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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Can We Pin Pharma's Bad Reputation on Trump?

Can We Pin Pharma's Bad Reputation on Trump? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The pharma industry’s reputation among patient groups in the U.S. has sunk to a recent low, and some are pointing to the country's leader as the reason.


Only 29% of groups recently surveyed by research firm PatientView believe pharma has an “excellent” or “good” corporate reputation, the most negative rating in the U.S. since 2013. That compares with 38% of global patient groups that view pharma positively, according to a new U.S.-only breakout report by PatientView.


PatientView founder and CEO Alex Wyke said in an interview that U.S. President Donald Trump may have something to do with the stat.


“Trump has changed the whole dynamics in the way pharma companies are viewed, not just in the USA but worldwide. 2016 was notable in that patient groups marked the industry down for many of their activities, but most notable was the ability of companies to adopt fair pricing policies—from the perspective of patient groups," he said via email.


Those moves to "price products fairly" only received positive reviews from 7% of U.S. groups. The other area where pharma companies are trying hard, but apparently failing in patients’ eyes, is providing services beyond products, often called "beyond the pill" services. Just 14% of groups rated the industry's efforts as “excellent” or “good.”


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Top 10 Pharma Companies with Best Reputations as Determined by Their "Friends"

Top 10 Pharma Companies with Best Reputations as Determined by Their "Friends" | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Reputation Institute named AbbVie the most reputable pharmaceutical company in today’s release of its annual Global Pharma RepTrak®. The study is based on over 16,500 reputation ratings collected during January and February 2017 among the general public in 8 key markets: Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, UK and US.


The reputation of the pharmaceutical industry is improving and is now at a strong level with the general public. Overall, the industry earned a strong RepTrak® score of 71.8, up from 68.2 in 2016. 44% of respondents viewed the industry as having an excellent reputation with a 7% point increase compared to 2016, while 26% perceived it as weak or poor, down from 35% in 2016. “The strong reputation results come as a surprise to many, who expect the general public to be very negative towards the pharmaceutical companies. However, the reputation data tells a different story,” says Kasper Ulf Nielsen, Executive Partner of Reputation Institute. “We see that the general public actually has strong positive feelings about the individual pharmaceutical companies which they see as delivering on core expectations within products and services, innovation, and leadership. This does not match the media coverage, which is very negative, but serves as a good reminder that media coverage does not equal reputation. Reputation is the perception people have, and that is what is captured in the RepTrak® study.”


The Pharma RepTrak® measures the perception of 17 pharmaceutical companies on overall reputation as well as the seven rational dimensions of reputation: products / services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance. Each company is measured by the general public who are somewhat or very familiar with the company.


The top 10 companies in the 2017 Global Pharma RepTrak® are:

  1. AbbVie
  2. Novo Nordisk
  3. Takeda
  4. Roche
  5. Janssen Pharmaceuticals
  6. Gilead Sciences
  7. Bayer
  8. MSD / Merck & Co
  9. Sanofi
  10. Eli Lilly


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Pharma Guy's insight:

While 80% of the general public feels that the pharma industry puts profits ahead of people (see Edelman study), this study says 42% of the "friendly" public - i.e., public who are somewhat or very familiar with the company - says that pharma sets prices "fairly." Of course, we are not comparing apples to apples here, but surveys of the public who are familiar with pharma companies are not very indicative of the voting public, IMHO. And the voting public is the audience pharma should be most concerned about instead of patting themselves on the back based on this study.

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Pharma Industry Reputation Hits 7-Year Low According to Harris Poll

Pharma Industry Reputation Hits 7-Year Low According to Harris Poll | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The line chart illustrates the decline of pharma’s reputation, which puts it on par with its consumer perceptions in 2010 — just before Medicare Part D was legislated and implemented, which improved pharma’s image among American health citizens (especially older patients who tend to be more frequent consumers of prescription drugs).


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Pharma Guy's insight:

Public relations efforts by the industry fails to reverse the trend!

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Harris Poll: Only Nine Percent of U.S. Consumers Believe Pharma and Biotechnology Put Patients over Profits; Only 16 Percent Believe Health Insurers Do

Harris Poll: Only Nine Percent of U.S. Consumers Believe Pharma and Biotechnology Put Patients over Profits; Only 16 Percent Believe Health Insurers Do | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Only nine percent of U.S. consumers believe pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies put patients over profits, while only 16 percent believe health insurance companies do, according to a Harris Poll® study released today. Meanwhile, 36 percent of U.S. adults believe health care providers (such as doctors and nurses) put patients over profits, compared to hospitals (23%).


"We are in the midst of a health care maelstrom," said Wendy Salomon, vice president of reputation management and public affairs at Nielsen. "Consumers see no safe port, no place where their interests are truly protected-and that lack of consumer trust is reflected in the reputational risk we see across the U.S. health care landscape."


Additionally, the Harris Poll of more than 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18+ indicates that while most are neutral toward health care industries, more consumers rate health insurance (24%) and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies (20%) with low reputations, compared to hospitals (6%), health care providers (doctors and nurses) (5%) and technology (2%). Fifty-eight percent rate the reputation of the technology industry as high, compared to health care providers (43%), hospitals (37%), pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies (20%), and health insurance companies (15%).


"There are undeniable reputational risks for pharmaceutical and health insurance companies – more so than other parts of the health care ecosystem," said Salomon. "Reputation matters to patients, care providers, investors, employees, and potential hires. Positive reputations can pave the way in times of crisis, in times of transition – and when it's critical to have a seat at the policy-setting table."


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Isis #Pharma Finally Changes Its Unfortunate Name to Avoid Confusion with Terrorists!

Isis #Pharma Finally Changes Its Unfortunate Name to Avoid Confusion with Terrorists! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

After deliberating for most of the year, Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Friday it would change its name to avoid being confused with the Islamist militant group known as ISIS.


The drugmaker – named after the Egyptian protector and healer goddess Isis, who was revered as a protector and healer – has been around for more than a quarter century.


The Carlsbad, California-based company’s stock dropped about 4% on the first trading day after the Paris attacks, for which ISIS claimed responsibility.

The biotechnology company said it would be called Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc from Dec. 22 and also changed its stock exchange ticker symbol to IONS from ISIS .

It’s been an ongoing discussion for most of this year , Chief Business Officer Sarah Boyce told Reuters.

When you talk about the company you want people to immediately think about the incredible work you’re doing to deliver transformational drugs to patients. not as an unfortunate namesake.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Recall I reported this issue back in May, 2015 (read "Hi, This is Amy from ISIS... Pharmaceuticals!" Ya Think You Should Change the Name?; 


re; Namer change: "It's not something we felt like we needed to do at this point," said Amy Blackley, associate director of corporate communications for Isis Pharmaceuticals.


Blackley does admit she's been answering the phone differently.

"It used to be 'Hi, this is Amy from Isis.'" But now she greets callers with a careful, "'Hi, this is Amy from Isis Pharmaceuticals."


But Blackley says so far the only people raising questions about the company's name have been members of the media.


"What we haven't heard is any concern from the investment community, as well as the physicians and opinion leaders we work with in the drug discovery business," she said.

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Astellas Mimics Pfizer & Launches TV Ad Campaign to Boost Its Reputation

Astellas Mimics Pfizer & Launches TV Ad Campaign to Boost Its Reputation | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Pharma company Astellas has launched a corporate branding ad with CNN that showcases the work of its employees to help patients.


The ad is part of a long-term corporate branding strategy it has worked on for several years. The company worked with CNN to develop the ad and with Edelman on corporate reputation and branding.


"Our company is only 11 years old and we are the product of a merger of two other Japanese companies," said Jeff Winton, chief communications officer at Astellas. "Obviously from a corporate branding standpoint, whenever you start over instead of using one of the predecessor’s names you’re starting from scratch again. We want to make sure our name was recognized, well known, and respected."


The spot is running during on the show "CNN Heroes" on CNN and HLN in the U.S. and on CNN International through March 2017.


While CNN’s ratings are higher in an election year, Winton said that wasn’t the only reason Astellas partnered with the network.


"’CNN Heroes’ is the part of CNN that makes people feel really good," Winton said. "It’s the unsung heroes. We tried it last year, working with this particular segment of CNN, and it worked really well."


The ad showcases Astellas’ employees and how the work they do helps patients. Winton said the target audience is the average CNN watcher, but it is also intended for Astellas employees, who Winton said are the company’s "brand ambassadors." The spot is also running on screens in Astellas’ U.S. headquarters for them to see, he added.


Earlier this year, Pfizer began a similar effort celebrating the work put into developing new drugs (read “Pfizer, U.S. Law Breaker & Tax Evader, Launches an Ad Campaign to Improve Its Rep”; Pharmaceutical companies are promoting the work of their staffers in an attempt to boost not only their individual reputations, but that of the industry as a whole in the wake of a decline in reputation largely due to pricing scandals, Winton noted.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Re: Pfizer – it may do better boosting its campaign if it were to lower the prices of vaccines. For more on that, read “Doctors Without Borders to Pfizer: We Don't Want Your ‘Free’ Vaccines. We Want Lower Prices!”;  The probable answer from Ian Read: "Sorry, guys. We got to focus on imperatives: Return on Capital." See the meme here:


Meanwhile, Astellas drugs have their own pricing issues, which are hurting the company's reputation. Read, for example, “Bitter Fruit: Astellas Taxpayer-funded Cancer Drug Costs $129,269 a Year”;

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Americans Hate the #Pharma Industry Almost as Much as They Hate U.S. Gov't!

Americans Hate the #Pharma Industry Almost as Much as They Hate U.S. Gov't! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The pharmaceutical industry theme song may be Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.”


Of 25 different business sectors, only the federal government is held in lower esteem by most Americans, according to a recent Gallup Poll. What’s more, the pharmaceutical industry last year registered its worst showing in the 16 years that Gallup has been tracking how different sectors are perceived.


To be specific, just 28 percent of Americans have a positive view of drug makers, while 19 percent reported feeling neutral and 51 percent have a negative view. This led Gallup to calculate that the pharmaceutical industry actually has a “net positive” rating of negative 23. Yes, drug makers are perceived so badly that Gallup must use tortured language to describe its results.


The findings are not all that surprising. There may be a steady stream of stories about new medicines that are producing unprecedented patient outcomes in tackling such hard-to-treat diseases as cancer and hepatitis C. But the ongoing controversy over the cost of prescription drugs may be overshadowing many of the advances made by the pharmaceutical industry.


And consider this — the results, which were released on Aug. 15, were based on a telephone survey taken between Aug. 3 and Aug. 7, of 1,032 adults, ages 18 and older. This was before the pricing flap over EpiPen caused the latest frenzy. It’s not hard to imagine that the pharmaceutical industry would have registered an even lower rating if the poll had been taken, say, last week.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Remember, this survey was conducted pre Epipen!


Although many in the industry blame the media for its bad reputation, the high cost of drugs is top of the list in reasons why the public hates pharma. Read, for example, “Should News Media ‘First, Do No Harm’ When It Comes to Covering #Pharma Drugs?”;


Meanwhile, Pharma's Rep Among Patient Groups at 4-Year High: Of course, most patient groups receive funding from the drug industry.

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Italian edition: Corporate Reputation of Pharma in 2015 - the views of 67 Italian patient groups

Italian edition: Corporate Reputation of Pharma in 2015 - the views of 67 Italian patient groups | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

This report is based on the findings of a PatientView November 2015-January 2016 survey exploring the views of 67 Italian patient groups. The report provides feedback (from the perspective of  these patient groups) on the corporate reputation of the pharma industry during 2015, as well as on the performance of 15 pharma companies trading in Italy at six key indicators that influence corporate reputation. Results are compared with those of other countries/geographic regions from the 2015 survey.

Via Lionel Reichardt / le Pharmageek
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Pfizer, U.S. Law Breaker & Tax Evader, Launches an Ad Campaign to Improve Its Rep

Pfizer, U.S. Law Breaker & Tax Evader, Launches an Ad Campaign to Improve Its Rep | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

It's been a difficult year for the drug industry —as far as reputations go.

Pharmaceutical giants and small biotechnology companies have been scrutinized for the way they price new, life-saving drugs, how they jack up prices on old drugs, and even for striking deals aimed at avoiding US taxes.

Now, Pfizer is making an effort to turn things around with a new ad campaign highlighting the science behind its products. 

"Before it became a medicine, it was an idea, an inspiration, a wild what if," the first commercial in the campaign, which aired on Monday, starts. 

All of the scientists featured in the ad work for Pfizer, and the idea is to give patients a way to connect their medications to the people who develop them. 

Pfizer has its work cut out for it. In a recent study by the Reputation Institute it had the lowest reputational ranking — based on perceptions of everything from their products to citizenship. It's perhaps not a huge surprise given that Pfizer was last in the news for its foiled efforts to relocate its tax-base outside of the US.

Pfizer's not alone in this effort to turn the story around. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the industry's largest trade group, is ramping up spending to lobby Washington, including on an ad campaign aimed at lawmakers to show how the industry advances research and development for new medical treatments.

Pfizer is also releasing mini documentaries, a little more than two minutes in length, that feature individual scientists and patients. The first of the series features Bob Abraham, Pfizer's senior vice president and group head of oncology, and Matt Hiznay, who as a medical school student was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. 

Hiznay, who is now in remission, went in to meet the Pfizer scientists who had developed the drug that helped get him there. "To meet people that have been there since the beginning and to shake their hand and look them in the eye, and say 'thank you,' it's even hard to describe that I'm here and able to do it. Years of research went into it and it's giving me years back now," he explains.

Pharma Guy's insight:

What's behind Pfizer's bad rep? It breaks the law: “Pfizer Gets Lucky: Will Pay Only $784M to DOJ for Overcharging Medicaid”; and it evades U.S. taxes (or tries to): “Obama Knocks Pfizer HQ Out of Ireland Back Into the USA”; and its "imperative" goal is to raise profits according to its CEO: “Pfizer, Channeling Shkreli, Starts New Year by Increasing Prices of Nearly 100 Drugs”; 


So. it's no surprise that it is releasing its scientist ambassadors from behind the scenes to participate in a PR campaign. This is something I suggested the pharma industry do on a regular basis (read “God Bless R&D, but Marketers May Go to Hell!”; ). I hope, however, that more rank and file scientists get the recognition they deserve and tell why they work for pharma (read, for example, “Astellas Scientist Shows How to Light Ice on Fire!”;


P.S. Pfizer, like PhRMA, uses children in its PR to add extra likability to its campaign. Read “PhRMA Exploits, er, Features 5-Year-Old with Diabetes in "Hope" Ad Campaign”;

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#Pharma is a Cesspool of Greed-Driven Corruption, Says Professor 

#Pharma is a Cesspool of Greed-Driven Corruption, Says Professor  | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Readers here have seen denunciations of the pharmaceutical industry for its routine price gouging, its deceptive marketing, R&D that makes only favorable studies available, and payoffs to prescribers, investigators, and patient advocates. Yet Donald Light, a professor at Rowan University and a research fellow at Princeton, thinks these critiques don't go far enough. He has published extensive research that leads him to label the industry a "dystopia," a cesspool of greed-driven corruption that swindles Americans and exposes us to needless harm.

In Light's view the very foundation of the pharmaceutical industry – developing therapeutics for profit – constitutes a fatal flaw that makes it resistant to major reform. Instead pharma operates, in the words of Dr. Sidney Wolfe, as the world's "largest organized crime entity."

During a productive academic career, Light has been specific and unrelenting in showing the many ways that pharma's greed exploits consumers and taxpayers. Some of his findings, sketched here, are devastating.

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Congress Nixed Tobacco TV Ads - Will it Do Same for TV #Pharma Drug Ads?

Congress Nixed Tobacco TV Ads - Will it Do Same for TV #Pharma Drug Ads? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

When ex-Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli smirked his way through congressional testimony in February, refusing to answer questions about how his former company increased prices for Daraprim, a drug used to treat cancer and AIDS, by 5,000 percent, it (understandably) stoked Washington's and the general public's ire against the pharmaceutical industry. That same month, Congress introduced legislation to ban direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug ads.


Not helping matters is this pugnacious election season that's drawn stark contrasts to the broader issue of healthcare. In other words, the pharmaceutical industry finds itself in deep damage control mode. Pharma's fight with Washington isn't new, but according to industry experts, the industry's efforts to restore its reputation have so far been lacking, and the battles with D.C. won't end in the near term.


"The tobacco industry and the oil industry are probably the only two industries who have worse reputations than the pharmaceutical industry," says John Mack, publisher and editor of Pharma Marketing News. "There's no advertising on TV for the tobacco industry anymore, so I could see why there are calls to ban TV advertising for prescription drugs."


In November 2015, the AMA [called] for a ban on DTC drug advertising altogether, saying that it inflates demands for new and more expensive drugs that may not be appropriate for patients' conditions, and blaming escalating drug prices squarely on marketing and advertising costs (

Congress followed suit in February, when Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D.-Conn.) introduced a bill calling for a three-year moratorium on advertising newly approved prescription drugs directly to consumers. Back in September, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled a plan to regulate prescription drug prices that included eliminating tax breaks for consumer advertising—a proposal that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) said "would turn back the clock on medical innovation."

Following this year's Super Bowl, which carried a spot for irritable bowel syndrome drug Xifaxan (featuring an animated pink intestine), the FDA took aim at drug ads with animated characters, announcing it would conduct a study to determine whether such figures impact consumers' perceptions or reduce their comprehension of a drug's benefits or risks ( Pharma industry experts called foul. "Marketers should be able to consider whether something is the most effective communications method. I'd hate to see aesthetic choices hampered by legislation," says Bob Brown, account services director at healthcare marketing agency Bryant Brown Healthcare.

As with every other marketer, pharma brands are zeroing in on social media and digital efforts, which are more targeted and cost-effective—and could actually give pharma companies a leg up if a DTC ban ever happened, Mack says. "There are a lot of experts and consultants in the pharmaceutical industry who think that money spent on DTC advertising is wasted," he says.

But not everyone believes the industry has succeeded in defending the right to market directly to consumers. Rich Levy, CEO of healthcare agency Myelin Communications, says that while efforts by Pfizer and PhRMA are a step in the right direction, the pharma industry still has a lot of work to do in restoring its reputation. "The industry has done a horrible job of highlighting the benefits of pharmaceutical products, or explaining why pharmaceutical products cost what they do, so they've allowed themselves to get painted as big bad guys. The average patient is going into the pharmacy and seeing that their co-pays are going up—and they're mad. They think it's the big bad drug companies' fault. [Pharma firms] have never done a good job of saying, 'Taking that pill for your high blood pressure is protecting you from life-threatening complications.' ... It doesn't help when a guy like Shkreli buys up the product and raises it by 5,000 percent overnight," he says.


Pharma Guy's insight:

I am honored to be quoted in this article. What I propose is a partial voluntary ban as an experiment. Most of the criticism of DTC advertising is focused on TV ads, which may not be as effective as the drug industry claims. I suggest that the industry adopt guidelines that eliminate TV broadcast DTC advertising of brand name drugs (new or old), but allow print and Internet-based DTC advertising. Disease awareness TV ads, which generally are not a target of DTC critics in Congress and elsewhere, can continue. Drug companies could pocket the money saved or spend it on more effective print and Web promotions or on additional disease awareness TV ads. And it may help with the industry's reputation problem.

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Former #Pharma Pfizer R&D Exec Gives Some Advice to PhRMA's New CEO

Former #Pharma Pfizer R&D Exec Gives Some Advice to PhRMA's New CEO | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

PhRMA has a new leader, Mr. Stephen J. Ubl who began his Washington tenure on Capitol Hill, serving as special assistant to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).

"Mr. Ubl has the opportunity to change the tone of the current pricing debate as well as the other issues that impact the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation," says former Pfizer Exec John LaMattina.

You have to admire Mr. Ubl for his courage in taking on this role as he couldn’t have picked a more difficult time to assume the mantel of industry spokesperson. If there is one issue that all the current candidates for the U. S. Presidency seem to agree on, it is that the pharmaceutical industry needs to be reined in, particularly with respect to drug prices. There couldn’t be a bigger bullseye on the pharmaceutical industry.

Mr. Ubl has chosen to defend other questionable positions. For example, many object to new drugs that are modest modifications over older equally effective – and likely cheaper – medicines. Mr. Ubl defended this practice saying that “What some call small changes are often important clinical advantages.” A better answer would have been that all new drugs need to demonstrate meaningful benefits over existing medications to justify their pricing. If any new drug doesn’t add value, physicians, payers and patients should stay with the lower cost drugs. He also needs to avoid such as rhetoric “The debate around drug pricing is myopic and misinformed.” Rather than telling people they don’t understand, it would be better to describe the value of new medicines and provide examples as to how breakthrough medicines save the healthcare system money and save people’s lives.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Ubl is a veteran Washington, DC insider/lobbyist, a qualification that seems to be going contrary to what the U.S. public considers appropriate for its leaders. Is PhRMA out of step with public opinion? Will it be able to influence that opinion? Or is it primarily focused on influencing lawmakers in Washington? Choosing Ubl as CEO seems to support the latter goal rather than the former.

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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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Top 10 Reasons Why You Hate Working for #Pharma

Top 10 Reasons Why You Hate Working for #Pharma | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Most professional consulting groups have all commented about the serious shortfall of working for a biopharma company. Over the last 5 years my colleagues and I have developed a list of the most common complaints about working in marketing for pharma. Here is the list…


1ne: Too many damn meetings! By far this is the top complaint we have heard. Pharma companies are matrix organizations which means meetings, a lot of meetings usually taking up employee calendars for days and weeks.


2wo Takes too long to implement programs. This is a complaint I usually hear from digital marketers. Digital marketing is about implementing with speed and testing new things. Unfortunately pharma tends to move at a snails pace which frustrates employees.


3hree: Too many “lifers”. A lifer is someone who goes from pharma company to company with outdated ideas. He,or she, is more interested in their title and political status than bringing new thinking to the organization.


4our: Our CEO is too far removed from our business and is too concerned about Wall Street rather than Main Street.


5ive: Good job, but you’re being laid off. Too many pharma companies still lay off the wrong people when one of their products comes off patent or sales decline. The idea of “finding a new job within the company” is quite common even for employees who have great reviews and have proven their value.


5 More…

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According to Edelman, 80% of People Think #Pharma Puts Profits Ahead of People

According to Edelman, 80% of People Think #Pharma Puts Profits Ahead of People | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer paints a sobering picture of the state of trust around the world…[but] the healthcare industry is making slow but steady progress. Trust in healthcare, as well as in all five subsectors of healthcare we study (pharmaceutical/drug companies, consumer health/over the counter, biotech/life sciences, insurance and hospitals/clinics), is actually on the rise, gaining momentum from last year and reversing a backwards trend we saw last year for pharma (globally and in the U.S.) and biotech (in the U.S. only).


Pharma may be up four points in the U.S., but that gives it a score of just 51, squeaking into the “neutral” range by only one point.


[Meanwhile: “Pharma Industry Reputation Hits 7-Year Low According to Harris Poll”; This poll finds only 29% of U.S. consumers think “positively” of the pharma industry.]


Pharma in particular continues to face headwinds, with the Trust Barometer showing that globally:


  • Approximately 8 in 10 people (82 percent) believe the government needs to do more to regulate the pharmaceutical industry; and
  • 8 in 10 people (80 percent) believe that the pharmaceutical industry puts profits over people.


Further Reading:

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Pharma’s Rep Among Patient Groups Sinks to Near Historical Lows

Pharma’s Rep Among Patient Groups Sinks to Near Historical Lows | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

For all the criticism that drug makers have endured in recent years, a new survey finds that they are faring worse than ever. Just 38 percent of patient groups thought the pharmaceutical industry had an “excellent” or “good” reputation last year, down from almost 45 percent in 2015 (read “Pharma's Rep Among Patient Groups at 4-Year High”;, according to PatientView, a research firm that canvassed more than 1,400 patient groups from 105 countries.


Not surprisingly, the pharmaceutical industry fares poorest when it comes to pricing.


Just 11 percent believe drug makers offer fair pricing, down from 15 percent two years ago and the lowest-ever ranking since the firm began this annual exercise in 2011. It is also worth noting that the measly 15 percent showing in 2015 was the best report card on pricing that the industry received over the past six years. In other words, patient groups have been especially unhappy about drug prices.


The patient groups were asked to assess 47 drug makers on seven traits: the extent to which the companies are focused on patients; the sort of information provided patients; patient safety; useful products; transparency; integrity, and the effectiveness of the relationships with drug makers.


For instance, 59 percent of patient groups said that drug companies were innovative, a notable drop from 69 percent in 2015 and the lowest showing since 2011. Similarly, 64 percent reported the industry makes “high quality, useful products,” down from 72 percent last year and barely exceeding the 63 percent lowest rating in 2012, which was the low point.


Further Reading:

  • Can You Trust Patient Rankings of #Pharma Corporate Reputation?; 
  • Americans Hate the #Pharma Industry Almost as Much as They Hate U.S. Gov't!; 
  • Italian edition: Corporate Reputation of Pharma in 2015 - the views of 67 Italian patient groups; 
  • 83% of Patient-Advocacy Organizations Receive Substantial Financial Support from the Drug Industry But Few Disclose How Much;

Pharma Guy's insight:

I've said that you can't trust the opinion of patient groups about the pharma industry - 88% receive money from the industry. I can't explain why all the charts dipped so dramatically in 2016 compared to 2015. There was plenty of bad press in 2015 and prior years. This survey was conducted from November 2016 to early-February 2017. Maybe it's a "Trump effect"? Or perhaps the drug industry "cut back" on the funds paid to these groups? - I read that somewhere - just 'kiddin' - I completely made that up. What? Didn't you see the air quotes?

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The World's Most Reputable Pharmaceutical Companies In 2016 According to Survey of Uninformed Consumers

The World's Most Reputable Pharmaceutical Companies In 2016 According to Survey of Uninformed Consumers | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Like in most industries, players in the pharmaceutical world get a boost when customers the world over feel that they are innovators, act responsibly and are, generally speaking, a force for good. Recently a survey was published scoring exactly how good people in developed countries all over the world feel about big pharma.


Further Reading:

Via rob halkes
Pharma Guy's insight:

NOTE: One trend pharmaceutical companies should take note of is the tendency of respondents to be uninformed or neutral about what companies actually do in certain areas. According to the survey, 12% of respondents did not have knowledge or opinion about the companies’ overall performance. Meanwhile, 11% had no knowledge of companies’ citizenship activities (promoting good causes and protecting the environment) and 14% didn’t know anything about the workplaces of the firms they were asked to score.

rob halkes's curator insight, December 27, 2016 11:20 AM

Just discovered the global pharma reputation ranking by the Reputation Institute. Based on 7 dimensions of reputation, defined by the institute, the companies were evaluated by respondents around the world. These were "Products&Services, Innovation, Workplace,Governance, Citizenship, Leadership and Performance". See the RepTrak Institute here

PatientView however has studied the global reputation of pharma companies in the perspective of patients and patient groups since 2011! See here.  Their respondents were also distinguished by those who state to be familiar with a company and  those who really worked with a company, which generates interesting data! PatientView is now preparing data such that companies can retrieve their bespoke ranking data to see how their reputation in the perspective of patients can further be improved

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Drugmakers, Facing Pricing Criticism, Sell Cures in New Ads

Drugmakers, Facing Pricing Criticism, Sell Cures in New Ads | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The spot starts dramatically with a 30-something-year-old man explaining, “Before it became a medicine, it was an idea, an inspiration, a wild what-if.” The scene duly set, the ad goes on to tell the story of the scientists at Pfizer who discovered, fought for, and brought to market the pill he had just shaken into his hand. “It became a medicine so someone who could not be cured could be — me,” he adds, swinging his son into his arms.


This Pfizer ad, Driven to Discover the Cure (read “Pfizer… Launches an Ad Campaign to Improve Its Rep”;, is one of several recent campaigns that seek to reinforce the idea that years of hard work — and heart — go into the development of new medicines. The campaigns present an image of the industry that clashes with the prevalent one — big bad pharma reaping profits hand over fist at the expense of a sick and underinformed public.


Many of these new campaigns focus on the parallel ideas of innovation and cures, despite the fact only a single class of drugs approved by the FDA in the last five years — a class led by Gilead Sciences' hepatitis-C drug Sovaldi — is considered a cure for a disease or condition.


But critics — among others, health insurers, hospital systems, pharmacy benefit managers, patient groups, and lawmakers — still believe new drugs are coming to market with excessively high price tags and the prices of old drugs are being marked up too much. Drugmakers counter they need the money they make from their therapies to reinvest in R&D.


PhRMA's From Hope to Cures campaign ( launched in 2014, but the multimillion-dollar effort introduced new elements in 2015 and again in August this year. Companies big and small have followed suit: Mallinckrodt, which markets specialty products such as the $35,000-per-dose MS drug Acthar, debuted an unbranded video campaign with a modest media buy that shares stories about patients, two of whom are the children of Mallinckrodt employees. On the other hand, Bristol-Myers Squibb's direct-to-consumer ad campaign for immuno-oncology drug Opdivo thanks the patients and physicians who participated in the therapy's clinical trial.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Related article: “The History of #Pharma Marketing from Cancer Cure Potions to ‘Cancer Cure’ Drugs”;


The drug industry still claims to have cured cancer. Read, for example, "Bayer's CEO Accuses Patients of Being Ungrateful B*stards! We Cured Cancer, Dammit!"; 

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We DO Need Another Hero: UCB Launches 'Pharma Heroes' Campaign

We DO Need Another Hero: UCB Launches 'Pharma Heroes' Campaign | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Standing up to the pharma industry has become political and media de rigueur these days, but who’s standing up for pharma? United BioSource Corp., for one.


UBC, a pharma support services company housed inside Express Scripts, is running a marketing campaign dubbed "Pharma Heroes" about its friends in the industry.


The in-house campaign--managed internally by senior marketing manager Heather Hawes and graphic designer Erik Allen--launched in January and to date has recognized more than 100 heroes from across the industry at big and small pharma companies, non-profits and healthcare providers. The heroes each receive a plaque and online recognition on the website, and UBC also donates $25 for each one to one of three charitable groups--Cancer Support Community, Global Genes, and International Medical Corps.


The idea came from UBC staffers who reported firsthand stories of how medication is changing and saving patients’ lives, Katie Rapp, UBC senior director, strategic market development.


“It struck us that these inspirational stories were at odds with the negative industry stories that dominate the news today. If we don’t start to recognize the amazing--and often heroic--work of this industry, then who will?” she said in an email interview. "When we take time to celebrate those who make the pharma industry great, individual contributions are celebrated and the collective impact of their work is elevated.”


UBC's efforts complement some of the industry's recent efforts to bolster its image, which has faced several bruising political and consumer flaps in the past year--ranging from the Turing and Valeant ($VRX) price hike scandals last fall to the more current Mylan ($MYL) EpiPen pricing controversy. Pfizer ($PFE) is currently running a corporate TV commercial that explains and celebrates the drug development process from idea to medicine, while industry organizations PhRMA and BIO both began industry reputation-boosting efforts this year focusing on pharmaceuticals’ life-sustaining benefits.


As for UBC, it'll run its program “indefinitely,” Rapp said, and it hopes to inspire a movement.


“The best thing that could happen would be for similar programs to pop up across the industry and for our collective efforts to first change the way we celebrate ourselves, and then change the way others view the industry,” she said. “Our industry has a tremendous story to tell about the people behind the science of drug development and delivery, and we feel we’re just getting started.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

This is not the first time pharma has tried something like this. Read, for example, “GSK Strikes Back with a Grassroots Campaign”; Also, listen to this podcast: “Johnson & Johnson's ennTV: An Engaging Employee News Network”;

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Should News Media "First, Do No Harm" When It Comes to Covering #Pharma Drugs?

Should News Media "First, Do No Harm" When It Comes to Covering #Pharma Drugs? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

[DTC in Perspective Chairman Bob Ehrlich says] the media seems to look for stories that show how dangerous prescription drugs can be. They routinely exploit consumer fears by over hyping a bad side effect or a death from a drug. “Deadly drug in your medicine cabinet” seems to be a popular story that is used as a teaser to get viewer attention and boost ratings.

The media seems to disregard the potential harm these stories do to patients who are taking these drugs and stop therapy after seeing the hyped risk story. Then there are those who will be scared to start taking them who would benefit. There was a very good story on Vox on an estimate of British consumers who stopped taking Lipitor. The London School of Hygiene studied the effect of negative media reporting on the use of Lipitor. They estimated 200,000 patients stopped taking the drug and estimated 2000 might suffer heart related events because of it. [See my "Insights" below.]

Drug companies are particular targets of negative coverage. The media seems to be very willing to savage a drug when a death is attributed to one. In the guise of exposing their supposed urgent news, they are in fact scaring people off life saving therapy. They force physicians to field calls from anxious patients asking to be taken off the drug mentioned. Sometimes the media may be right in exposing a bad drug but it happens rarely. Most of the time they over hype the negative leading to bad decisions by patients.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Ehrlich, it seems, exploits our fears by "hyping" a bad side effect of media drug stories: Here's what the Vox story actually reported: "researchers found that people using statins for primary prevention were 11 percent more likely to stop their treatment after the media coverage of ... controversial studies [published in the British Medical Journal]. People using statins for secondary prevention were 12 percent more likely to stop. This uptick appeared to be temporary, and quit rates returned back to expected levels six months later...The study, of course, can’t say whether the media coverage truly caused people to stop taking the drugs — simply that the two events appear to be linked."


Meanwhile, when I surveyed readers of Pharma Marketing News, "Bad Media Coverage" was lowest on the list of things that potentially causes or contributes to the drug industry's bad reputation (see chart in the post). 


Further reading: 


“What's the Cause of the Drug Industry's Bad Reputation?” (survey results); “Bad Journalism or Bad Pharma?”; “Sex, Lies, and the Media: Did Businessweek Distort the Relation Between ED Drugs and STDs?”; “Pfizer's PR Chief: ‘How in the hell do we have such a bad reputation?’";

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Two "Unbroke Girls" & George Clooney Aim to Give J&J Its Comeuppance in New Film

Two "Unbroke Girls" & George Clooney Aim to Give J&J Its Comeuppance in New Film | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

“Making a Murderer” filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos are set adapt the serialized Huffington Post article “America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker” for TV. The project is the first under a new first-look deal between Sonar Entertainment and George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures.

Written by journalist Steven Brill, “America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker” tells the story of a a division of pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson that created a powerful antipsychotic drug and marketed it aggressively to children and the elderly, while allegedly withholding data about its terrible side effects. Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay more than $2 billion in penalties and settlements, but sold a reported $30 billion worth of the drug worldwide.

Nicki Paluga will adapt the article to series with Ricciardi and Demos, with the latter two directing. The scripted event series does not yet have an episode count.

The project and the deal with Sonar are part of a continued effort by Smokehouse to push into television. The company is already developing “Ms,” a miniseries about Gloria Steinem and the founding of Ms Magazine, at HBO, and “The Studio,” about a movie studio in the 1990’s,  Showtime.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be in business with George and Grant and their talented team at Smokehouse,” said Sonar CEO Thomas Lesinski. “Smokehouse has a stellar track record of delivering commercial and critically acclaimed content. Smokehouse will be a great partner for Sonar Entertainment, as the two companies align perfectly in our approaches to premium TV programming.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

Johnson and Johnson, agreed to pay $2.2 billion to the U.S. government to end civil and criminal investigations into kickbacks to pharmacists and the marketing of pharmaceuticals for off-label uses. According to an NBC News story (here), "The settlement with the company and its subsidiaries covers the marketing of schizophrenia treatment Risperdal and of heart drug Natrecor, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity." Also read: “Money Doesn't Make Big Pharma Accountable: Why Suing Isn't Working”; 

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The Pharma Criminal & Civil Penalty Challenge!

Public Citizen released additional data on pharmaceutical industry criminal and civil settlements, stemming from its March report tallying all settlements with both federal and state governments from 1991 through 2015. The new data provide company-specific totals for the most recent 10-year period (2006-2015), which demonstrate that, for most companies, the vast majority of penalties were paid out in those 10 years since 2006. During the 10 years from 2006-2015, 21 companies entered into two or more settlements with the federal government.

The Challenge: Can you rank the Top 10 of those companies in terms of the amount paid over those 10 years? Try it here. Afterward, you'll see a chart of the actual data and see how good your ranking was.

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Men vs Women re #Pharma Trust, Pricing Issues, etc. 

Men vs Women re #Pharma Trust, Pricing Issues, etc.  | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

For the last two years, Health Perspectives Group conducted a revealing survey among women making healthcare decisions asking how much they trust the pharmaceutical industry – the WEST Survey on Pharma: Women’s Engagement, Satisfaction & Trust. This year, we also conducted the same survey among 300 men, the MENT Survey on Pharma: Men’s Engagement, Needs & Trust, again through our subsidiary Health Stories Project, an online community of people inspired to tell their health stories to help others to connect and learn.


We asked men whose opinions they would find very or extremely credible when forming an opinion of a pharmaceutical company.

  • Men’s top choice: a technical expert.
  • This is compared to women’s top choice of a friend or family member, which actually took the #2 spot for men.

We asked about specific initiatives biopharma companies could use to communicate directly with patients and caregivers to understand their needs that would have a lot of or significant impact on a company’s trustworthiness.  Both men and women agreed that direct channels that enable the industry to communicate with patients would have the most impact, but their emphasis was tellingly different.

  • Men’s top choice was creating an online community where the company and patients or caregivers could engage with one another.
  • Men’s second and third choices were methods companies can use to regularly gather feedback from patients, including focus groups and in-person or online patient/caregiver advisory meetings.
  • In contrast, women’s top three choices were reversed: their top two choices were methods companies can use to regularly gather feedback from patients, and their third option was creating an online community.


Another departure between the responses of men and women was evident when we asked if recent attention to drug pricing has changed survey respondents’ perception of the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Men were significantly less sensitive to pricing issues, with 62% of men but only 42% of women saying recent events have not changed their perception of the industry.


While we are still analyzing all the data from both the men’s and women’s surveys and we don’t want to give away all of the results, I can tell you that across the board, men have more trust in the biopharmaceutical industry than women.


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Pharma's Rep Among Patient Groups at 4-Year High

Pharma's Rep Among Patient Groups at 4-Year High | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

It seems that the pharmaceutical industry’s increasing attention on patient centricity is starting to rub off on its corporate reputation, which has hit a four year-high according to findings of the latest PatientView survey.
Pharma’s standing in this respect has hit its highest level since 2011, when the PatientView survey began, with 44.7 percent of the 1,075 responding patient groups stating that it had an “Excellent” or “Good” corporate reputation in 2015, compared with just over a third in 2012, while 28 percent said its reputation had improved during the year.

The vast majority of patient groups responding (72 percent) said that pharma as a whole was “Excellent” or “Good” during the year at producing high-quality products. But, on the downside, just 15 percent said the industry was “Excellent” or “Good” at having fair pricing policies (and at not making excessive profits), while 45 percent said pharma was poor at this activity. 
Overall, out of the 48 companies assessed for their corporate reputation by patient groups in 2015, ViiV Healthcare took the top spot again with AbbVie remaining a close second. Lundbeck moved up two places from 2014 to third place, Johnson & Johnson group Janssen jumped four place to fourth, Novo Nordisk slipped three place into fifth, and Gilead moved up eight places into 6th. 
According to the report, a number of factors influence patient groups’ opinions on the corporate standing of pharma companies, including: product launches that offer a genuine, measurable and positive impact on a medical condition; mergers & acquisitions, which are not viewed favourable particularly if they target tax bills and overheads; and drug pricing and market access, one of the most sensitive topics for patient groups.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Several of the patient organizations participating in this survey receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry.

Lionel Reichardt / le Pharmageek's curator insight, March 10, 2016 3:13 PM

Several of the patient organizations participating in this survey receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry.

Alexandre Gultzgoff's curator insight, March 11, 2016 11:51 AM

Several of the patient organizations participating in this survey receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry.

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Women Don't Trust Pharma, Study Shows

Women Don't Trust Pharma, Study Shows | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

When 94% of women describe themselves as healthcare decision makers but only 9% feel the biopharma industry is trustworthy, it’s time for action. This session will review results from two surveys. First, the 2015 WEST Survey on Pharma: Women’s Engagement, Satisfaction and Trust will reveal how 300 women making healthcare decisions measure their trust of the pharma industry and explore how patient engagement can help build a foundation of trust with this important audience. Then, new results of a followup survey conducted Spring 2016 share further insights on how price increases and other timely topics have impacted women’s perceptions of pharma since the 2015 survey.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Perhaps this has nothing to do with trusting pharma, but IMHO, women should be concerned about how they are portrayed in some drug DTC ads. For more on that, read "Women Need More Love, Less Drugs"; 

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