The analysis shows that, although most headlines and articles did not support the positions of the industry, the coverage
did include pharma's point of view: 77.7 percent of the articles mentioned both sides of the disputed issue.
Implications for Pharma
The findings of this study have several important implications for the pharma industry and for PhRMA.
Medicare drug benefit The industry is facing many of the same challenges that it has faced for years. But with the new Medicare drug benefit, pharma
needs to focus on how coverage will affect the decisions of payers and those that influence payers as the 109th Congress debates
how the bill will be finalized, administered, and funded. After all, there is a strong underlying impetus in Congress to look
to the pharma industry as a way to make the plan more affordable by reducing drug prices.
Responsibility for data reporting In this area, the industry may want to consider taking a more proactive position by reporting the findings of all studies,
ideally in the NIH Registry, but at a minimum, in a registry enabling easy access to providers and patients. This will not
only avoid a potential confrontation with FDA, but also will keep FDA's focus on the approval of new drugs. If the industry
does not provide full disclosure of data, it invites greater FDA scrutiny and/or increases the risk of regulatory action.
Prioritize the issues Only three of the nine issues PhRMA identified were commonly reported on: drug pricing, data disclosure, and reimportation
of drugs from Canada or other countries. However, the remaining issues on PhRMA's list received relatively little or no attention.
Similarly, the audit revealed that the media is reporting on issues that are not on PhRMA's radar screen, such as drug counterfeiting,
a ban on drug industry payments to NIH scientists, experimental trials preceding full-scale clinical studies, efforts by PBMs
and other payers to restrict drugs on the Medicare formulary, and efforts to speed healthcare in developing countries.
Better communications This analysis suggests that industry must place greater emphasis on the issues highlighted by the media and re-evaluate the
issues PhRMA prioritizes. This focus can bring public attention to the issues that depict the positive things the industry
does to improve overall healthcare.
Pharma's tainted image is a result of many complex issues, but may also be a result of the industry's ineffectiveness at communicating
its messages, or failure to make those messages compelling to the public. In short, the industry must work more proactively
with the media, especially through PhRMA. This will help patients better understand the unique issues the industry faces and
reaffirm its contributions to US healthcare delivery.
Stephen J. Porth, PhD is associate dean and
professor of management, and George P. Sillup, PhD is assistant professor of management, both at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. They can be reached at email@example.com
' respectively. The authors wish to thank Theresa Garvey and Cynthia Slater for their contributions to our research.