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What Does Pharma Want

What Does Pharma Want

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Published by porternovelli
What’s stopping Big Pharma from taking more than small steps toward active engagement in social media? A mythical FDA roadmap? A more important and introspective question is: What does industry want to accomplish in the social media space? Waiting for FDA to tell them how without knowing what they want to do is an excuse to delay at best, and a disservice to the public health at worst.
What’s stopping Big Pharma from taking more than small steps toward active engagement in social media? A mythical FDA roadmap? A more important and introspective question is: What does industry want to accomplish in the social media space? Waiting for FDA to tell them how without knowing what they want to do is an excuse to delay at best, and a disservice to the public health at worst.

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Published by: porternovelli on Oct 20, 2010
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02/23/2013

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FALL 2010
PETER J. PITTS
Senior Partner and Director ofGlobal Regulatory and Health Policy
 
2What Does Pharma Want? |PORTER NOVELLI | AMPLIFY
WHAT DOES
PHARMA
Want? 
During a past episode of
Mad Men
, the creative team at Sterling/Cooper was hard at workbrainstorming on a “women’s product” campaign when someone asked, “What do women want?”Strolling by, Roger Sterling quipped, “Who cares?!”Well, when it comes to social media, what does pharma want – and who cares?Many will say “regulation from the FDA” – in fact, a great many. But is that really what pharmawants?Yesterday I participated in a small roundtable (sponsored by AstraZeneca) on “Examining theRoles of the FDA and the Pharmaceutical Industry in Social Media.”(Full disclosure: AZ is a client of Porter Novelli’s in Europe, and I ate two small eggplant andtomato tea sandwiches and drank 2.5 cups of organic coffee. I did not offer to reimburse AZfor the “gift.”)What does pharma want? One of the opening comments was that pharma wants the “abilityto engage” in social media. My response to that was to ask whether pharma has the “will” toengage – because they certainly have the ability if they choose to use it. And where there’s awill, there’s a way.Another issue that came up early – and that generated a lot of conversation – was the need tobifurcate the discussion of digital advertising from that of social media. There are rules fordigital advertising, paid digital advertising. Social media, on the other hand, is where the actionis and the opportunities reside. It’s the crucial gray zone that exists between regulated speech
PETER J. PITTS
Senior Partner and Director of Global Regulatory and Health PolicyPorter Novelli New York
 Peter.Pitts@portenovelli.com | 212.601.8208
 
3What Does Pharma Want? |PORTER NOVELLI | AMPLIFY
and user-generated content. It’s where therubber meets the road.What pharma wants (or should want) isspecific areas of clarification from the FDAon this new and exciting zone of opportunity.What of the empowered digital health careconsumer we hear so much about? Well –there were a few of them in attendance atthe AZ confab and they had some interestingthings to say.What struck a chord for me was when one ofthe civilians in the room (by which I mean apatient) said that she really had no idea whypharmaceutical companies chose to absentthemselves from disease-related socialmedia conversations. She assumed it wasbecause Big Pharma is afraid of mixing it upwith real people in real time dialogue.And she’s right, of course – but for reasonsshe didn’t suspect. The ensuing explanationsof adverse event reporting and othercompliance-related issues didn’t cause herto nod her head, but rather to say (indeed,almost insist) that “pharma should explain topeople why they’re not there.”
Blame the FDA!
was the knee-jerk reaction.But that’s not fair and it’s not true. Howcan the agency be blamed for industry’sreluctance to push the boundaries – evena little? Fear of warning letters? Fear ofunearthing adverse events? I say, wherethere’s a will, there’s a way. If you won’tblaze the path – even a little – then don’texpect anyone to know where you want to go.Unfortunately, blazing new territory throughreal-time learning is not, shall we say,historically a tradition of the pharmaceuticalindustry. Everyone wants to do new andexciting things – second.Here’s an even more basic question – what’sthe right thing to do? I submit that it’sirresponsible to actively avoid participatingin the social media health care conversation.It is, to directly quote Center for DrugEvaluation and Research Director Dr. JanetWoodcock, “where the people are.” Healthcare begins at search.But, someone pushed back, that’s why weneed more directive regulation from theFDA. I fundamentally disagree that (1), that’swhat’s needed and (2), that’s what’s coming.Let me explain.
“PHARMA SHOULD EXPLAIN TOPEOPLE WHY THEY’RE NOT THERE.”

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