+44(0)208 9952500 karen.stancombe@lionsdencommunications.com LionsDen Communications Lionsden medical John Clare


Pharma and patient groups

Another interesting post from Peter H-J on Linked In suggesting pharma companies should engage more directly with patients to fill the information gap (link below).

I’m not sure how realistic it is to propose that proposal is.  It depends on what form the ‘engagement’ would take (eg websites/online chats/f2f meetings?). Cynics would say that at least doctors have the background to sort the educational wheat from the marketing chaff, and even they sometimes struggle. Many patients would potentially struggle even more. But of course just because its’ difficult or controversial doesn’t mean it’s not trying to achieve it.

Patients do have a variety of sources, only one of which is their physician. Patient support groups do some fantastic work in explaining/helping. I think that’s where there could be more open and transparent engagement with pharma co’s…at least in the short term. I know some patient groups seem embarrassed in the current climate to be seen to be engaging. We need to reassure them. They are a great resource and a credible bridge between pharma and patients.

We also need to remember (it is easy for those of us in the industry to forget this) that the pharmaceutical treatment is only part of the overall treatment plan. Patient support groups are generally very good at taking this view.


Link to Peter Hunter Johnston post: https://tinyurl.com/nwsdxku

Value of pharma-sponsored education

I see from Peter H-J on  LinkedIn that a physician spends on average 49 seconds explaining a newly prescribed medicine to a patient.  (Link below). Sales reps also have little time to explain the benefits and risks to the physician in the first place…I’m only surprised there are not fewer adverse events, and that medicines ever work at all if that it is the  starting point!

It also shows how  moves to prevent physicians attending educational events sponsored by pharma companies are short-sighted. I spoke at one this week, and by the end of the day (not because of my contribution, though I hope it helped them communicate their new knowledge beter) the docs had learned far more, from three leading professors, than they ever would from a sales rep spouting product messages. The question is:  Was it balanced? To be honest, I had worked previously on one of the new ‘competitor’ drugs, and on one of the older ‘traditional’ treatments, and I thought that both of those got a fair hearing.

It’s right that there is a debate over pharma sponsored medical education programmes. The problem is that too much of the debate is framed as ‘It’s all bad/it’s all good’. It needs to be done thoughtfully with safeguards…then we all benefit. This week’s meeting was a prime example.


See LinkedIn post on’Beyond the Pill’: https://tinyurl.com/ppc8525


Healthcare reputation talk

This week I gave a talk in Brussels about the reputation of the healthcare world.  Obviously that is driven to a large extent by pharma firms, but other elements (eg devices, consumer health, OTC meds, pharmacies) have their own challenges.  The main thrust was that we have to acknowledge that the industry is not perfect and we will never be as popular as some sectors. However, it is getting better very quickly…though we will never satisfy our fiercest critics.

I also believe that we are all ambassadors.  We can all do our bit, and that the way we  do that will vary. In the last couple of weeks I have given talks to more than a hundred people, and had small dinners with influential professors at international congresses.  Engaging with critics is a crucial part of reputation building (or should that be repairing?)

I anticipate I will be giving more talks – and running workshops – about reputation in the coming months. Let me know if you would like more info.