Do pharma marketers have a responsibility to the public?

IN BRIEF: As a marketer, most of us, like a Jungian archetype, are true Communicators. Yet are those skills only reserved for big budgets, bold pitches, and grand innovations? Or do we, as individuals, have a special responsibility to the public at this moment in time? After all, we are already the translators of science for our clients.  

A March 12th, Marist/NPR pole on vaccines is disturbing, but from what I have seen in everyday life, it is worse:

·        25% of Black respondents and 28% of white respondents said they did not plan to get a shot.

·        Latino respondents were slightly more likely to say they would not get vaccinated at 37%. As a pharma marketer who has worked in many other therapeutic categories and recently on a Covid launch, I have become acutely aware of the interaction between national poles and the on-the-ground sentiment I have observed. The majority of individuals I have spoken to — from the Verizon call center to the Amazon delivery person to the older woman trying to arrange a service appointment to my house, the checkout lady at the ACME – when it comes to the vaccines, they are like spinning compasses. Nearly all are so unsure what and who to believe. Even my GP knew less than I did.

As a marketer, most of us, like a Jungian archetype, are true Communicators. Yet are those skills only reserved for big budgets, bold pitches, and grand innovations? Or do we, as individuals, have a special responsibility to the public at this moment in time? After all, we are already the translators of science for our clients.  

The dilemma is painfully simple: every day, even with the pandemic, we all interact with many random people, from call centers to gas stations to supermarkets, on and on. Do I have a responsibility to share — on every occasion, random and formal, to family, friends, and strangers alike —  my knowledge on the vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, the latest news from the Lancet or JAMA, why RNA is not voodoo, how Phase 4 safety trials are happening as I write…The answer is simple: yes. Those with knowledge, is there not an undercurrent that says we are all somehow more responsible for each other than ever before? That the stranger is not a stranger, but just someone you do not know, but is deserving of the same kindness, you would so easily share with family and friends? 


Doesn’t tragedy (I lost my mother; oddly enough, her grandmother died in 1919 in the other pandemic) and misinformation require us to share the facts and hope that knowledge combats ignorance and fear? 
My job is not to be a doctor but to educate so people can make informed decisions, hopefully with their physician. 

I am not sure I have the answers, but perhaps we can pause and ask ourselves the right questions. 

Alfred O’Neill
http://www.outspokentraveler.com
@outspokentraveler