Sunday, May 13, 2007

Are Critical Bloggers "Enemies" of Pharma?

More and more attention is being paid to bloggers in the Pharma BlogospherTM. There are currently several means of keeping track of all the comings and goings of blogs in this space, including:
The Pharma Blogosphere Blog: Created by John Mack, this blog offers reviews of blogs and blog postings, reader surveys, and a critical look at blogging practices and the growing interest in these blogs by the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmacentral Pageflakes: Created by Steve Woodruff who also blogs at Impactiviti, this portal is designed to give you fingertip access number of targeted blogs, so that you can more easily and quickly find updated commentary on a variety of topics. It organizes blogs by topic areas like news, marketing & training, gossip, public policy, etc. Each blog appear as a "flake" (a feed summary) showing recent posts made to the blog.

Pharmagather: This is another site that gathers feeds from blogs and displays them in chronological order -- the most recent posts at the top.

Pharma Blogs: Week in Review: An weekly e-mail newsletter from the editors of MedAdNews, it summarizes selected topics covered by pharma blogs in the past week.
Contrary to industry expectations or fears, not all pharma blogs are critical of the industry. This was revealed by the First Ever Pharma Blogosphere Readers Survey, a summary of which you can find here.

In that survey, I was careful NOT to characterize pharma blogs as "friends" or "foes" of the drug industry. Readers were asked to rate blogs according to how "supportive" or "critical" they were of the industry.

Recently, the Prescription Access Litigation (PAL) Blog, entered the Pharma Blogosphere (see "New Pharma Blog Planet Discovered"). This blog was not rated in the survey, but Jim Edwards over at BrandweekNRX took it upon himself to label the PAL blog as a "pharma enemy" (see "More of Pharma's Enemies Join the Blogosphere").

Frankly, I don't think PAL is an industry supporter, but "enemy" may be too strong a word.

Are you an "enemy" if you challenge the drug industry's illegal practices, which is the stated mission of PAL? If so, then many of us are "enemies" of pharma at one time or another.

PAL's tactics may help some lawyers get rich, but sometimes lawsuits are the only recourse to correct illegal practices committed by corporations in the US (the recent Purdue settlement with the DOJ is a good example).

But Edwards goes even further by hinting that PAL's entrance to the Pharma Blogosphere is an example of "more" pharma enemies blogging. This implies that there are currently other "enemies" in this space. I am not sure who Edwards has in mind for these other "enemies"; maybe he should just come out and say who he means.

I'm not saying that Edwards considers this blog an "enemy" of pharma, but he has definitely cast a pall over my efforts to improve pharma marketing practices and the reputation of the industry.

It's time that the industry stop labeling critics as "enemies" and circling the wagons. Instead, I suggest we step back from such labels and focus on taking a critical look at illegal, unethical, and ill-conceived practices.

1 comment:

  1. Prescription Access Litigation12:49 PM

    I took Jim Edward's designation of PAL as a pharma "enemy" as tongue-in-cheek, but it does warrant a comment.

    The pharmaceutical industry has become its own worst enemy - its pricing and marketing tactics have not only eroded the public's confidence in the industry, but have also undermined the industry's medium- and long-term health and growth, also at the detriment of patients. By focusing on me-too drugs, irresponsible marketing and patent shenanigans, the industry has gotten away from what should be its core mission: discovering new and genuinely innovative new drugs for serious diseases and conditions, and selling them at reasonable price that patients and the health care system can afford.

    So PAL is not an "enemy" of the pharmaceutical industry at all - we want the industry to act responsibly and to stop abusing the public trust.

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