Right Board for the Brand

Mar 01, 2013

William Looney
WE REPRESENT AN INDUSTRY whose future depends on being seen as advancing the public interest. It is illusory to think otherwise, when more than half of health spending in each of the top 10 industrialized countries is now subsidized by taxpayers and the government. As the range of stakeholders in pharma grows, it becomes necessary for anyone who follows the industry to take a curious, outward-facing perspective. This is what we strive for at Pharm Exec, where seeking the different—even odd—angle to any story is our media equivalent to proving therapeutic differentiation against the chronic illness of conventional wisdom.

EAB members, seated, left to right: Rob Dhoble, Stan Bernard, Charlene Prounis, Albert Wertheimer, James Forte, Joanna Breitstein, and Elys Roberts. Standing, left to right: Daniel Pascheles, Rich Daly, Bernard Lachapelle, Mason Tenaglia, Ken Kaitin, Bob Jansen, Michele Holcomb, Alex Scott, Peter Young, Terry Hisey, Les Funtleyder, Rajesh Nair, Bill Trombetta, William Looney, Cliff Kalb, and Ian Wilcox.
That said, Pharm Exec's best corrective on content is the 35 members of our Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), which met here in our New York office on February 28. The Board's makeup uniquely suits our status as a general read aimed at the "c suite," with representatives from big and mid-sized pharma, CROs, patient alliances, academia, and investors. Our EAB carries weight: that day, we were given the same briefing on industry regulatory developments as one new United States Senator had received from our member just a week earlier. We discussed issues ranging from the prospect of a new North American toehold for therapeutic reference pricing in Quebec to the influence that other business sectors now have in shaping pharma's global strategy. For example, will energy deregulation in Mexico unblock the capitalist "animal spirits," expand the middle class, and make it the world's most unanticipated new growth market for medicines?

In addition, the group took a fresh look at our magazine's elevator message—where business meets policy—and agreed that while the two themes are more closely joined than ever, there is a need to better communicate this message on the technology platforms where a changing audience demographic gets its information. If we succeed—and readers can already view our content on iPad—then Pharm Exec will be closer to the ultimate goal of becoming the center of conversation in a digital age. We want to serve as referee for a community that is diverse and broadly informed, spanning functions, geographies, and cultures, with a shared desire to engage around something more compelling than the reductionist formula of a 140-character word bite.

But what we like most about our EAB is the candor that comes from people comfortable in their own space of expertise. The group has an easy way with criticism—a good thing, because in my view the occasional acid reflection is a ready bar against the complacency that can kill any brand. To paraphrase the words of one famous literary wag, "this is not a [magazine] to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." What she is really saying is that indifference is the fiercest insult of all. So to all our readers: if there are things we must do to improve, don't hesitate to make that pitch. We care what you think.

William Looney Editor-in-Chief
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