Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | March 21, 2007

Pharmaceutical PR Industry

Yesterday my view about pharmaceutical Industry changed. As a PR student, I always thought that pharmaceutical Industry was not for me. One main reason for this was that I don’t know anything beyond paracetamol in medicine and then the industry has a bad name. But I was wrong.

Many students do not think of pharmaceutical companies, but we should definitely look at this industry.  In today’s world every newspaper, magazine has an article on health. Why? Since nothing is more important and interesting than our health.

This leads me to the seminar I attended today regarding the pharmaceutical industry, given by Claire Eldridge (MD of Aurora communications) and Robert Cohen (European Communications Director of Mundipharma)

Right in the beginning of the seminar Robert Cohen says “Pharmaceutical PR is the Purest form of PR,” YA RIGHT I said to myself, but then he gave some interesting facts like only in the pharmaceutical industry you cannot advertise your drugs to the consumers and to the doctors.

Then every drug when it gets licensed passes through a vigorous process. Only after 10-12 years of R&D, a drug makes it presence in the market and then only 3 out of 10 make it through the competition. $1 Billion is spent on R&D on each product. Another point made by Robert was  “for each and every ‘buying’ decision you have to convince a multitude of disparate stakeholders, each with a very different perspective and need.  The messages are complex and in some cases you don’t have the luxury of being able to use other more direct forms of communication. Major Pharmaceutical brands are only built on the back of sound PR.”  To work with odds like that, the pharmaceutical PR is indeed the purest form of PR.

Well for my fellow students, the Pharmaceutical industry is growing, and you could be a part of an industry where you will never have any boring days, you will save many lives, travel a lot. There are group discussions you will attend, where you educate the public about medicine, make some difference in people’s lives who are ill, yes all this being in the PR pharmaceutical industry.

You do not need to have any medicine background or scientific background for this industry. As Claire said, the industry likes to pair up people with communication and medical educational background because the mixture of them can only produce a great PR for the client.

Check out www.breakthroughlive.com, where a list of many pharmaceutical companies is given. The website is based for students.

The Seroxat Issue

Of course at the end of the seminar, I asked about Seroxat, implying that the one other reason I don’t want to enter this industry is because it is quite unethical where the information is hidden from the publics, and many die because of research data not being disclosed to the public.

I was happy to see that both Claire and Robert did not try to escape the question by saying that they had nothing to do with it, rather their answer was framed in such a way that owned up to the actions of the whole industry even if their companies and they themselves weren’t involved . “It would be wrong of any organisation not to disclose data that has serious public health implications,” Robert said.  And Claire further saying that there are things which “she will not do” for the industry in regards to ethical issues.

It made me think that we are the new generation of PR, and if we are ethical, we can change people’s view that PR professionals lie quite a bit. Yes of course mistakes have been made in the past, but these practitioners showed that they care about the public and they are not just in it for the money. Furthermore, they didn’t evade the question, rather gave a transparent view of the issue. It showed that PR practioners are becoming very ethical and professional beyond many other chartered professionals. You can read further my views on ethical PR issues in my pervious blog.

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Responses

  1. With the pharmaceutical industry, comes the great responsibility as it affects the health of the mass using drugs. I would not appreciate the thought of not disclosing the serious health implications of medicines to the mass especially in a country like India wherein the drugs are available at the local chemist stores without prescription. Hence, I think serious health implications of drugs should be disclosed.

    People are becoming more health conscious and so more aware about medicines and yoga. But in India, people are still orthodox and try and avoid medicines by finding a cure by eating something natural and/or in yoga. For instance, people would avoid eating Vitamin C which is medicine for them and will try having more of orange juice or guava. Similarly, most of the pregnant women in India do not have iron tablets, prescribed by their gynecologists.

    Pharmaceutical industry in India has a great scope of PR, wherein PR can easily influence the mass and take out the fear of medicines from people’s mind. However, they should be ethical because health is an area in which no one would like to compromise in terms of negativity.

  2. Hi Rajiv – I’ve got agree with you – I have little time for Pharmaceutical PR. For the most part it’s unethical in the extreme. Glad you mentioned Seroxat to them… perhaps you might like to read more at seroxatsecrets. I’m not sure I have your faith that things are changing for the better.

    I’d like some of the Big Pharma companes to explain in detail how they test their drugs in your own country – exploiting and harming people in the process.

  3. After reading this I will definitely look at Pharma Industry as a prospect as it is an ethical form of PR unlike other industries.


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