Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Only 2% of Health Journalists Think Pharma PR & Communications Are Trustworthy

Only 2% of Health Journalists Think Pharma PR & Communications Are Trustworthy | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Healthcare communications is "on life support", with almost nine in 10 journalists unhappy with the information they receive.


New research out today reveals a huge gulf between the information provided by drug companies and what journalists actually need to create their content.


The survey, conducted by digital communications platform ISEBOX, reveals that 85 per cent of health journalists view healthcare communications as either "out of shape" or "on life support".


Half (50 per cent) admit they never visit the newsrooms of drug companies, with almost a quarter (22 per cent) calling them "unsatisfactory" and two thirds (64 per cent) saying there is "room for improvement" when it comes to the information provided.


85% of health journalists not satisfied with Pharma & Healthcare Comms

Only 2% find pharmaceutical and healthcare information trustworthy

36% feel government agencies acting on behalf of consumer best interest

Pharma Guy's insight:

But they often reprint what's in press releases verbatim. Just sayin'

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Former Washington Pol, Now CEO of BIO, Says Insurers Discriminate Against #Pharma

Former Washington Pol, Now CEO of BIO, Says Insurers Discriminate Against #Pharma | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

"Our industry has become an easy scapegoat for the real and growing problem of patient access to affordable new medications," Jim Greenwood, chief executive officer of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, will say Wednesday at the group's convention in San Francisco, according to a copy of remarks obtained by Bloomberg News. "My friends, we are fighting back."


BIO planned to hand out fact sheets to attendees with talking points to be used in defense of the industry. One key focus will be an attempt to shift more responsibility to insurers, who have called attention to drugmakers' prices.


"Insurers have been throwing the pharma and biotech industry under the bus, which is short-sighted of them," Joshua Bilenker, CEO of Loxo Oncology Inc., said Saturday in an interview at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology in Chicago. "The insurance industry has squeezed the consumer to make them mad."


Insurers have instituted policies on drug reimbursement that harm patients, according to Greenwood's remarks.


"When insurers accept patients with pre-existing conditions -- only to refuse to cover innovative medications -- there's a name for that: It's discrimination," Greenwood, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, plans to say.


Highlighting the frequency and costs of drugs that flop during development might not gain public sympathy, according to Washington Analysis' Loss.


"I'm not sure that the fact that they fail in a lot of the efforts they undertake would necessarily translate into the public feeling any compassion for the pricing, but it's certainly a story that needs to be told," he said.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Greenwood appears to put 100% of the blame on insurers and does not say anything about how much the drug industry - and especially Biotech companies - have raised drug prices recently (read, for example, “Rapid 164% Inflation in Price of Brand Name Drugs”;


BIO joins PhRMA in campaign to counteract negative press. For more on that, read: #Pharma Ramps Up Ads & Lobbying to Fend Off Rx Pricing Regulation; and PhRMA Exploits, er, Features 5-Year-Old with Diabetes in "Hope" Ad Campaign;

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Apple's Tim Cook shows how to communicate in a crisis - without bullshit

Apple's Tim Cook shows how to communicate in a crisis - without bullshit | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Apple’s in a bind. The FBI wants them to crack the encryption on a San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone. Apple believes that’s a dangerous precedent. Apple CEO Tim Cook’s open letter is breathtakingly simple and clear. Learn from it.

Here’s Apple’s logic: Breaking encryption creates a “back door.” Any such back door would inevitably get out. Thieves and foreign governments could use it. And then none of our data would be safe. Financial flows and everyday privacy use similar encryption — this precedent would threaten the same problems in those domains.

This is an unpopular position. Gloss over the details and it seems like Apple is protecting a terrorist. As Donald Trump, as always articulating the simplistic view, said, “Who do they think they are?”

In this situation, a press release would be useless. Instead, Tim Cook published an 1,100-word, plain-language open letter explaining the company’s position. I’ll take it apart and show you how and why it works. Excerpts below, with my comments in brackets....

Via Jeff Domansky
Jeff Domansky's curator insight, February 20, 2016 2:29 AM

Well-executed crisis response by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

John Norman's curator insight, February 20, 2016 2:39 PM

Crisis Management can really reveal who you are as CEO.Take some tips for Tim Cook and deliver BS free information of value.

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Four Lessons #Pharma PR Flacks Can Learn from Allergan's Blog Post

Four Lessons #Pharma PR Flacks Can Learn from Allergan's Blog Post | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Here are four lessons you need to learn from one of the most unlikely blog posts on the Internet today.

You have to have something significant to say. I’ll admit I struggled a bit as I waded through the first few paragraphs of corporate-speak about “commitment to innovation, access and responsible pricing ideals” before I got to “we will limit price increases.” But then I was hooked.

You have to be candid. Check this out. Not only does Saunders vow that, “We will not engage in the practice of taking major price increases without corresponding cost increases as our products near patent expiration,” but he accentuates the point by admitting they have done just that in the past. “While we have participated in this industry practice in the past, we will stop this practice going forward.” That’s gold, Jerry! GOLD!

It helps to speak from the heart. I’m sure Saunders’ post had to get cleared by Legal, but it still contains the language of a man who is being honest. One small example: “I don’t like what is happening, and despite the fact that it is hard to speak out publicly on this, now is the time to take action to spell out what this social contract means to me.” 

Deliver a call to action. A good blog post inspires. A great one directs people to act. And Saunders does just that. “For our industry to remain a vibrant and important part of the healthcare ecosystem, Allergan commits to this social contract and I encourage others to formulate their own self-policing actions.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

Find the blog post here: 

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PhRMA Intern Retrospective: Drug News Stories Tell Only Half the Story

PhRMA Intern Retrospective: Drug News Stories Tell Only Half the Story | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Principle #14 of the final version of PhRMA’s Guiding Principles on Direct to Consumer Advertising about Prescription Medicines, which applies to both TV and print DTC ads, states in part:

"DTC television and print advertising should be designed to achieve a balanced presentation of both the benefits and the risks associated with the advertised prescription medicine. Specifically, risks and safety information, including the substance of relevant boxed warnings, should be presented with reasonably comparable prominence to the benefit information, in a clear, conspicuous and neutral manner, and without distraction from the content."

Most drug stories reported in the press or on TV are based on press releases prepared by the PR agency that represents the pharma company that markets the drug. There are no PhRMA guidelines for drug press releases although they are regulated by the FDA and should include fair balance to comply with FDA regulations. Reporters, however, do not have to include that information in articles they write based on information in press releases.

Back in 2006, when PhRMA Intern was active, she noticed an ad that she thought violated Principle #14. Here's the story...


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Big Pharma Has Not Done Enough to Refute "Pharma Bro" Shkreli

Big Pharma Has Not Done Enough to Refute "Pharma Bro" Shkreli | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

"There is a ... subtle reason for the industry's failure to fight back [against negative public opinion]," says John Higginson, head of corporate comms at ICG. "The pharmaceutical industry is risk averse by nature." 

With lives in its hands we are grateful for this. But what is a good quality for running a pharmaceutical company does not necessarily translate into a good quality for communicating for that same firm. 

Good communications requires boldness. And it means making your case succinctly when under attack. 

When Turing Pharmaceuticals, run by rogue former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, bought the rights to an HIV drug earlier this year and then raised the price by 5,000 per cent there were many happy to point to this as an example of the way the industry behaves as a whole.
But so often [communications professionals within pharma companies] are held back by CEOs and boards [my emphasis, see my comments below] who treat their communications with the same risk aversion as they take to running the rest of their business. 

It is time to let those who are willing and able to speak up for the industry to do so. The time to stick heads above the parapet is now.
Pharma Guy's insight:

Higginson says pharma should counteract the public perception that the industry puts profits before patients. But then he says the main reason for this is CEO & board resistance. That resistance comes from the profit-motive sector of the industry. That is precisely where Martin Shkreli exists. He claimed that Delaware corporate rules require that he maximize profits. Although there is no such rule, it's what CEOs as paid to do.

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