template Equals Poor Reporting

from page 2 of the Tuesday, May 8, 2007, Oregonian (based on an AP report):


Imported drugs bill is defeated

In a triumph for the pharmaceutical industry, the Senate on Monday killed a drive to allow consumers to buy prescription drugs from abroad at a significant savings over domestic prices.

On a 49-40 vote, the Senate required the administration to certify the safety and effectiveness of drugs before they can be imported, a requirement that officials have said they cannot meet.

"Well, once again the big drug companies have proved that they are the most powerful and best financed lobby in Washington," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

The vote neutralized a second amendment, later passed on a voice vote, that would legalize the importation of prescription drugs manufactured in Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan and New Zealand.

Overseas, drugs can cost two-thirds less than they do in the United States. In many industrialized countries, prices are lower because they are either controlled or partially controlled by government regulation.

The Oregonian includes information on the votes of Oregon and Washington senators. The Oregon Democrat and the Oregon Republican voted against the amendment. The two Washington Democrats voted for it.

Why the difference? Not a clue from the Oregonian. This is a straight good guy-bad guy read: pharmaceutical lobby vs. what's good for the people. No real analysis.

The amendment does benefit U.S. pharmaceutical companies. It also benefits all the people concerned about the safety of drugs (and food) sold to them.

Maybe that's why two Democratic senators from neighboring Washington, Cantwell and Murray, voted to require safety standards for drugs. By the way, 13 other Democratic senators, including Sens. Kerry, Kennedy and Bayh joined Cantwell and Murray in voting for certification of drug safety and effectiveness. Somehow 15 Democratic Senators voting for the "pharmaceutical companies" didn't make it into the AP/Oregonian report. Though, the AP report did include at least a hint of the argument for safety and certification that was important to Senators who supported the Cochran amendment. But, the Oregonian didn't think it important enough to include.

Is there really an argument for allowing food and drug imports to get to US consumers without passing the same health requirements that US products have to meet? Even with FDA standards we had the E. coli outbreak in 2006 not to mention recent contaminated pet food .

If we did away with the FDA, drugs would be a lot cheaper in the US too. But, is cheaper the main priority? If so, there are a lot of federal agencies that we could eliminate and save even more money.

There were substantive issues involved that the Oregonian staff didn't think worthy of inclusion. For a slightly more balanced view read the Washington Times article.

If this really is a pharmaceutical company vs. public interest issue, why did so many Democrats vote with Republicans for the amendment? All under the thumb of the pharmaceutical industry?

The Good Guy-Bad Guy template that the Oregonian is using not only does not give a clear picture of news, it actually distorts news by omitting contrary evidence.

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