The Blogosphere: Too Hot for Pharma? - Pharmaceutical Executive


The Blogosphere: Too Hot for Pharma?
Pharma companies would do well to proceed with extreme caution when entering the blogosphere

Pharmaceutical Executive

Set expectations Explain to users the process involved in approving feedback and comments so that they will understand why their feedback isn't immediately posted.

Create policies Establish a policy on editorial control of blog comments. Companies must develop proper disclaimers, site-use policies, and internal policies and procedures to avoid inadvertently posting adverse events or endorsing off-label uses of products that appear in the discussions.

Building a Great Pharma Blog

Blog Ad Networks
In addition to the examples listed above, there are also ways that companies can leverage blogs. If your goal is to create and maintain a blog for your company or brand, here are a few approaches you might consider:
  • Physician/expert blog According to Manhattan Research, the most popular health-related blogs are written by experts or physicians.
  • KOL blog A company can form or enhance relationships with KOLs or bloggers and feature their blog posts on the company Web site.
  • Corporate blog Create a blog about your company, focused on your R&D activities, Drug Access Programs, or other charitable initiatives in which the company is involved.

Blog monitoring

Implement tools and services to monitor blog conversation trends. Uncovering key topics surfacing within the blogosphere may inform content updates that could be made to a Web property to address a specific issue or concern in the blogosphere. While some companies fear that aggregating verbatims from the online world would also mean catching a few nasty fish (e.g., reports of adverse events), remember that unless the blogger provides sufficient information about himself and the adverse event, it's highly unlikely that a company will be required to act upon these posts. However, a trend of similar posts could also be viewed as a "safety trigger," and it might be wise to investigate this potential risk sooner rather than later—including alerting FDA via a letter. Sufficient data could prompt the company to create dedicated postmarketing studies that will explore this issue in more depth. Yes, it could be costly, but perhaps not as costly as having a drug pulled from the market.

Failing Forward

There is no magic formula for implementing a blogging strategy, nor is there one strategy that will work for all brands. The right strategy for your brand depends on the unique needs that are specific to your product, the disease state it addresses, and your target audience. Like all other strategies, it starts with a plan. Part of the plan must account for possible backlash and failure. Until the industry is willing to take a risk, it will not make the mistakes necessary to move forward and achieve success. That, perhaps, is the biggest conundrum pharma wonks face—not just as healthcare marketers, but as human beings.

Fabio Gratton is the chief innovation officer and a founding partner of Ignite Health. He can be reached at


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