Well, no sooner did I find the Johnson & Johnson sponsored blog, JNJ BTW, last week than a colleague brought to my attention another blog – this one by GlaxoSmithKline and this one product-specific! The blog is called alli-connect – a place to talk about weight loss with the creators of alli.
This raises an important question. Is the pharma-freeze on new and social media thawing?
Just a few weeks ago, I was giving a talk on pharmaceuticals and new media and a representative from one large, well-known pharmaceutical company stated that they do not monitor blogs because if they see an adverse-event reported, then it would have to be investigated as a measure of pharmacovigilance. I thought that silly, to say the least, and said so. But apparently, at the same time one pharmaceutical company refused to monitor blogs, two others began writing them. And also, as I mentioned in a posting a few weeks ago, at another large pharmaceutical company, an extremely senior representative in public affairs asked me what a feed was. This reveals an incredible gap between companies that are beginning to innovate in new media, and those who still know nothing about it. It is, to say the least, an interesting dichotomy.
What this means is that somehow, GSK and J&J have both found ways to deal with the issues that others associate as barriers to new media in general, and to blogging in particular – i.e., that the department of medical regulation has to review and approve all writings and second, that if adverse events are reported through the blog by a commenter, then the company will have to investigate and report. The fact that J&J and GSK have overcome those barriers, at the very least, says something very positive about their cultures and their communications/public relations staff and leadership. That others have been afraid or ignorant, says something as well.
On Monday, I’ll provide a brief review of the alli site.