Joe says it helps, as the cost of the drug falls to 10$.
Is this correct usage in a headline of a newspaper article?
I know in some cases, it's fine for the pronoun to come before the antecedent, but this sentence just feels very strange to me.
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When the pronoun "it" comes before the antecedent, it is known as a Postcedent.
Wikipedia lists common examples of this
When it is ready, I'll have a cup of coffee. - Noun as postcedent
In her bed, my friend spends the entire morning. - Noun phrase as postcedent
It bothered me that she did not call. - Clause as postcedent, example of it-extraposition
Two violinists were there, at the party. - Prepositional phrase as postcedent
Sam tries to work then, when it is raining. - Clause as postcedent
Now, we can see from these examples that is is mostly clunky but sometimes very natural (3rd example).
So yes, it's technically fine, but very clunky. Part of the issue is that "it" is very ambiguous and makes no sense to separate it from what "it" is referring to while also not saying what exactly needs helping. It makes the 2nd clause seem like an afterthought, which is fine in speech and dialogue because that is how humans often function.
A better way to write it would be
Joe says the cost of the drug falling to 10$ helps.
However, the paper wanted to give the feeling that the drug is currently falling while also implying that Joe is saying something in reaction to the drug price falling. The other way to write it isn't much better.
As the cost of the drug falls to $10, Joe says it helps.
The biggest issue is their need to force Joe and the action of the price falling into the same sentence. You can mess with the tense of the sentence and switch around "as" to "when" or "while" but it still comes out clunky.
It's just a product of trying to make a sentence accomplish too much.
Postcedents are not used as commonly. This article talks about how forward references (including postcedents / cataphora) are used in headlines to grab the attention of readers.
There is kind of redundancy in the second part that makes the headline not flow too well. This would be better:
Drug cost falls to 10$; Joe says it helps