Pharma's Social Media Hunger Games

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  • 03/30/2012

Last week, at the PMRG (Pharmaceutical Marketing Research Group) Annual National Conference, I participated on “The Coming of Age of Social Media and Healthcare” panel.

My fellow panelists were the always pugnacious Arnie Friede, UBC’s Pat Choumitsky, and Eric Schultz of QuantiaMD. The session was ably moderated by Mark Bard, the grand master of the Digital Health Coalition.

(Panel description and panelist bios can be found here.)

A few thoughts on the subject that arose from this event:

How many times have you heard (vis-à-vis social media and healthcare) that, “Pharma is different.” That’s true – but consumers are the same. They don’t think about why Pharma is absent from the conversation – and they don’t care.  They assume it’s because the industry “has something to hide” or that they’re afraid of mixing it up with real people in real time.

And there’s more than a little truth to that.

Is social media about “collaborating” with consumers or “cooperating” with them?  What’s the difference?  Well, cooperation happens when both sides want to survive.  Collaboration happens when they want to thrive. Collaboration means interacting honestly and transparently. And Pharma’s opportunity (within the context of social media) is to be the first among equals.

Otherwise social media becomes the healthcare Hunger Games.

Success for Pharma in social media will come through collaboration. And that doesn’t mean “selling.”

And may the odds be ever in your favor.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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