Forging Alliances - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Forging Alliances
Advocacy Partners


Pharmaceutical Executive


"Family caregivers often balance full-time jobs with caring for older family members," says Bill Sheldon, president of Eisai and chair of the advisory council. "By helping community groups enhance or create volunteer caregiver programs, we can increase the pool of skilled volunteer caregivers in communities to improve the quality of care for older adults-and the lives of their families. It was the right thing to do."

Since January 2001, the manual has been available free of charge to qualified nonprofit organizations-those that already have an administrative and program structure in place and a system for recruiting, screening, training and supporting volunteers and have or, are ready to establish, a program for training volunteer support caregivers of older adults. Thousands of copies have been distributed and requests are still coming in. The entire manual is also available online.

For setting that new standard for excellence in training, earlier this year Eisai and its nine advisory council partners received the American Society on Aging's Brookdale Award for Best Practices in Human Resources and Aging. "Candidates for employment are impressed with a company that would take on something like that on," says Sheldon. "So, it also has helped in our recruitment efforts."

Managing the Advocacy Network Traditionally, pharma senior management has not supported the creation of centralized systems for reporting, maintaining, and sharing information about advocacy relationships across functional areas.

Managers in marketing, sales, policy, government affairs, and public relations have tended to build proprietary networks to meet their functional needs. Each has been reluctant to share allies with others in the company because of their need to maintain control and protect those relationships. As a result, many advocacy relationships overlap, causing inefficiency and double dipping.

But a new trend is emerging. As more companies embrace a team spirit, they also are recognizing the value of public relations and advocacy development across functions and the need to centrally manage and share information about those partnerships. Pharmacia created a global web-based management tool called G.R.O.U.P (Global Resource on Organizations United with Pharmacia) that stores advocacy information from of all of Pharmacia's divisions in one place.

"We track events, funding opportunities, and key contact persons, have a link to each organization's website, and a notes sections where we document each transaction, interaction, and activity. That information is available to everyone in the company," says Berry, who manages the database. In the near future, more pharma companies are likely to use similar management tools for reporting advocacy development. Greater collaboration, transparency, and efficiency also should make for stronger third-party alliances and public relations at a time when the pharma industry needs all the friends it can get.


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