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Sen. Sanders Accuses News Outlets of Drug Price Undercoverage

Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has taken some major broadcast and cable news outlets to task for what he said is under-reporting of the high cost of prescription drugs and is putting a little Hill muscle into trying to get them to boost that coverage.

That came in a letter Monday to Fox News Channel executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch, CBS News President David Rhodes, ABC News President James Goldston, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim, CNN President Jeff Zucker, and PBS CEO Paula Kerger.

"While the flagship network newscasts barely mentioned prescription drug prices, viewers of the same programs were bombarded with commercials by pharmaceutical companies. Fueled partly by an 11 percent jump in TV ads, pharmaceutical company spending on ads overall rose to $5.6 billion in 2016," Sanders said in releasing the letter. "While network news doesn’t care about drug prices, Americans do."

Sanders said that while Americans pay the highest prices in the world "by far" for prescription drugs, their networks were "sweep[ing] the story under the rug."

He said he hoped that was not because of the "enormous" amounts of pharmaceutical advertising on their air.

He called for a meeting with them or their Washington bureau chiefs to discuss "increasing coverage of this important issue."

Sanders appeared to be reacting at least in part to a study released Monday by Media Matters for America (he cited the study in his letter) that alleged that evening news shows on broadcast and cable rarely cover the issue of "escalating" drug prices.

Sanders has backed allowing the importation of prescription drugs from Canada to try and force U.S. prices down and is going to propose a bill that would require Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors and the disabled.