NY Times Slants Patent Protection Story Against Novartis

    New York Times reporter Amelia Gentleman subtly slanted her January 30 story on a pending Indian court case regarding drugs patents by directing readers to see prescription drugs as a “right.”

     “The supply of low-cost generic versions of cancer and AIDS treatments for the developing world could be blocked if Novartis wins a legal challenge to India’s patent law, patients’ rights groups have contended,” wrote Gentleman in her first paragraph.

    The groups leveling the attacks, Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders, are two liberal organizations that attack private pharmaceutical companies, using left-wing talking points.

     “Tell Novartis it has no business standing in the way of people’s right to access the medicines they need,” reads the Doctors without Borders petition request.

    While Oxfam’s Web site avoids describing generic AIDS drugs as a “right,” it bemoans how drug companies put “profit over people,” or “patents vs. patients,” socialistic talking point that ignore the millions of dollars spent developing and refining complex prescription drugs.

    Oxfam’s liberal activism extends to other issues like climate change, as the British-based organization urges members to “help us build awareness and action on climate change” by hosting a screening of “An Inconvenient Truth.”

    The Times did give some ink to John Gilardi, a spokesman for Novartis (NYSE: NVS) to argue that “billions of dollars” might not be invested in developing new drugs should patent protections be weakened. But Gentleman quickly rebutted his remarks by turning to a Doctors Without Borders spokesman who blustered that Novartis was “trying to shut down the pharmacy of the developing world.”

     Nowhere in her article did Gentleman question if that pharmacy’s generic knockoffs of patented drugs were safe or as effective as those made by the patent holders, nor did she question the motives of Oxfam and Doctors without Borders as possibly motivated by ideological fervor over the long-term interest of AIDS patients.