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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Are All Pharma Bloggers Biased Against the Industry?

Well, no! Duh! There are some blogs out there that are very supportive. But how supportive or critical are individual blogs in the pharma blogosphere and is there an overall bias one way or the other?

To answer that and other questions, Pharma Marketing Blog in associatioon with The Pharma Blogosphere Blog, hosted the First Ever Pharma Blogosphere Survey. The survey ran from 3 February 207 through 28 February 2007.

The purpose of this survey was to provide a baseline rating of readability, credibility, usefulness, and bias of 22 blogs that focus on the pharmaceutical industry. The blogs included in the survey were:
  1. BrandweekNRX
  2. Clin Psych Blog
  3. Dr. Peter Rost
  4. Drug Injury Watch
  5. Drug Wonks
  6. eDrugSearch Blog
  7. EyeOnFDA
  8. HealthcareVOX
  9. impactiviti
  10. In the Pipeline
  11. On Pharma
  12. OnThePharm
  13. Pharma Giles
  14. Pharma Gazette
  15. Pharma Marketing Blog
  16. Pharma Rag
  17. Pharma Watch
  18. PharmaEdge
  19. PharmaGossip
  20. Pharmalot
  21. Rx Daily Dose
  22. World of DTC Marketing
[To find links to all these blogs, plus gossip about the bloggers themselves, weekly summaries of what's happening in the pharma blogosphere, and reviews of blogs, visit The Pharma Blogosphere.]

The full results of the survey will be published in the April issue of Pharma Marketing News and released at the upcoming Healthcare Blogging Summit on April 30, 2007, in Las Vegas.

Paraphrasing Pfizer's defense for holding back data from its failed torcetrapib clinical trail (see "Look, Ma! No Torcetrapib Data!"), "it will take time to fully adjudicate the data and further understanding of the [survey] requires that the data be analyzed in full. As the data become available we will be working with investigators and experts to ensure a comprehensive analysis and will report through forums where scientific discussion and dissemination can occur."

But I can share some results now

Who Reads These Blogs and Why?
More than 150 people participated in the survey, but not all completed the survey or answered the most important questions. Some respondents also indicated that they never read ANY of the blogs! Obviously, these responses were discarded and we were left with 144 valid responses.

Who were these respondents? The survey asked each respondent to choose a principal affiliation from among a list provided. The following chart shows the affiliations of respondents.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Interestingly, the largest group of respondents are affiliated with drug, biotech, or medical device companies. The survey did not ask respondents for other information about themselves such as job title, so we cannot say much about what functional areas within these companies are interested in blogs. Next time, we may ask for that kind of information.

About 18% of respondents either were the author of or contibutor to a blog included in the survey.

Why Do We Read Blogs?
The survey asked repsondents to check off the reasons why they read blogs about the pharmaceutical industry. The choices were:
  • To see what bloggers may be saying about MY company or blog
  • To be entertained
  • To learn more about industry business practices, regulations, etc.
  • To keep up to date with industry news and gossip
  • Other
Respondents could check more than one answer. The results are presented in the following chart:

Click on image for an enlarged view.

"Other" reasons included:
  • Documenting Big Pharma's excesses
  • Don't know why
  • Follow competition
  • For patient safety info
  • I am interested in eDetail online programmes
  • Looking for specifics
  • Peter Rost posts some hot chicks!
  • To contribute to the conversation
  • To find story leads and comments
  • To join discussion, push debate forward
  • To learn broadly about the industry
  • To see who is influencing whom
  • Want to help demistify their dark side and change it if we can to the better
Obviously, some one needs to take up the sex appeal mantle that Peter Rost has worn until he pulled out! Maybe "Jack Friday" over at PharmaGossip will take it up?

Bias
Question #7 of the survey asked: "Please rate the following pharma-related blogs in terms of their industry bias -- very critical very support, or neutral." Respondents could answer Very supportive, Somewhat supportive, Neutral, Somewhat critical, Very critical, or No Opinion.

The results are shown in the chart below:

Click on the Image for an Enlarged View

This chart was prepared by Chris Pounds who works at Myriad Pharmaceuticals where he is responsible for marketing research, forecasting, competitive intelligence, financial modeling, and decision analysis. He really knows how to look at market research data and make some nice charts! Thanks for your help Chris.

According to Chris, the above graph "looks at Favorable (to industry) top 2 boxes (Very supportive and somewhat supportive) minus the Unfavorable to industry (bottom 2 boxes). If a blog were considered "completely balanced" then this would be zero. If everyone said the blog was pro-industry to some degree (and not neutral) this would be 100% positive."

I note that my blog, Pharma Marketing Blog, is on the "Unfavorable" side of the graph, but I think it's within the meaty "critical but helpful" to "supportive and helpful" range. That is, if you are too critical, who's going to listen to you and get ideas for improving? Yet, if you are too supportive, who's going to learn anything they already don't know? So the short range to the left and right of namby-pampy neutral is where you want to be IMHO.

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