Digital Disruption in Pharma
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It's Time for Pharma to Get on the Facebook Brandwagon, Says @zdunnhealth

It's Time for Pharma to Get on the Facebook Brandwagon, Says @zdunnhealth | Digital Disruption in Pharma |
Pharma has hidden behind the ability to turn commenting off on Facebook pages, allowing marketers to use the channel much as they would a typical web page.

I have heard too many pharma marketers tell me that they are putting up a Facebook page because it's where their audience is—this is true—but then they allow the challenge of working with their agencies, promotional review teams and communications teams, who are the internal group most skilled in leading two-way dialogue based on their media communications, to get in their way. It's hard to talk with consumers—there is a ton of vulnerability and liability tied up in our responsibility to communicate within FDA guidelines. But it is by no means impossible.

Look at what the team behind acid-reflux medication Nexium has done, for example. The brand has had an “open” branded Facebook page from the very moment the page launched late last year. There is some similarity in the responses, leading an observer to believe that it has approved responses to categorized consumer posts, but that makes it even more powerful. Nexium is literally using it as a kind of customer service platform, which is a terrific use of commercial social media. Or look at the Facebook page for Medtronic Diabetes, which is also looking to use the channel to help answer its patients' questions. Helping patients use your product will lead to greater compliance and adherence, which leads to better outcomes. And so on and so on …

Pharma, let's use this to our advantage. I encourage you to think about what service you could provide to better support your product in the marketplace. Then put yourself in your patients' shoes and understand how they could use this service to get the help they need. Then invest the time, budget and resources to partner with your internal and external folks to support this and other social-media channels as engagement platforms, not just another website. You've already spent plenty of money on those and you're probably not even sure if they are making a difference in your marketing efforts.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Hmmm... I looked searched for the Nexium FB page and immediately found Nexium24HR; - the OTC version of Nexium. It has support for consumers who are making a lot of complaints about not being able to access the advertised coupon or about how lousy the packaging is. There's a lot of negativity there. Which may be tolerable for an OTC brand, but not so much for an Rx brand.

Then there's the "unofficial" OTC Nexium FB page (, which seems to be run by the Nexium ad agency because of all the positive and "off-label" comments such as "' I take nexium to help my Barretts. Trying to not have it turn to cancer." and links to the official Nexium website and to studies disparaging the competition.

Finally, Zoe pointed me to the Rx Nexium page: which is what she is talking about. My bad.

It's interesting to note how the Nexium Rx people handle comments from visitors such as this one: "I hesitate to ask, but is there a generic for Nexium?"  How did AZ answer the question? Like a politician, it really didn't answer the question. AZ said: "Hi, Jane. Your branded prescription NEXIUM has been here for over 12 years. And even as generics become available, we’re going to continue to be here for you. We’re also offering our best savings ever, which may help you save. Our downloadable Savings Card ( allows most eligible patients to get prescription NEXIUM for $15/month or $30 for a 90-day supply. Eligibility restrictions do apply."

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Digital Disruption in Pharma
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