Pharmaceuticals and Social Media

BARRIE, ON, August 15th, 2012 – publishes an article from Lucy Fisher, Global Events Director at Eye for Pharma discussing social media in pharmaceuticals.
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Barrie - Ontario - Canada

Aug. 14, 2012 - PRLog -- Social media blurs the lines separating industry and consumer by providing direct access and exchange.  Pharmaceutical and medical device marketers can offer value-added services to a wider audience eager for disease information.  The same marketers are exploring Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest for direct engagement.  With burgeoning numbers of physicians and patients adopting digital technologies, expectation for swift access to disease information is increasing.

Social media is rising as an information channel for patients. According to eyeforpharma’s Pharma eMarketing Strategies 2011-12, 73% of pharmaceutical and medical device marketing executives interviewed report that their company utilizes at least one form of social media. Further, 39% of respondents plan to use Facebook and for 30% of them, Google+ garnered interest.

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that Facebook has 845 million active monthly  users and Google+ has 90 million registered users and has yet to fulfill on level of engagement. While Facebook users spent an average of six to seven hours per month on the site between September 2011 and January 2012, Google+ users only spent an average of three minutes per month during the same time period. Companies pulled away from Facebook in 2011 driven by the open log policy change.

Regulatory Landscape
In late 2011 at Health Canada, an expert committee made up of individuals in marketing, IT, regulatory and compliance, was formed to draft new guidelines.  After extensive revision and consultation, Health Canada has reviewed the proposal and stated no objections to the code changes. In addition, a 16-page supplemental guideline was mainly authored by Deirdre Cozier of Sanofi Canada.  As to execution of the new policies, this year in Canada, the PAAB will revise the “PAAB Code of Advertising Acceptance” and its guidelines for Online Activities, hopefully for implementation in January 2013.

One-third of pharmaceutical and medical device marketing digital experts cited Google+ as a channel to watch for the future, highlighting the channel’s more business friendly system. “It’s going to be a definite trend”, said a new media manager at a multinational pharma company.
Google+ appears to be on the road to success, with initial sign-ups in record numbers. Initial signups numbered over 10 million, even prior to the formal launch

Dr. Kors van Wyngaarden, Director Online Marketing and Global Integrated Communications for Philips points out that users are given a high level amount of control of what, when, how and with whom they share information with on the platform. This is likely to provide more confidence for users to more fully engage and share their information. Lastly, physician and patient communities may emerge in the future, and offer industry engagement opportunities.

Future outlook
Digital experts also stressed industry’s move away from a product centric sales strategy towards a value-added model for physicians and patients – working with them on disease education and communication. Digital experts said that future marketing initiatives should have this as a key driver. With the wide availability of information on the Internet and the speed with which it can be disseminated, digital experts said that transparency has become fundamental. Simon Björklund, Nordic Business Development Manager for Bioglan AB said, “The trend is definitely transparency and availability when you work with social media. The demands are fast answers and openness which also recently became inevitable with Facebook when they decided it would not be possible to turn off the log.”  Manager with Merck, Fabrizio Caranci, said, “you cannot control everything. Patients now have the tools to discuss their disease”.
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Source:Generic Pharma 2.0
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