KEY TAKEAWAY: The pharma industry has helped a lot of people live longer, more productive lives, but the industry also has a lot of self caused problems from high drug prices and outrageous CEO pay to a blazing lack of transparency. Rather than acknowledge and write about these issues the trade press seems to only praise and write articles from press releases.
After the AACR conference this year the trade press seemed to appoint Keytruda king after their presentations based on Merck’s press release. I decided, however, to read what oncologists were saying to each other and asked them what they thought (how novel). What I found was that despite what the trade press had said almost all were taking a “wait and see approach” and wanted more data.
Pharma’s trade press has become a mouthpiece for pharma propaganda often taking a one sided approach rather than questioning the industry that I love. For the most part their shallow reporting is nothing more than a praise based on company press releases. If we can’t acknowledge our own shortcomings, how can we change?
Rather than write this article based just on my opinion, I asked several colleagues about pharma trade magazines. Almost to a person they said that the trade magazines offer little value and the only reason they get them is because they made this mistake of requesting a fresh subscription.
What about the awards? An SVP put it this way “trade press awards are pretty worthless. They’re great for saying look what we did, but let’s face it, our industry sets the bar pretty low”.
Two weeks ago while at a client meeting in Boston a Director asked me why I’m so critical of the industry. I responded that “I have seen first hand the good our industry does, but we have lost touch with the fundamentals that put patients first and that I really love working within pharma but we have to be the lightening rod for change”.
Yesterday a client in California called me to talk about the latest dog and pony show of the DTC National conference. “What a waste of time and money, ” she said. “I thought I would walk away with at least something new but it’s nothing more than a networking conference filled with anxious vendors”. I then asked her about the industry trade press to which she responded “I can’t comment on that because frankly, I never read the magazines”. Too true…