Jonathan at Dose of Digital talks about pharma’s fear of Facebook pages centering around 2 issues that pharma thinks require 24/7 monitoring: Adverse Events and negative publicity.
I hear the same excuse on why pharma companies are so scared to look at patient comments on blogs: adverse events.
I’m sorry, but adverse events are happening whether pharma companies are monitoring or not, and this is different from monitoring whether someone’s posting something “bad” about your company (newsflash: not everyone’s going to like you, better to expect it and have rules to address it than bury your head in the sand).
Adverse events are crucial for patient adherence and avoiding Facebook comments for fear of posts on AE is a missed opportunity for pharma to engage with patients in an issue that they all care about.
Patients expect drugs to work — rarely will patients want to get on a pharma page to thank the company for making a product that works. You may have a cancer patient who will do this if the company has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help the patient gain access to the drug that the patient otherwise cannot afford. But for the most part, patients have a “love-hate” relationship with pharma companies that is more “hate” than “love”, and I can’t blame patients for feeling this way.
What patients gripe about, and fear, and dread, are the adverse events.
Adverse events chip away a patient’s hope of getting better.
Adverse events erode a patient’s quality of life.
Adverse events make patients wonder, “would I rather stay ill, or deal with this horrible side effect?”
Then they look at companies avoiding discussion about something that is so key to their treatment experience, they naturally assume “profits before patients”. Never mind the realities of bureaucracy in adverse event reporting, I know it’s a bitch… the FDA knows it too.
That’s how pharma companies come across in their being so scared about Facebook.
Funny… I rarely recall pharma companies coming across scared when some of their sales and marketing teams find creative ways to fly under the radar to promote off-label. Somehow these companies are fine with breaking the law to “expand” usage of their drugs, but now they’re claiming they can’t deal with lack of guidance where Facebook pages are concerned.
Better companies pull their pages off Facebook if they are hard-headed about not allowing comments. Leave those who are more enlightened to get those patients’ eyeballs and possibly gain some goodwill.
Companies who want to control the message and behave hypocritically are doing the right thing by leaving Facebook: they aren’t adding value on the social network anyway.