Two More Pharmas Jump on the YouTube Bandwagon

While many companies are held back from participation in digital media by powerful and substantial fears of regulatory repercussions, two more companies have decided to join the ranks of Abbott, GSK, J&J and SanofiPasteur by developing a YouTube presence.  MedReg people  everywhere are grasping for smelling salts.

The first one is by AstraZeneca.  The company has developed a product-specific YouTube channel for Symbicort, a treatment for asthma.  Instead of pasting it up with converted DTC ads, the patient is the ad.  At a special Symbicort Website (Web 1.0), patients are invited to create their own video that addresses their own experience with asthma.  

Here are the criteria you must be diagnosed with asthma and be prescribed Symbicort, be over 18 and you cannot mention any medications that you have used by name, or talk about any side effects you may have experienced.  Submissions are due by March 20 and winners will be selected and posted several weeks later on the new YouTube channel called MyAsthmaStory.  There are already several videos on the site as examples.   One does wonder why a patient should enter a video and compete against others when they can start their own asthma story site themselves for free on YouTube, but presumably it would be the greater exposure offered by the MyAsthmaStory collection.

Interestingly next to each video are instructions to click on "more information" for important safety information, apparently asserting belief in the "one click" rule, which is not a rule at all, but which means that safety information should be a "click away".  Even I, digital evangelist that I am, would not have taken that kind of chance, and would have put the safety information in a sidebar.   

Unfortunately, the channel does not allow embedding, but does allow comments which must be moderated, because I posted one and when I reloaded the page, it did not appear.  The home page does NOT show you who subscribers are and does NOT list "friends" in YouTube.  Hopefully this will lead to a more integrated social media effort on the part of AZ.  They do have a Twitter account set up, but they don't use it well and in fact, did not even send out a tweet about the development of the YouTube channel.  Half the job of creating a YouTube channel is establishing – the other half is making it known.

A more user friendly channel (and one with more subscribers) is GoInsulin.  Like AZ's channel, it too is geared to getting out patient stories.   It is also extremely appealing visually, with large images of two patients who will be telling their story about experience with insulin.   I like it much better than the AZ page  because it seems less like a gimmicky contest and more like a real site for patients.  It also allows you to access other information about insulin and to access a discussion guide, which is one of the first things you see.  This site seems much more about the patient than a brand.    There is no "brand" on the page and almost no company mention.   Unlike the AZ site, this one does not allow comments.  But it does list subscribers and "friends" on its home page and J&J, wisely, is already a friend.  Eye on FDA will apply to be one shortly.  

You may have noticed, I haven't yet revealed who is being GoInsulin.  It is Sanofi Aventis.  The reason I didn't mention it is that when you visit the home YouTube page of GoInsulin, you almost don't see who is behind it.  You have to look for it.  That might make regulators uncomfortable. And, like the AZ folks, the risk information is one click away.  

Both of these efforts are breathtaking in that they appear deliberate attempts to break the stranglehold that regulatory concerns have had on social media in general and YouTube in particular.  They also both go way beyond what anyone has accomplished so far in terms of creativity and style and in an effort to engage patients.  Among the others, the J&J channel remains the most robust, while the others all lag far behind.   Most important, perhaps, is that it represents that big pharma is finally getting it – that mainstream consumers are probably at least, if not more, influenced by media that talk with them (digital and social media) than media that talk at them (broadcast).   On the Eye on FDA YouTube channel, I have a playlist of company generated videos that now number nearly 100.  

I was disappointed that neither AZ or SA engaged in online editorial outreach (at least not to me) which would have been a "must" had I been working on this (my employer FH does this sort of thing spectacularly).  Hopefully they at least sent out a Web News Release.  

My thanks to the Tweet on Twitter of my buddy Brian Reid for the heads up on this.  

By the way, the other reason I like the GoInsulin  site, is that it allows embedding of videos.  (Free the vids MAN!)

This entry was posted in New and Social Media. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Two More Pharmas Jump on the YouTube Bandwagon

  1. Jennifer says:

    The ePharma Summit conference also did a great job this week utilizing web 2.0. Through YouTube, a blog, Flickr, and Twitter, the captured many of the concepts to help Pharma successfully use Web 2.0.

  2. Mark Senak says:

    Yes, it would have been nice to be a speaker!

Comments are closed.