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Final Social Pharmer Thoughts: Coming Back To Transparency

transparency.jpgEarlier this week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the first Social Pharmer “unconference.”  While the event was a bit more structured than most conferences of this type, there was lots of great conversation among the participants and excellent presentations made by the speakers.  I especially enjoyed Steve Woodruff’s working session where we were challenged to come up with a social media strategy in 15 minutes.  Overall, I think everyone did a very good job.

I thought I’d take a moment to come back to one of the themes I touched on in my presentation – the first of the day.  I provided examples of how pharma/health companies are using social media technologies currently.  (By the way, I love the fact that someone in the audience disagreed with one of my assertions, which led to a broader conversation in the room and on Twitter about whether the GoInsulin YouTube program was a true example of social media communications.)  However, when I discussed the issue of transparency, I put a big question mark on my slide and did not provide a concrete example.

We had a very lively discussion focusing on the following transparency related questions:

-What does it mean for a pharmaceutical company to be transparent?
-Is it possible for a pharmaceutical company to be transparent?
-What does it mean for a drug firm to be transparent in a social media context?

These are tough questions, with few easy answers.  I know as much as anyone that one cannot tell the world everything.  After all, we all have business secrets, proprietary technologies and competitive advantage to protect. However, despite these restrictions, is it possible for drug companies to be more forthcoming about other issues?  And, even if they want to, will regulators and lawyers (internal and external) let them?

I’ll leave these questions for you to ponder.  As you do this, please consider joining Shwen Gwee’s Social Pharmer social network.  This is fast becoming a gathering place for people interested in pharmaceutical marketing and social media to share ideas and collaborate in other ways.  I’m already a member.  I hope to see you there.

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3 Comments/Trackbacks

Sorry i had to miss the unconference earlier this week; would have loved to be part of your transparency discussion...Sometimes when a topic is so 'big' so to speak, its hard to make a move...pharma might be better off not worrying about the big Tranparency so to speak and begin down the path of transparency taking baby steps where ever possible...demonstating little bits of transparency on websites, sm initiatives, and hopefully by taking small steps consistently, we/pharma learn to be Transparent with a big T...

I'm sorry to have missed the conference, too, but I followed the tweets.

Did you read John Mack's post last year about "Pharma marketing is not ready for transparency?"
It talks about the alli campaign, where the marketers were very transparent about the potential side effects and in discussing the issues with consumers on their blog and discussion boards.

Just one example, and an OTC one at that, but I do think the pharma industry has more hurdles to clear regarding transparency than others. Or maybe it goes back to your first question, and we need to define what transparency means for pharma.

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