UBC’s 'Pharma Heroes' campaign celebrates everyday pharma champs

Standing up to the pharma industry has become political and media de rigueur these days, but who’s standing up for pharma? United BioSource Corp., for one.

UBC, a pharma support services company housed inside Express Scripts ($ESRX), is running a marketing campaign dubbed "Pharma Heroes" about its friends in the industry.

The in-house campaign--managed internally by senior marketing manager Heather Hawes and graphic designer Erik Allen--launched in January and to date has recognized more than 100 heroes from across the industry at big and small pharma companies, non-profits and healthcare providers. The heroes each receive a plaque and online recognition on the website, and UBC also donates $25 for each one to one of three charitable groups--Cancer Support Community, Global Genes, and International Medical Corps.

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The idea came from UBC staffers who reported firsthand stories of how medication is changing and saving patients’ lives, Katie Rapp, UBC senior director, strategic market development, told FiercePharmaMarketing.

“It struck us that these inspirational stories were at odds with the negative industry stories that dominate the news today. If we don’t start to recognize the amazing--and often heroic--work of this industry, then who will?” she said in an email interview. "When we take time to celebrate those who make the pharma industry great, individual contributions are celebrated and the collective impact of their work is elevated.”

She cited examples ranging from big advancements in HIV, hepatitis C and oncology to the smaller everyday acts of helping patients find funding or answering caregivers’ questions in the middle of the night.

UBC's efforts complement some of the industry's recent efforts to bolster its image, which has faced several bruising political and consumer flaps in the past year--ranging from the Turing and Valeant ($VRX) price hike scandals last fall to the more current Mylan ($MYL) EpiPen pricing controversy. Pfizer ($PFE) is currently running a corporate TV commercial that explains and celebrates the drug development process from idea to medicine, while industry organizations PhRMA and BIO both began industry reputation-boosting efforts this year focusing on pharmaceuticals’ life-sustaining benefits.

As for UBC, it'll run its program “indefinitely,” Rapp said, and it hopes to inspire a movement.

“The best thing that could happen would be for similar programs to pop up across the industry and for our collective efforts to first change the way we celebrate ourselves, and then change the way others view the industry,” she said. “Our industry has a tremendous story to tell about the people behind the science of drug development and delivery, and we feel we’re just getting started.”

- see more about the program

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