Alternative Media: Centocor Documentary Turns Camera on Patients - Pharmaceutical Executive


Alternative Media: Centocor Documentary Turns Camera on Patients
Roll out the red carpet—pharma is going Hollywood

Pharmaceutical Executive

What did your stakeholders think when they saw it?

When we had the rough cut and people saw it, some said, "Oh, this makes sense. You're not pushing a brand name out there." Forty-seven minutes of the 58-minute film are dedicated to exploring the disease from beginning to end, and it's all done through the voice of the patients. There were concerns about whether this was going to be an infomercial or just an hour-long direct-to-consumer advertisement, and I think what people realize now is that is absolutely not what this movie is.

Why did you decide to keep the drugs in the film unbranded? Are you concerned that this documentary is going to benefit the competition?

The intent was not to push the brand name through us. The intent was to educate patients and the general public about these conditions. We wanted to raise awareness of these diseases so that society is more accepting of the conditions. And it was very important that nobody perceived InnerState as a covert way of trying to deliver branded messages.

We had all brand messages removed from the film. And, ironically, the only brand mentioned in the entire film is not a Centocor or J&J product. It's actually a competitor's product.

There is a small but vocal group of people on the Internet complaining about the film. Why do you think there's so much emotion surrounding a film like this?

I think the majority of the people who are criticizing the film are skeptical based on what they've seen in the past, and that they have not actually seen the film. I would challenge them to come to the same conclusion after having watched it.

The final third of the film is a bit jarring because it switches gears from the health history right into biologics. Was that intentional?

We tested it with other parties outside, and what's really interesting is the people who are looking for the infomercial aspect of the film typically have that feeling. But what's very important to us is how this comes across to the patients. And the patient feedback that we get is, "You know what? It's good to know that there are people out there like me that have gone through the same mental roller coaster that I've gone through with my disease—that I'm not alone out there." We didn't go right into the wonders of biologics.

In our mind, if one patient leaves the theater and goes to his physician and has an informative and balanced discussion about the benefits and risks of any product, then we've done our job. It served a purpose, and that's really what was the intention behind this film.

It just felt like the film moved a little too quickly. You have transitions from the history of the patient right into biologics as the solution.

It's certainly a valid point in terms of what your experience was. And, actually, we are beginning some focus groups to see if patients are walking away with the messages that I just described to you. Is it having the impact that we're hoping it does? And I think that if that's a widespread concern or a widespread observation that it will definitely come out through these focus groups.

Was the cost of the drugs something that you purposely left out?

This was unscripted, and, frankly, cost did not come up with any of the patients that we interviewed.

Did you pay for their treatments?

No, absolutely not. Had the patients brought up concerns about the costs or difficulty receiving reimbursement for the therapy, that would be something that we probably would have included in the film.

So it wasn't a direct omission by any stretch, but in terms of the patients that were captured in the film, they are very representative of the patients we treat.


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