KEY TAKEAWAY: In an era where most people get their news from their Facebook feed and headlines from pseudo journalists the pharma industry and its PR talking mouth need to do more than just stay on the current course.
The pharma industry has been taking it on the chin because of price increases of prescription drugs. While some price increases may be warranted for more research what most people don’t understand is why pharma companies can’t lower profit margins and absorb some of these costs rather than pass it on to patients.
The internet has given people a voice but it also is great at spreading misinformation. Facebook only shows you the news you want and unless you are willing to dig deeper the news you get is myopic and slanted. People today are overwhelmed with content and they just don’t have the time to read it all but even more of a problem is that opinions are too often repurposed without thinking. It’s easy to point the finger at big pharma for denying expensive medications to patients, but when the public needs help with a new health threat, like the Zika virus, they ask “why can’t we develop a vaccine faster?”.
So what can the industry do? They need to first become more “human”. What I mean by this is that generic DTC marketing has to be replaced with information that helps patients make the right health care choices. They need marketers who are less of MBA spreadsheet analytic people and more empathetic when it comes to patients. They need to listen more and talk to patients as people not market segments.
Finally, pharma marketers need a complete competitive environment when it comes to their products including what people are saying about their brand and company. People on the internet have a way of rallying around a cause even when that cause is based on misinformation and lies. Too many of the “journalists” who write articles bashing pharma on websites like Business Insider and Huffington Post have no experience in health care at all and do nothing but light fires of rage. Granted pharma has a lot to answer for but without Rx drugs a lot of people would be in a sad state right now.