On pharma company influencers

SUMMARY: Pharma company influencers need to change the culture of pharma companies and take away the focus from Wall Street to patients.

A pharma trade magazine had an article on the top 100 pharma influencers within our industry. I would push back and ask “what are they influencing and is their influence bringing about much needed change within our industry?”

According to Fierce Pharma “The good news is trust in the pharma industry is up. The bad news is that it’s still not enough to move the industry out of “distrusted” status. Edelman’s annual trust barometer research recorded an increase of 6 points in the U.S. that helped pharma reach a new rating score of 44. However, that’s still considered untrusted territory by Edelman; the industry would need to reach 50 to get to neutral territory and to 60 to be considered trusted under the Edelman ratings. Globally, the pharma industry’s trust rating rose 4 points to 67, ranking in the lower half of the 15 industries studied.”

Price hikes, manipulative patent litigation and a rampant opioid addiction epidemic have steadily soured the public’s view of the pharmaceutical industry.

I have to admit that I have never seen an industry so slow to implement change. Pharma field people are still inundated with paperwork and conference calls that should have been digitized a long time ago. Pharma websites look and read like medical journals as online health seekers tell us in research that pharma websites rarely drive them to ask for the branded product.

So what are industry influencers really doing? Any marketing intervention could be seen as patient-centric if people tell themselves “it’s what the patient wants”. Pharma headlines, when potential new drugs fail in trials, are often about the stock price rather than the effect on patients.

I love working in pharma. I see part of my job as pushing back to ensure we’re balancing the brand needs with patients and caregiver wants. If we really care about the people we serve then we have to be more vocal when our industry choses sales over patients.

Being a pharma influencer is a lot more than a bullet point on your resume; it’s about having the courage to say “this is wrong” or “we’re not helping our customers”.