Pharma bashing: Is it fair?

imagesKEY TAKEAWAY: Negative pharma stories continue to be reported by the media as a handful of pharma executives continues to believe that their first responsibility is to shareholders not patients.  Social media are very much acting like an amplifier for distrust of pharma companies, but even though the volume will fade there are lessons to be learned.

According to a physician I follow on Twitter 90% of health problems can be directly attributed to our lifestyles.  In addition 13 types of cancer can be linked to obesity.  American’s are not living healthy lifestyles and why should they when “their is a pill for that?”.


For many the recent criticism of pharma around drug prices is “not fair”.  They talk about R&D spending and the cost to bring a drug market, but as we are finding out in this election, facts don’t always matter.

Social media, coupled with the distrust of the mainstream media, have amplified the voices of pharma bashers.  Most stories fail to take a balanced approach, but that’s because the authors aren’t really journalists. In addition hashtag activism on social media is often spreading stories that are biased.  The bad news is that it’s not going to get better anytime soon.


The silence, from most pharma executives, around excessive pricing of drugs and devices has been deafening.  There seems to be a feeling that the current environment is ripe for taking huge profits “while we can”.  However, executives would be mistaken to think that represents a strategic position.

Despite the fact that we don’t exercise, don’t eat well and continue to be our own worst enemy when it comes to our health it’s easier to point fingers at someone rather than look in the mirror.  That’s not going to change either.

Rather than complain and release facts on consumer health and the benefits of today’s pharmaceutical products it’s easier to complain and blame everyone but ourselves.  Big Pharma is evil and must be taken down seems to be the prevailing sentiment in social media, fair or not, it is what it is.

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What we can’t afford to do is stick our heads in the ground and act like nothing has changed when it comes to DTC marketing.  We need to ask our market research people measure patient attitudes towards our company and brand and think about ways to regain the lost trust between us and the public.  It requires a strategic approach, but to ignore it risks the further decline of DTC marketing.


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