I should be upfront and admit that I am not a fan of Edelman PR. They are a “legend in their own mind” and their insights tend to be, in my opinion, less than insightful. The latest Edelman trust barometer research indicates that 65% of respondents trust biotech and 63% trust pharma ” to do what is right”. Sorry, but I’m not buying that because there is just too much other research that says the opposite.According to the 2nd annual prescription drug survey conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center;
- More than two thirds, or 69 percent, of consumers surveyed said they think drugmakers have too much influence on doctors’ decisions about which drug to prescribe. Half of those polled said they feel doctors are too eager to prescribe a drug rather than consider alternate methods of managing a condition.
- 47 percent said they think gifts from pharma companies influence doctors to prescribe certain drugs, with 41 percent saying they think doctors tend to prescribe newer, more expensive drugs.
- Consumers also told Consumer Reports they were wary of other payments and rewards the pharmaceutical industry gives to physicians. A whopping 81 percent said they are concerned about the rewards drugmakers give to doctors who write a lot of prescriptions for a company’s drugs.
- 72 percent were displeased with payments pharmaceutical companies give to doctors for testimonials or for serving as a company spokesperson for a given drug.
- Sixty-one percent of consumers voiced concern about pharmaceutical companies paying doctors to speak at industry conferences, while 58 percent were concerned by big drug companies buying meals for doctors and their staffs.
In addition Ed Silverman on his Pharma BLOG recently said that pharma web sites struggle to build trust; as research firm asked more than 6,600 US adults in last year’s fourth quarter for their reactions to various sites and the available information, and here is what they found…
- When it comes to corporate websites, 37 percent expressed trust “to some degree” and 17 percent reported a lack of trust, with everyone else feeling neutral.
- Web sites for specific meds generated a slightly higher level of trust with 41 percent feeling comfortable and 14 percent expressing a lack of trust.
- As for disease sites, 37 percent viewed the site as trustworthy and 15 percent did not.
With the record fines that big drug companies have paid recently and the continued debate over the safety of vaccines it’s hard to believe that 63% of consumers trust big pharma to “do what is right”. I’m sorry I’m not buying Edelman’s research at all. In fact an article today online details a reporters issue when trying to get Edelman to answer some questions about a client (Best Buy) and Edelman’s lack of response. But then again they did admit a year ago that they were clueless when it comes to social media. Of course in 2006 a travel blog featuring a couple traveling the country by RV and camping in Wal-Mart parking lots turned out to be a fake, its pro-Wal-Mart message backed by the Edelman PR firm.
So what does this all mean ?
(1) Please don’t assume that 65% of consumers trust pharma to do what is right. That is just not true but it also depends on the product, disease state and brand.
(2) Earn patients and consumers trust one at a time and install a belief in your organization that trust is not earned once and then given for life. It has to be consistently earned through transparency and actions.
(3) Accept that what you say to consumers and patient is probably going to be verified by them via the Internet and in talking with their physician or other HCP.