Peter Maybarduk on Paxlovid, Maya Schenwar on Grassroots Journalism

This week on CounterSpin: Advertising critics have long noted that a company’s PR tells you, inadvertently but reliably, exactly what their problems are. The ad features salmon splashing in crystalline waters? That company is for sure a massive polluter.

That’s the lump of salt with which to take the recent announcement from the US Department of Health and Human Services that their new deal with Pfizer “extends patient access” to Covid treatment drug Paxlovid and “maximizes taxpayer investment”—as the HHS works with the drug company to “transition” Paxlovid “to the commercial market.” The announcement doesn’t note that this “transition” entails hiking the cost of the treatment to more than $1,300 for a five-day course, or 100 times the cost of production.

We discuss this outrage, and what allows it, with Peter Maybarduk, director of the Access to Medicines group at Public Citizen.

Also on the show: CounterSpin listeners, more than many, recognize news media as a keystone issue—important not simply in their own right but to all of the other issues we care about. The media lens—the points of view that they show us day after day, those they obscure or ridicule—affects the way we understand the world, our neighbors and what’s politically possible. That’s why we see the fight for a thriving media ecosystem as bound up completely with the fights for social, racial, economic and environmental justice. We talked about that nexus with Maya Schenwar, author and editor at large of Truthout, and director of a new project, the Truthout Center for Grassroots Journalism.

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