Thank God for the San Francisco Examiner!

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If it weren't for the hard-charging business section of the San Francisco Examiner, we'd have never learned that the nation's largest pharmaceutical drug distributor was being sued by an employee-benefits fund on the East Coast.

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Okay, okay. We had the story a year ago. We just had to gloat a little. The Chronicle caught up with it several weeks later, and the Wall Street Journal beat us all when they fronted the story on the day the suit was filed earlier in 2006.

The McKesson Corp. is based here in San Francisco, and in the Examiner's deadwood edition this morning, they explained that the company was accused in federal civil court records of conspiring with the Hearst Corp. to artificially inflate drug prices causing consumers to pay untold billions more than necessary for wholesale pharmaceuticals.

Hearst, of course, owns the Chronicle. But they also own a company that publishes drug prices called First DataBank. McKesson's corporate headquarters fill 20 floors at One Post Street where Sen. Dianne Feinstein also maintains an office. The Examiner's coverage today is a mere two-sentence brief, and without crucial context outlining McKesson's past alleged anti-competitive actions, the story is all but meaningless.

McKesson's chief exec makes more money even than the top suits at Bay Area oil companies (check the San Francisco Business Journal's "Book of Lists"). But the local press does an extraordinarily poor job covering the Fortune 500 company.

Now, we know it sounds a little self-righteous to complain about the lack of Big Pharma coverage in the Bay Area. After all, complex health-care policy just doesn't have big boobs. But isn't a Federal Trade Commission investigation kinda hot? It's in their SEC filings, you hunky business reporters.

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