Pharma: winning back a skeptical public

SUMMARY: The media has not been kind to pharma and the public views pharmaceutical companies below politicians. There are some things that pharma can do to win the battle of public opinion beyond using PhRMA as a talking piece.

The media loves stories about people who can’t afford their medications because it enflames an already angry public. PhRMA tries to fight back but they’re just a lobbying arm of big pharma. Trust can be won back but it has to be with actions, not just words. Here’s how…

1ne: Simplify the process of helping patients get drugs they can’t afford and promote it more. The current process is too damn bureaucratic.

2wo: Limit CEO compensation. Too many pharma CEO’s making way too much money.

3hree: Don’t increase digital budgets without putting patients first. Throwing more money at digital is not going to help patients in an online environment full of bad health information.

4our: Provide more online/offline patient resources. Not everything needs to show an ROI, sometimes you need to do things that directly benefit people with health problems.

5ive: Sure the blame for high drug prices is caused by many factors including middlemen but the public doesn’t believe you when you point fingers while your profit margins continue to be the highest in ANY industry.

6ix: Make pharma websites more user-friendly with simplified language. The biggest complaint I hear is that they read like a medical manual to a public who reads at an 8th-grade reading level.

7even: Schedule CEO chats with the public via social media. It may be hard to face an angry public but CEOs need to listen more and answer an angry public.

8ight: Executives need to reinforce that patients come first and add it to the KRAs for every employee.

Finally, the whole industry needs to look in the mirror. When I first started in pharma it WAS about patients but as blockbuster drugs took over it became about profits and Wall Street. Investors and analysts could care less about patients, their only concern is money. That has to stop.

Some CEOs could care less about the public perception of the industry and they are part of the problem. It has to change and has to change sooner rather than later.