Troubled, Some Pharmaceuticals Turn a Blind Eye to the Blogosphere

A rather sad paradox, where fear has overtaken an opportunity to improve relationships with patients and clients. While this may not hold true for every pharmaceutical company, I recently met one who had banned it’s employees from monitoring blogs, social media and the online conversation.

[Why did this pharma company ban their employees to monitor blogs? If a patient complained about a treatment or medicine having ill-effects, then the pharma would would be liable to take action]

Responding to every customer can be very, very costly, considering how many people may be talking about medicines, often anonymously in online forums.

We saw similar fear a few years ago as Finance and Insurance companies were afraid to toe-dip into the conversation due to strict government regulations, although were seeing companies like Wells Fargo launch blogs and virtual worlds, aimed at the ‘lifestyle’ discussion, rather than specifics on your checking account, or CD.

Despite this troubling limitations set on the pharma industry has resulted in low adoption, at least two brands have joined the conversation, Johnson and Johnson’s ‘Connect‘, an interactive media site, and Glaxo Smith Klein’s ‘Alliconnect‘ Blog according to Mark Senard.

[Telling employees not to look at blogs is akin as blocking Facebook at work, off duty employees will simply access it at home, or whip out their mobile phones and surf, there’s no stopping a Groundswell]

While it’s easy to outline the risks, let’s quickly talk about the opportunities: Pharma companies can improve their customer insight from an ongoing focus group, reduce time to market for new drugs by understanding risks faster and more quickly, and have a stronger connection to customers, making marketing more efficient.

If you know of any pharma companies that have turned a blind eye, or have embraced the conversation, please leave a comment below.

Update: I added “Some” pharma companies as the new title in the post.