AZHelps is Missing the Boat (But At Least They’re On T

Wenest

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Nov 9, 2012
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I’m engaging in a discussion today with the insightful, knowledgeable John Mack, over on his excellent Pharma Marketing blog. He saw my tweet on how I was impressed with @AstraZeneca actually monitoring Twitter and selectively responding to people who mention their brands (albeit with “canned” tweets). John, however, made several observations on how this program is actually failing the patients. You can read the background in the original post, but here’s my reply – which expands the thoughts surrounding my original tweet. John, my “wow” was a reaction to a pharma company actually monitoring the Internet and acknowledging that they do so. In my experience, pharma companies do not want to monitor user generated content, because the lack of clarity in the FDA guidelines suggests they would then be responsible for reporting any adverse events that they come across. The FDA has said that they don’t expect pharma companies to monitor and take responsbility for the entire Internet, does that apply when a company publicly announces that they are reading Twitter? I think it’s a big step for AZ to monitor Twitter for mentions of their brands, and reply even with a poor canned message. Granted, this campaign could have been executed far better. I would have recommended reviewing existing posts across Twitter and other channels, and devising many more pre-written tweets for legal approval. If the copy in a tweet was pre-approved, then it would be easy to develop a “response path” chart and have someone at AZ APPROPRIATELY with the right paths. I totally agree that calling a 1-800 isn’t the right answer for everyone…if someone wanted to call a 1-800, they’d have called it already. But I also don’t know what goes on in AZ’s legal department, or what the rationale was for this approach. It seems like every pharma company’s legal department interprets guidelines differently, and convincing them of the benefits risks of a campaign can be difficult. My hypothesis is that AZ wants to track all the users they reach out to, and that’s why they’ve asked them to phone in, as opposed to just visiting the site. That way, they can be sure the conversation continues in an environment AZ is more comfortable in, which can be monitored and answered by trained AZ people. Directing patients to the phone may also be their way of guaranteeing that any adverse events are duly and appropriately recorded and reported. Still, I think this whole thing is better than the GSK approach to Avandia (ie. ignorance). Yes, @AZHelps is dropping the ball in responses – but they may be monitoring on the back-end, and gathering critical patient questions input for their product. I would sincerely hope that the questions mentions they are picking up on Twitter are going towards future product site copy. Now that they know what questions statements people are making about their product, they have more ability to re-do sites like AZandMe.com to be actually relevant to the users who need a reliable information source in the first place. Incoming search terms: azhelps
 
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