Pharma and Social Media: The Leaders and Followers

The phenomenon of social media is seeing the creation of information and interest communities on an unparalled scale, and health is among the most popular.

For pharmaceutical companies, the potential benefits of using social media sites are balanced with the need to stay within the spirit and letter of regulation. Clearly, even at this relatively early stage, some of the initiatives are pushing the boundaries of what many consider to be acceptable.

Social networking cuts across geographic, social and economic boundaries – will regulators, especially in countries that seek to tightly control pharmaceutical marketing, be able to stem the tide of information and promotion coming from outside their jurisdiction?

Key opinion leaders speak out

This concise 50-plus-page report from FirstWord provides a valuable insight to the state of the pharma industry’s approach and use of social media sites. Packed with examples and insights from leading companies and opinion leaders, the report examines the social networking initiatives of 50 leading companies and establishes:

  • The level and type of activity, by company, in each of the leading social media;
  • The differing approaches being undertaken such as discussion forums, disease information sites and patient groups.

The report:

  • Examines user attitudes – genuine patient information versus cynical product support?
  • Warns of the potential PR dangers of getting it wrong;
  • Highlights US FDA regulatory pitfalls surrounding adverse event
    reporting and off-label product use;
  • Provides many case studies illustrating pharma company use;
  • Allows you to see, at a glance, which companies are most active and in what areas.

Networks covered by the report:

  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Brand-sponsored discussion groups
  • Facebook
Pharma and Social Media: The Leaders and Followers
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Publication date:
 August, 2009
Product code:
$295 Single User License
$745 Site License
$1,795 Global License

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From the report

On brand-sponsored
discussion groups

“It's when companies perhaps have company sponsored websites or affinity groups- if they seek to start controlling postings within those groups or chat rooms or if they seek to editorialise or comment on postings about promoting or adopting off-label uses then yes companies can find themselves in trouble because they have directed a discussion in manner which may be a promotion of off-label uses.”
John Serio,
Partner in Seyfarth Shaw LLP

On Facebook

“Using Facebook makes it simple to reach Gardasil’s target audience, who make up a large proportion of Facebook users, teenage girls. This fan page simply extends the brand’s website to Facebook. However, some say this is a bad example of social media because all of the social features of Facebook are disabled (for regulatory reasons apparently) by the brand. These features include the wall, discussion groups, and user submitted content. So, is this good or bad? It uses social media to effectively reach the brand’s audience right where it is, but it prevents users from actually using social tools.”
Jonathan Richman,
Worldwide Director Business Development
Bridge Worldwide