To win over patients, pharma needs to tell the truth, and nothing but, expert says

Every year, PatientView takes the temperature of patient groups around the world and delivers its verdict on the pharma business. This time around, survey respondents gave a thumbs-up to drugmakers' innovation and quality. They weren't as impressed, however, with pharma marketing.

In fact, pharma's pricing policies came in last place in the patient-group approval contest, with just 13% of respondents saying that the industry's record on fair pricing was either good or excellent. But perhaps more worrisome is the fact that only 26% said they trust pharma's marketing to be ethical. That's down 8 percentage points just since 2011.

Considering the series of marketing settlements with the U.S. government, that might not be surprising. Patients have seen the headlines about multibillion-dollar payments for off-label marketing and kickbacks. With almost every major drugmaker on the hook for breaking the marketing rules, the skepticism is a natural consequence.

Alexandra Wyke--Courtesy of PatientView

Plus, Alexandra Wyke, CEO of PatientView, points out that patients are much more savvy these days. They have reams of information online and at their fingertips. They can do their own background checks on drugs and share their newfound information with other patients in online forums and on disease-group websites.

"Patients and patient groups are getting far more adept at deciphering whether the information they get rings true to their experiences or not," Wyke told FiercePharmaMarketing via email. "Thus truthful marketing, telling the story of a product how it really is, is more effective in gaining the patient ear than hype and hope."

As an industry, pharma is just learning how to develop productive relationships with patients. Now that marketing is a two-way street, starting the conversation with solid information can touch off a wave of positive word of mouth. Doublespeak or shilly-shallying can do just the opposite.

- see the blog post from PatientView

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