Survey shows gains made by pharma firms on social media and where they need improvement
A survey of more than 350 health activists on which pharmaceutical companies have used social media to engage patients earned pharmaceutical companies mixed reviews with some encouraged by the effort Big Pharma companies such as Sanofi (NYSE:SFY) and Novartis have made in social media channels that are geared to the diabetic and cancer patient communities.
Health activists could include epatients as well as advocates for people with a medical condition. Epatients are people with a medical condition who use the Internet and social media in particular to learn about their conditions and connect with the patient community online. Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly marketing to this population because of their frequent use of social media.
Among the questions in the survey by Boston-based WEGO Health, reported by Medical Marketing & Media, participants were asked to name a pharmaceutical company that used social media to engage patients.
Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) was cited the most followed by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Novartis and Sanofi. Some of the criticism of the pharma industry stemmed from the lack of best practices or rules of engagement on things like sponsoring social networking sites for a particular disease, paying bloggers to create content and paying for health and medical content to be placed in social media, the article said.
Sanofi has been particularly active with a Twitter account (@Diabetes_Sanofi, @Sanofi_Diabetes) and a Facebook page. In response to the ongoing criticism pharmaceutical companies get for anonymous postings on social media platforms, it introduced its online community manager Laura Kolodjeski as the author behind them.
One of the patient community sites Novartis has developed is for people with chronic myeloid leukemia called CML Earth.
Many pharmaceutical companies are still evaluating social media for patient engagement, or using it outside the U.S. That’s because they are worried about missteps that could cause them bad publicity with consumers or worse, incur warning letters with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.