Blogs do make a difference – it’s official

Blogs “…are a real problem for drug companies…” so says Bob Ehrlich Chairman of DTC Perspectives.

“With bloggers watching most negative activities will become public.”

Bob goes on:

“My column on May 4 discussed the increasing power of pharma bloggers. Fortune Magazine, in its June 11 issue, profiles one of the most recognized bloggers, Dr. Peter Rost. The drug industry is well aware of Dr. Rost, a former Pfizer executive, who became well-known for publicly supporting drug re-importation while his company opposed it.

Today Peter Rost spends much of his blogger time looking for evidence of pharma wrong doing. His blog has become the place where whistleblowers release evidence of price fixing, off label promotion and physician unethical relationships with drug companies.

This blog and others are a real problem for drug companies. It is clear, that among the many thousands of drug reps and other insiders, there are many willing to report questionable behavior. Actual internal memos are released which makes it hard to deny the behaviors criticized. Drug companies are going to have to recognize that any internal email, memo, phone conversation, or secretly recorded meeting is likely to be public knowledge courtesy of bloggers.

The drug industry now resembles the celebrity world, where the public loves to get the inside story. Our drug industry bloggers are working hard to out scoop each other. We can expect the stories reported to be increasingly sensational in an effort to get readers. Most bloggers do not make money off their sites, but many love the press. Dr. Rost clearly enjoys being in the limelight and loves to tweak his former employer, who he says treated him badly.

I think these bloggers have enormous power. They are outside the influence of the powerful pharma companies. Drug companies can pull ad dollars from mainstream media if their news departments run unfair stories. What can they do to stop Peter Rost?

Big pharma is not helping themselves by constantly getting caught doing illegal and unethical activities. The best way to stop damaging blogs is to be ethical in all things. That unfortunately is as likely as Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton becoming C-Span viewers. Pharma companies, I believe, are not trying to do the wrong thing but when those quarterly sales targets are looming, they just cannot help but do aggressive and often questionable things. With bloggers watching, most negative activities will become public. After all, there are bound to be some angry detail reps or other insiders who want to take some revenge on their company.

I now review blogger sites such as Pharmalot, Pharmagossip, and Rost daily. Only a few months ago I was not even aware they existed. I am sure they, along with video sites such as You Tube, will increasingly influence consumers in forming their opinions on drug companies.”

For your information, DTC Perspectives Inc. is a publishing, conferences/training, and consulting company specializing in consumer marketing of pharmaceuticals. Its business is providing information to industry professionals responsible for doing DTC work for pharmaceutical companies, agencies or industry suppliers of services.


“I’m trapped” – Mother sues Glaxo over Seroxat damage

A SCOTS mum is to sue drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline after claiming their antidepressant Seroxat made her scared to leave her home, according to the Sunday Mail in Scotland

Diane Smith claims she became agoraphobic when she tried to wean herself off the controversial drug.

She even missed her son’s wedding and could not go to see her dying father as she has become a prisoner in her own home.

Diane, 43, of Thurso, Caithness, has issued a writ in the High Court in London claiming £50,000.

Seroxat has been linked to a string of suicides and users say they have suffered serious side effects, including depression.

Diane’s case is the first to be lodged over the effects of coming off the drug.

Her action was launched this year to beat an English High Court 10-year timebar as she started taking the drug in 1997.

Mum-of-four Diane was on the antidepressant for five years from August 1997 to June 2001.

She said: “I was walking on the beach with my handicapped son Lee, who is now 18, when I suddenly felt dizzy and the whole beach started to sway. It was the strangest sensation.

“I went to see the doctor who said I was suffering from stress and prescribed Seroxat.

“I was on it for five years until 2001 when suddenly the psychiatrist took me off it. Then the trouble started.

“I felt suicidal. I get panic attacks and I cannot go out. I can’t even go to the supermarket just down the road. I’m a prisoner in my own home. When my son James got married I couldn’t go. When my daughter Denise graduated I couldn’t go and when my dad died I could not be at his bedside – all because of this drug.

“I’m not really interested in the money. I’m more interested in getting the truth known because this drug is a danger.”

Her husband James, 50, said: “It’s been a terrible time for Diane and it has not been easy for the rest of us. It’s broken our hearts.”

Since it was first prescribed in 1990, Seroxat has been linked to at least 50 suicides of adults and children.

Thanks very much to Squirrel for alerting me to this story.

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