This post is part of a series reporting on a pharmaceutical industry event at which leading pharma and media specialists gathered to discuss the role of reputation. It was sponsored by CARMA, a global media intelligence provider and publisher of The Measurement Standard.
As CARMA’s Tom Vesey established in his introduction to the event, a good reputation is tricky to establish in the pharmaceutical sector. Performing well doesn’t equate to a positive standing with consumers. In fact, it can mean quite the opposite if the public believes a pharma company is profiting excessively from illness and suffering.
Moving to the group discussion, panel members began by exploring the inherent biases when assessing reputation in the pharmaceutical industry. This conversation led naturally into what it takes to develop a positive reputation in the industry.
From the regulatory side, former FDA advisor and physician Jur Strobos recommends a firm-yet-open approach from pharmaceutical companies. Firms must be able to present well-documented, reliable science to regulators to show that they are trustworthy. They must also be willing to adjust their position and products when faced with data that contradicts their own findings.
Peggy Peck, editor-in-chief at Medpage Today, backed up this idea in terms of pharma companies that fail to meet this standard. Some companies, she suggests, have an aversion to unfavorable data and will do everything they can to deny or cloud counter-arguments. The flip side of this approach is one that can save the reputation of poorly perceived pharma companies, according to Peck. “Transparency is the absolute best tool,” she says, in rehabilitation and restoration of a brand’s reputation.
“Reputation does matter,” stresses Allen Waxman, Executive Vice President at EISAI, Inc. The government plays a major role in promoting or penalizing aspects of the pharmaceutical sector, but Waxman emphasizes that it is less about the legal side and more about the general perception of a company. Fail the reputation test and it will be a rocky road to recovery for any pharma company.
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