Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Where Have All the (Critical) Pharma Bloggers Gone, Long Time Passing?

Effective December 31, 2013, UBM Canon will cease producing the MedAdNews, Pharmalive, Pharmalot, eKnowledgeBase and R&D Directions brands (read the announcement here). Everyone in the Pharma Blogosphere was surprised and saddened by this announcement. I think Richard Meyer of World of DTC Marketing Blog expressed it best:

"This is a loss for the industry that is very much at a crossroads of marketing to patient, consumers and health care professionals. Ed Silverman, the author of Pharmalot, will especially be missed as his voice and stories added insight to the complex and changing world of healthcare marketing. We need people like Ed, John Mack and others to be the [conscience] of our industry and remind everyone that developing good products is good medicine which in turn means good business. I shall miss the publication very much."

Back in 2007 I surveyed readers and asked them: How Readable, Credible & Useful are Pharma Blogs? Pharmalot was in the number one or two position in all these categories (see chart above left and read more about the survey here).

At that time, Pharmalot was owned by The Star-Ledger of New Jersey and garnered accolades from The Financial Times and the Association of Health Care Journalists, not to mention its readers as noted in my survey. Despite such accolades, the Star-Ledger gave Pharmalot and Ed Silverman the boot in January 2009 (read "Pharmalot Folds: Good Bye and Good Luck to Ed Silverman").

Ed, however, was able to negotiate a deal with The Star-Ledger to retain the Pharmalot brand and find a new owner with the MedAdNews people. I believe this was prior to UBM Canon buying the parent company. In any case, Pharmalot lived on.

What will happen to Pharmalot this time around?

So far, Ed and everyone else at MedAdNews et al have remained silent about the announced closure and what's next. I do not know if Ed will be able to repeat the feat he engineered in 2009 to continue publication of Pharmalot under a new ownership. Although his "corporate campus" is his bedroom (see Ed's goodbye video below), it's not likely he can do the job himself and make a decent living at it. Blogs are really "loss leaders" and not profit centers.

Many of the blogs in my 2007 survey have ceased publication. I hope Pharmalot rises again and does not suffer a similar fate. EXCEPT for Pharmalot and BrandNRx, both of which were owned by media companies, all of the TOP rated blogs shown in the chart above have been running continuously since the survey was published and are active today. The survivors are owned by individuals, not media companies.

Where have all the bloggers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the bloggers gone, those who critiqued Big Pharma?
Where have all those pioneer pharma bloggers gone?
Corporate interests have picked them everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?


  1. Thanks, John. It's been a great ride, a bit like a surfboard on a corporate wave. I suppose a key difference between Pharmalot and some of the others listed was an attempt to turn it into a real business, albeit hitched to a larger wagon, as opposed to a sideshow not rooted in dollars and cents. But no regrets. I'll let you know where I show up next. Ed S

    1. Ed,

      Good luck and best wishes for a New Year. Thanks for keeping me in the loop.



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