Thursday, December 09, 2010

My Pharma Social Media Communication Experiment

I'm trying a little experiment today. I'm trying to use social media -- specifically Twitter -- to directly contact the press relations people (aka corporate communications staff) at a major pharmaceutical company (ie, Pfizer) about a Lyrica print ad that I blogged about a few days ago (see "Pfizer's Latest Lyrica DTC Ad Should Be Cited By FDA as Misleading").

[SEE UPDATE AT END OF THIS POST FOR RESULTS.]

I was urged to do this after the following exchange with Bruce Grant on my Facebook Page:
  • Bruce Grant I think you should ask to see the evidence rather than speculate that it does not exist.
    Tuesday at 9:51pm · 

  • John Mack Well, Bruce, in this day and age of social media, I think what I did on my blog WAS to ask. Also, IF there is such evidence, my point is that it SHOULD be cited in the ads themselves.
    22 hours ago · 

  • Bruce Grant I remember the original social media -- mail and telephones. And when I was a journalist and had a question like this, I would call or write directly to the company with my inquiry...not wait to be overheard. Just sayin'. (BTW, did you check the Brief Summary page for references?)
    John Mack
    I did check the brief summary page, but I must admit I did not look for references. I will do that and see what I can find. Thanks for pointing that out. Usually, however, in physician ads anyway, there would be an asterisk to call attentio...n to specific sources of data cited.

    As I often say, I am NOT a journalist, especially when I am writing the blog. As you know, I have limited resources, except for my readers who often help me find answers. And that's really the point of my blog -- to stimulate discussion, which is the one thing many people say they appreciate. I will continue to respond to that need expressed by my readers.
I know for a fact that @Pfizer_news -- Pfizer's official corporate Twitter account -- follows me on Twitter. Pfizer uses this account to communicate Pfizer news to journalists among other stakeholders. Although I am not a journalist, I know that Pfizer is interested in keeping bloggers like me in the loop (see, for example, "The Social Media Revolution Will Not Be 'Televised'").

So, here's what I have done:
  1. I tweeted this today at about 7:30 AM: "I hv bn urged by @grantbw 2 contact @Pfizer_news re this Lyrica print ad that I think FDA shld cite as misleading: http://bit.ly/fGBhwl" and
  2. I DM'd (sent a direct message through Twitter to) @pfizer_news: "Who can I call about this Lyrica ad issue: http://bit.ly/fGBhwl" I also followed up with a DM giving Pfizer my phone number and direct e-mail address in case they want to respond to me "old school."
Since @Pfizer_news follows me, the person who monitors that account may see my tweet and SHOULD get my DM.

Everyone seems to be praising social media apps like Twitter for their communication abilities and I sure find it more convenient to use Twitter to contact Pfizer directly rather than witing for regular business hours to call by phone, which I know will be hellishly frustrating!. This is an experiment to see if it works. I will keep you posted.

UPDATE #1: At 11:49 AM I received this DM from @pfizer_news: "I've forwarded your message to Victoria Davis. Thanks." Victoria Davis is a Pfizer Media Relations primary care specialist who focuses on these products: Chantix, Lipitor, Apixaban, Premarin Family, Spiriva, Viagra and Pristiq. I'm not sure why @pfizer_news passed on my message to Victoria instead of, for example, Mackay Jimeson who is responsible for Lyrica, Celebrex, Spiriva, Toviaz, Dimebon, Apixaban, Tanezumab, Lipitor, Viagra, Chantix. But it's all good.

Meanwhile, beginning at about 9:10 AM I started calling by phone some of the people listed on Pfizer's News & Media page, including Chris Loder, Christine Neese, and MacKay Jimeson. I also called the general media contact number. They all were not available, so I left voicemail messages.

Finally, around 1:30 PM, Chris Loder, Pfizer's Head of US Media Relations, gave me a call and said he needed some time to research the issue, but promised someone would followup soon.

So, I'm happy to report that Pfizer is listening & responding via Twitter/social media. But I am not sure if it was Twitter or all the phone calls I made that got the attention of Chris. My bad for not doing a very good controlled study.

More later...

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:33 AM

    There is a pile of recent research on how peripheral pain, when continued over time, leads to central sensitization in the CNS and chronic pain unrelated to nociception (or external peripheral pain stimuli). Central sensitization is believed to be mediated largely through the dorsal horn of the spine, with descending inhibitory pathways modulating ascending pain pathways. Lyrica works at the alpha2-delta protein in voltage-gated calcium channels in (where else?) the dorsal horn of the spine, which may reduce central sensitization (abnormal neuronal excitability) through reduced neurotransmitter release. And it also makes more GABA available, which has a more general inhibitory effect in the brain.

    Now THAT SAID, you can't make up an indication based on your MOA or preclinical data, and I do believe that Lyrica is trying to expand its indication beyond diabetic neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia (which cannot accurately be described merely as chronic muscle pain). There are other non-opioid agents now receiving chronic musculoskeletal pain indications, and I think Lyrica is trying to muddy the waters and gain some additional share of that market without bothering to do the hard clinical research and face the enormous placebo effect that comes with any pain studies.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous,

    Thanks for that very informative comment!

    ReplyDelete