Whenever branded-drug makers move to block generic competition, it draws media attention. The industry needs to weigh the
pros and cons of the price differential between branded medicines and generics—particularly in light of the considerable coverage—and
consumer interest—patent battles garner.
All ads, all the time The sales and marketing tactics used by the pharma industry are attracting an increasing amount of media scrutiny, much of
it negative. This is somewhat surprising because the PhRMA voluntary direct-to-consumer marketing guidelines serve as the
basis to standardize promotional activities and prevent the transgressions that attract the negative attention.
Part D opportunities Much of the media coverage of the Medicare drug benefit in 2006 reported on the problems many senior citizens faced when trying
to find out which of the many programs to select. While this is in no way pharma's responsibility, it does suggest that patient-assistance
programs, albeit creative and well-intentioned, are not providing the right kind of help. This may be an opportunity for PhRMA
and pharma companies to coordinate activities with providers and payers to make it easier for patients. Although Partnership
for Prescription assistance, on PhRMA's Web site, is not targeted to Part D patients, it is an example of a program that appears
to be giving uninsured patients the kind of assistance they need. Making Part D enrollment easier and eligible patients more
informed will mean sustained market penetration.
Certainly, greater transparency and accountability will help the industry answer to its critics instead of taking the "no
comment" approach. As Tauzin stated, "Although the pharmaceutical industry often faces a hostile environment, I want people
to remember that our main enemy is disease, especially disease where there is no treatment alternative." This is important
to all of us who are or will be "customers" of the pharmaceutical industry and have a vested interest in healthcare delivery,
an issue that will continue to play an important role in the 2008 elections—and the media that covers it.
Stephen J. Porth is a fellow of the Arrupe Center for Business Ethics and professor at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
George P. Sillup is an Arrupe Fellow and assistant professor at Saint Joseph's University. He can be reached at email@example.com