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Big Pharma, Social Media, and the Consumer Demand for Dialogue

10 MAR 2014

Anyone involved in the world of marketing will stress the importance of networking via social media. It is becoming increasingly vital to invest in online brand building, reach out to consumers and be accessible to potential clients. A recent AAPS blog post examines Big Pharma’s online presence, investigating drugmakers’ stance on community building and responsiveness with regard to patients, medical personnel and health care professionals at large. The post, Big Pharma, Social Media, and the Consumer Demand for Dialogue, reflects that

Organizations big and small are aggressively pursuing strategies that will make them more visible and accessible online. But what about Big Pharma? Surprisingly, a recent report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics reveals that out of the 50 largest drugmakers in the world, only half engage with social media. And yet, more and more patients are turning to online networks to follow new clinical research, share experiences, and find health information. Some companies are afraid to open the floodgates, while others leap into the fray, connecting with patients in innovative and mutually beneficial ways.

Complex and often restrictive FDA regulations have made pharmaceutical companies wary of online conversations. According to the regulator, virtual dialogues must be strictly “scientific” and never appear promotional, only medical personnel can speak for the company, they must not stray far from pre-approved label information – and all responses must be delivered as private messages, rather than posted in a public forum. This is hardly a recipe for a free-flowing and transparent back-and-forth between drug provider and a community of stakeholders. As an alternative point of access, and TrialReach have collaborated to offer patients a forum in which to discuss therapies, generate support, and even enrol themselves in promising new clinical trials. It’s a way around unresponsive drug companies and the prohibitively long wait times associated with bringing new meds to market.