Finally, the doctors tired of asking the drug reps whether their drug was covered by Oregon’s Medicaid program. “We got tired of hearing people say, ‘No, but it’s covered by Blue Cross.’” In 2004, the withdrawal from the market of Vioxx, a popular anti-inflammatory drug heavily promoted by the industry with help from the press, pushed the clinic to its final decision. The drug, as CJR wrote in 2005, caused 61,000 fatal heart attacks and thousands of non-fatal heart attacks before it was withdrawn. We concluded the Vioxx saga was not the media’s finest hour.

The Bulletin’s story shows how the press can redeem itself. It can and should reveal the dark side of the drug industry.

Follow @USProjectCJR for more posts from this author and the rest of the United States Project team.

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.