Even as Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals made headlines for its FTC settlement, the company was working on its reputation with a corporate ad campaign. Television commercials airing recently in local markets feature patients and employees detailing how prescription drugs helped them in a series of “Patient Stories” ads.
While short on specific details—the videos don’t reveal what illnesses patients had or what treatments they used—the ads are long on praise for Mallinckrodt and the pharma industry.
Each video opens with the words “Patient Stories brought to you by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals,” followed by individual stories from caregivers or patients about how they, or their loved ones, were helped by prescribed medications. The ads all end with a variation on the phrase: “Thank you to the people at companies like Mallinckrodt for making medicines that make a difference in my life.”
The “Patient Stories” videos also reside on the Mallinckrodt website and rolled out on the company's YouTube channel in August. Mallinckrodt did not respond to requests for comment about the work.
Along with many of its specialty pharma peers, Mallinckrodt has faced intense company scrutiny and criticism over the past two years around drug pricing. Using marketing to remind people of the difference that prescription drugs can make may be one way to improve its reputation, and the industry’s, with stakeholders and consumers.
And Mallinckrodt isn't the only one to give it a shot. Amid political pressure and public pricing pushback, several other pharma companies and associations have launched similar reputation-building efforts. Pfizer’s “Before it Became a Medicine” TV ad, Merck’s online “Humans for Health” and Astellas Pharma’s corporate ads on CNN tell stories of employees hard at work to make a difference. Efforts from trade associations BIO and PhRMA, which recently launched a new push, have tried to point out the benefits of prescription drugs through the eyes of patients, pharma employees and scientists.