Michael Durand, director of Porter Novelli's global health practice, adds that the Cipro issue was another example of the
general disconnect between pharma and the millions of uninsured patients who lack access to many of the innovations that the
industry has brought to the marketplace. "When Clinton was elected," Durant says, "there were 37 million uninsured and he
vowed to do something about it. In eight years of Democrats and a year and a half of Republicans, we've gone in the wrong
"Are the pharmaceutical and public relations industries doing anything to help move that issue along in a positive direction?
I think that, at some point, we're heading for a giant train wreck, and I don't think, without more productivity on industry's
part, that we'll avoid it."
Kathy Cripps, executive managing director and co-director of Hill & Knowlton's US healthcare practice, agrees with Durand
about the importance of pharma companies' responsibility to its custo-mers and suggests that some companies are leading the
pack. (Cripps left her position at Hill & Knowlton and now serves as president of the Council of PR Firms.)
"J&J is a very good example," she says. "They're good corporate citizens. But I think that's where we can have a role as well,
to continuously point out how the industry's individual companies can make an impact by having good corporate communication
One roundtable participant criticizes the industry for its inconsistency. "The industry hasn't done a good job of being a
leader," says Ame Wadler, healthcare practice chair for Burson-Marsteller. "It has a tendency to alternately defend itself
and apologize. That goes back to its involvement with human life. The issues that the industry takes on are so much larger
than what Pepsi has to deal with. But there is a need for a sustained commitment to telling a story and not retreating. The
industry needs to stand up in the face of challenges that are unlike those in any other industry, not to retreat and band
together behind their trade organization. It needs to take a consistent leadership role; to stop apologizing, then getting
defensive about specific issues. Until that happens, nobody will understand what this industry does."
PR for PR
Just as pharma companies have not done enough to explain to the public what they do and the value they bring to society, healthcare
PR agencies haven't promoted themselves to their pharma clients or to other audiences they serve-media, healthcare providers,
and patients. The profession, for better or worse, has eschewed self-promotion and failed to get trade associations such as
the Public Relations Society of America or the Council of PR Firms to do it on their behalf.
Healthcare Public Relationscontinues with link to Page 6
Page 5 is related article, "Media Lens"