Newspaper Coverage of Healthcare Reform –Significantly More than Last Year
This year's newspaper coverage of healthcare reform increased about 3.7 times over last year's coverage, expanding from 16
to 60 articles. This is the highest number since the PPACA (a.k.a. Obamacare) was signed into law on March 23, 2010 and Congressional
debate continued before and after its passage. A summary of coverage is found in Table 5.
What Were the Issues Related To Healthcare?
The number one issue mentioned was healthcare reform, which is largely attributable to issues and interactions about healthcare
reform and the PPACA. It was the focus of 56 of the 60 articles and was responsible for the significant increase from 12 articles
related to healthcare last year. The number two issue was contraception, which was linked to healthcare reform and President
Obama's eventual compromise about having insurance companies cover the cost of contraception. Additionally, coverage about
contraception was high due to the controversial FDA decision to allow over-the-counter access for Plan B One-Step with levonorgestrel
through the Women's Capital Corporation and Teva Women's Health. Overall, coverage about contraception was either the focal
point or mentioned in 22 of the 60 articles. Other issues affiliated with PPACA articles and mentioned were high drug prices
in U.S. (9), interaction with the FDA (7), drug safety (6) and Medicare/Medicaid coverage for drugs (3). There were also a
few mentions about genomics and biologicals (3) and marketing/sales incentives (2). A breakdown of all issues is shown in
Healthcare Coverage and Associations with Pharma Companies or Drugs
For the second time since newspaper coverage has merited collecting healthcare data separately, there were specific mentions
about companies and/or their products. This year there were 26 mentions and, clearly the most mentioned was Teva and/or its
drug levonorgestrel, which accounted for 18 of the 26 mentions. Not surprisingly, these mentions are linked to the coverage
about contraception/Plan B (22 mentions in 60 articles). The other companies mentioned were Amgen (3), Genentech (2), Perdue
Pharma (1) and Johnson & Johnson (1).
Implications for Pharma
From the big Pharma perspective, the most reported issue, drug safety, was linked to the New England Compounding Center and
accentuates the benefits of pharma's efforts to enhance GMP protections and expand quality standards throughout global operations.
Yet, media coverage continues to remain on balance negative toward the industry, by a slight margin: 47% this year compared
to a 46% average over the last seven years.
This negativity is combined with additional scrutiny by way of the highest number of companies and/or their products, 97,
since we began reporting in 2005. Even if the 26 mentions associated with the New England Compounding Center scandal are discounted,
the media is paying more attention to specific companies. This increased scrutiny, combined with a 20% increase in coverage
from last year, gives the second and third most reported issues, interaction with the FDA and high drug prices, increased
traction, especially when those issues are related to a specific company.
Another key impact for pharma is healthcare reform for which coverage has skyrocketed, largely due to the flawed introduction
and controversy over PPACA (e.g., inaccessibility of http://HealthCare.gov/). Along with this emphasis on healthcare, the industry went from the optimism about the market potential of newly insured
patients to headlines about the loss of potential customers as a consequence of the delay in the deadline for employers to
meet the obligations of the individual mandate for insurance until 2015. Furthermore, it's anticipated that pharma's interface
with customers will be with more informed patients and prescribers due to electronic data systems that provide more information
to patients, a trend that will make it harder to differentiate their products from those of competitor firms. It also suggests
the pharma business model will move from individual prescribers to more networked business-to-business transactions, where
image issues will be increasingly diffuse.
George P. Sillup is Arrupe Fellow and Associate Professor at St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA; Stephen J. Porth is Associate Dean and Arrupe Fellow and Professor at St. Joseph's. Cynthia Slater, SJU's Business Reference Librarian; Ryan Fox, Ethics Trak Administrator; and Danielle Puccino and Dante Gleason, SJU Summer Scholar Program students, also contributed to this research.