The “business” of the pharma media

SUMMARY: The pharmaceutical trade publications, except STAT News and Endpoints, have remained silent on the sham approval of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug. Pharma trade magazines have become irrelevant, and most could care less what they print, although they try to suck up with phony awards. It’s up to people within the industry to push back and try to be the change we want and need to see.

Last week in Cannes, the ad industry patted itself on the back with over 700 awards presented to agencies. That’s the business of “advertising.” Pharma has its own “business” consisting of agencies that are more interested in billings than developing breakthrough DTC and the endless trade publications that each has essentially meaningless awards.

The total disaster that has become the FDA has been covered well by only two publications: STAT News and Endpoints. They have researched The Who, what, and why of the drug’s approval, and everyone in the industry should be outraged. However, most industry trade magazines are, of course, afraid to say anything negative about a potential advertiser.

I have received three trade magazine awards in my DTC career. Long ago, I threw them in the trash because they don’t mean a damn thing. I wonder if people working within pharma actually read the articles or use them for bathroom reading material?

There are so many silent voices within our industry around the sham approval of Biogen’s drug. I was hoping at LEAST one CEO would have had the courage to say, “this approval was wrong.” Instead, Lilly and BMS are rushing to get a piece of the potential billions of dollars Alzheimer’s drug windfall. It’s disgusting.

I asked, a few days ago, how the employees of Biogen feel. Are they drinking the Kool-Aid, or are there people within the company who are pushing back against a drug that will cost more and do more potential damage than ever should have been allowed. Frankly, if I am a Biogen employee, I would quit out of moral principle.

The reality is that Pharma doesn’t care what others think. It’s a business whose only responsibility is shareholders and the balance sheet. While more and more patients become lost in online health misinformation and seek answers to health issues, pharma continues to pitch “me-too” drugs with high prices.

I’m sorry. I’m on my soapbox again, but I really love the industry and have firsthand how we can help people. I really believe that we have a moral obligation always to put patients first and tell Wall Street to take a hike. It may be a losing cause, but if we can’t try to install change in the industry, which will?