Judges granted a Gerald Loeb award Thursday to the Center for Public Integrity and NPR for their damning joint investigation into the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on state officials overseeing tens of billions of dollars in Medicaid drug spending each year.
The news organizations found that drug industry representatives swarmed obscure state Medicaid committee meetings, had financial ties to three out of five doctors sitting on the committees and sponsored swanky conferences where state drug officials could hear from pharma-friendly clinicians.
The story prompted U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., to introduce federal legislation, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to issue an executive order to toughen conflict-of-interest rules and multiple doctors to resign or be fired from the state boards governing Medicaid drug decisions.
The Gerald Loeb Awards, established in 1957, recognize the best in business and finance reporting. The Medicaid story won in the Audio category. The Center’s Liz Essley Whyte and Joe Yerardi, along with NPR’s Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak, reported the project. Editing and additional multimedia support came from Kytja Weir, Joe Neel, Meredith Rizzo, Julia Donheiser and Chris Zubak-Skees.
“The Loeb Awards are no joke,” Yerardi, a data reporter at the Center, said. “We were up against some incredible competition so I’m thrilled and deeply honored that the judges recognized our work like this.”
The story was honored at a dinner in New York City Thursday hosted by the UCLA Anderson School of Management, which stewards the awards.
Read the investigation: How drugmakers sway states to profit off Medicaid