Checking in on Pharma and YouTube

Generally speaking, the use of YouTube by the pharmaceutical industry has not been reflective of industry’s best communications work.  The medium of video has so much potential and yet it remains largely been untapped.  (See Eye on FDA “What Would it Take to Make a Great Pharma YouTube Channel” – March 7, 2011)

Video requires a great deal of commitment and time to get right from both a content and regulatory perspective, but the potential for a large payoff for the patient, caregiver and even the company is great.  Furthermore, the ability to deliver the “relationship” component inherent in the nature of social media is also quite high.

From time to time here at Eye on FDA, I perform a check on how pharma is doing with various social media platforms.  Today we look at YouTube.  The last check-in Eye on FDA performed appears to have been in December 2010.  Since then, some channels have gone to the great broadcaster in the sky, while other new ones have stepped forward to take their place.  In fact, some companies have started multiple channels.

What you will see below is the name of the channel, the number of subscribers, channel views and uploads as well as an indication whether or not the channel accepts comments. Back in December there were 21 pharma sponsored YouTube channels in the mix with there being 28 counted among today’s listing – some of which are new channels and some of which are new to my attention.  Where a channel was listed in December 2010 and again here, the change in percent of viewership, subscribers are noted.

As a comparison, the channels for the FDA and the CDC were also included, though not counted in the tally as pharma channels.  There appear to be an influx of new device related channels.

The overwhelming majority of the channels do not accept commentary from viewers, however the channel with the most views and uploads does.

A search for reliable information regarding healthcare is one of the most frequent uses of the Internet.    According to the most recent statistics, 48 hours of video are now being uploaded onto YouTube every minute.

A word of caution on the use of video for pharma.  While patients talking to patients offering support or guidance on a disease, or relaying a clinical trial experience or having a care partner talk to potential care partners out there is a great use of video, avoid patient testimonials.  In my own review of regulatory action letters by DDMAC, patient testimonials appear very difficult to get right within regulatory parameters.  That said, don’t let that be an excuse from tapping into this important medium.

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4 Responses to Checking in on Pharma and YouTube

  1. Pingback: Checking in on Pharma and YouTube | Eye on FDA | Tube Trends Pro

  2. Veronica says:

    Hi Mark, fantastic and insightful post, as always, I also found this one very helpful:

    Just one question, could you elaborate a bit more on the difficulties to get approvals for patient testimonials? What’s the rationale behind it?

    Big thanks!

    • Senak says:

      Hi there – Actually in the upcoming weeks, I’m going to produce a paper on the most common issues that have lead to NOV letters from DDMAC and I’ll be more fully explaining the video thing there. However, the short version is that testimonials, by their nature, tend to have patients say things inadvertently that are often considered outside the true label for the product. For example, saying that after taking an asthma indication, “I was able to go back to jogging five miles a day” may be true for that patient, but not true for every patient and is not an outcome seen in the clinical trials. That could result in getting dinged. But that is the very nature of a patient testimonial, to say what something did for me. That aspect of it makes it a much trickier proposition.

  3. Pingback: Do comments help your brand on Youtube? « h2onlinehu

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