Katherine Relle, a former student at The London School of Economics and Political Science, recently looked at what people are saying about pharmaceutical companies online to determine whether social media for pharma could possibly be a match made in heaven… or was that hell?
According to Media Post News, more than 50% of leading pharma companies expect social media, online video and other types of digital marketing to grow in use as critical tools for communicating disease state and product information.
FDA Lacks Priorities for Social Media for Pharma
Last December at the FDA-CMS Summit, Douglas C. Throckmorton, MD, Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) said, “This is a transformational time in the healthcare system. Expectations, resources, and challenges all changing,” but he forgot to mention social media for pharma companies.
He pointed out that “today many more treatments are available, but patterns of manufacturing, use and access to information have shifted dramatically. Patients and clinicians want:
- New products sooner that are safer and more effective
- Deliver on the promise of basic science discoveries
- Increased involvement in process
- Accurate and understandable information sooner, especially in post-marketing”
Who could argue with that? And just a few of the key priorities for 2013 would include:
- Focus on Patient Participation in Drug Development Process
- Patient Participation in Medical Product Discussions
- Patient-Focused Drug Development
- More systematic and expansive approach to obtaining the patient perspective on disease severity or the unmet medical need in a therapeutic area to benefit the drug review process
With all of this focus on the patient, does regulation or corporate social media policy need to change to allow a real dialogue about medicines? Unlike the 2013 Strategic Priorities established for FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), CDER’s strategic plan isn’t so… strategic. The plan doesn’t include any guidance for social media. Industry claims that it is working under antiquated laws and a lack of guidance from the agency. Those claims aren’t off-base, particularly when you consider the only social media guidance the FDA has issued so far has been in the form of warning letters about the use of the Facebook “like” button.
A core group of new technologies at companies such as Abbott, Novartis, Actelion, Novo Nordisk, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, ProPharma, Genentech, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Janssen, Takeda, Vertex, Merck, Sharp & Dohme, Watson, Nektar, Wyeth, Schering-Plough and Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals is expected to grow rapidly for communication and education purposes. Industry expects social networking, podcasts and online video to grow in use as critical tools for communicating disease state and product information.
I’m on a panel at ePharma Summit in NYC this week, Social Media for Pharma: A Match Made in Heaven or Hell? moderated by Bob Brooks, Executive Vice President, WEGO Health. Michael Weiss, Crohn’s Health Activist, Tiffany Peterson, Lupus Health Activist, Dee Sparacio, Ovarian Cancer Health Activist, and I will be discussing how advocate groups use social media to communicate and educate their group members.
Marketers are seeing the tools as a way to spread information rapidly and educate through podcasts, video and social networks. They also have found that these mediums prove to hold very effective messaging for those who they communicate to. For Pharma companies to be truly successful today they need to find a way to communicate successfully internally to their market place of physicians and those selling the drugs, but also externally to communicate the effectiveness of those buying the products. What can Pharma learn about interacting with their community online from patient advocacy groups?