Saturday, February 20, 2010
A Maalox Moment
On Thursday, Nightly News reported a story about an FDA warning concerning Maalox. Apparently, some people had serious adverse reactions after mistakenly taking Maalox Total Relief (an anti-diarrheal) instead of regular Maalox (an antacid). The aspirin-like ingredient in Maalox Total Relief can be harmful to people who have ulcers, are taking blood thinners or to children or teens recovering from a viral infection. Novartis, the maker of Maalox, announced that to avoid further confusion, they would soon be removing the name Maalox from the product. Meanwhile, the same day, some other networks reported that the zinc in Super Poligrip has caused some users to have trouble walking and to experience numbness in their extremities. GlaxoSmithKline announced that they will be pulling the product from the market until they can manufacture a zinc-free formula. These stories seem closely related. But Nightly News reported only the Maalox story, not the Poligrip story. Why? Because GlaxoSmithKline is a heavy advertiser on Nightly News and other NBC programs. Clearly, the Nightly News producers did not want to risk offending their pals at Glaxo. (Novartis is a less frequent advertiser.) Once again, the Nightly News producers have allowed advertising concerns to influence their decision on which stories to report.