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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Patients - The Ultimate in "Influencer Marketing" for Pharmaceuticals!

Patients - The Ultimate in "Influencer Marketing" for Pharmaceuticals! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Influencer Marketing – now there’s a term that wasn’t around “back in the day” when many were just starting out. So, what exactly is Influencer Marketing?


As seen on Huffington Post, Influencer Marketing “is simply the action of promoting and selling products or services through people (influencers) who have the capacity to have an effect on the character of a brand.” That is, indeed, a very simplistic way of putting it. But, while the term “Influencer Marketing” is relatively new, the concept is not and has been evolving with the times.


Turning specifically to influencer marketing for pharmaceuticals, let’s narrow the focus to how healthcare and pharmaceutical companies partner with Patient Influencers. In his article, Perspectives on Influencer Marketing in Healthcare, Matt Breese explains that “patients are, by nature, influencers. A mother influences her family’s healthcare decisions. A cancer survivor’s poignant story influences other cancer patients. A patient with a positive hospital experience influences friends and neighbors.”


Patient Influencers do often play a role in the decision-making process of fellow patients. You might ask why someone would trust a fellow patient over a representative of the healthcare or pharmaceutical industry.


Fast forward to today’s Influencers and you’ll see a much different face. Specifically, in healthcare, Influencers today are often “regular people.” They’re not celebrities in the traditional sense of the word; however, in some cases, they are considered rock stars within the healthcare community.


Some are directly affected by a disease or are being treated with a specific product for an ailment, while others have gained so much knowledge about a condition area that they have risen to the level of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).


The common thread is that all have an ever-increasing community of followers who value their opinion.


Further Reading:

  • “Five Rules of ‘Influencer Marketing’ for Pharma”; 
  • “Another Buzzword: ‘Influencer Marketing.’ Does It Pass the Authenticity Smell Test?”; 
  • “Digital Opinion Influencers/Leaders: A Disruptive Trend in Physician Marketing?”; 
  • “Transparency is Good in Theory, But Not in Practice”; 
  • “Novartis Respects the Patient Perspective and Pays for It Too! But Is It Absolutely Transparent?”; 
  • “Survey: Should Pharma Hire Online ‘Patient Opinion Leaders’?”; 
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Patient Activists Want to See End of DTC Advertising, or at Least Be Featured in Ads

Patient Activists Want to See End of DTC Advertising, or at Least Be Featured in Ads | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Patients want drugmakers to stop viewing them as sales targets and profit drivers. Some want to see the end of direct-to-consumer advertising, while others wish pharmaceutical companies would use real patients and tell real stories in ads and education materials.

Those were just some of the revelations in a study conducted in May by WEGO Health. The survey is the first in a series of patient-engagement scorecards that WEGO plans to field. About 58% of the respondents identified themselves as patients and 23% as both patients and caregivers. The remaining respondents were either caregivers or healthcare professionals.

Roughly 36% of surveyed patients said they agree that pharma companies are working collaboratively with patients and patient leaders to improve patient engagement. But nearly 45% of respondents said that pharma–patient engagement is at a standstill and that company efforts have remained the same over the last year.

When asked to anonymously suggest one change to how pharmaceutical companies might engage with patients, advertising was one topic brought up repeatedly by respondents, with one opining that there should be “less sexual innuendo in ads” and that pharma companies should “lessen [the] number of commercials on television, as they create false expectations of the drug.”

Another participant suggested doing away with DTC advertising. “Stop direct-to-patient advertising!” the respondent wrote. “Laypeople have neither the education nor the clinical judgment to make medication decisions on their own. It puts physicians in a precarious position.”

A third criticism related to the structures and objectives of patient advisory boards. A patient influencer suggested that drugmakers should endeavor to develop “visible and noticeable use of non-token patient advisory boards.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

One way for pharma to engage with patients other than through DTC advertising is to provide scholarships for patients to attend medical and pharma industry conferences.

This article discusses that issue and suggests that the pharmaceutical industry, which claims to be "patient centric," can play a role by sponsoring Patients Included scholarships similar to how they sponsor physician continuing medical education programs for physicians. 

Topics (partial list):

  • No Patients? No Show!
  • Pharma Has Skin in This Game
  • The Patient Included Charter
  • Patient Lip Service Common, Inclusion Rare
  • Key Patient Advocates
  • What About "Ordinary Joe" Patients?

Download the full article (PDF file) here:

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