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Contest Entries

Bad Bargain

Entrants: Katherine Eban

Affiliation: Self

General Interest Magazines above 1 million circ.

Year: 2009

Place: First Place

Provide a brief synopsis of the story or stories, including any significant findings.

Regulators, politicians, employers and insurers have assured Americans that generic drugs – which will soon comprise 80 percent of the medicine dispensed to us – are safe, effective, and largely identical to their more expensive brand-name counterparts. "Bad Bargain" exposes the glaring regulatory loopholes that allow substandard or un-equivalent generics to reach consumers. The article also identified patients who suffered devastating consequences after being switched from brand-name to generic drugs.

Judges' comments: This is a first-rate piece of investigative reporting by Self magazine and reporter Katherine Eban. Based on a yearlong investigation, extensive interviews and previously unpublished records, "Bad Bargain" performs a valuable public service by sounding a warning about problems with the potency of some commonly prescribed generic drugs. The piece also reveals disturbing gaps in the government's ability to protect patients from such dangers because of the FDA's ineffective system for inspecting generic drug manufacturers, particularly those located outside the USA.

Read "Bad Bargain"

See the contest questionnaire in which the reporter writes about how this story was written.