Pharmaceuticals get Social
Pharmaceuticals get social.
The Pharmaceutical business is traditionally an industry that is secretive and doesn’t collaborate easily with the market it serves. Due to costs associated with developing a new product and the need to protect their intellectual property, most medical companies choose to either not share information or solicit the views of potential customers for fear of inadvertently releasing confidential information. With the rise in reliable 3G and even 4G communications, some companies are now starting to look at ways in which the public – their ultimate customers – can help them develop the next generation of products.
Online App stores have many thousands of medical apps available for the public to download and they cover anything from simple diet instructions through how to stop smoking and on to more serious issues such as medical symptoms. While some of the information that can be recorded is unsubstantiated and is difficult to use for lack of reliable statistical analysis, much of it has the potential to help build a picture of the current state of healthcare and even whether a particular treatment is effective. Medical companies have been slow to see the potential of this kind of interaction in the past. They are now beginning to understand how feedback from the field can be a valid part of the drug and medical system development. While it may only seem like a small step, the Schering Plough Corporation in America – the makers of Claritin hay fever remedy – created and marketed an app that allowed users to establish local pollen counts and decide whether they needed to take medication. It is only a small help, but one that is appreciated by the millions of people who suffer with the problem and use the app to plan their day.
Beyond apps, the social media explosion is a tool that can be used by the pharmaceuticals, to promote, as well as, receive valuable feedback. By creating Facebook and twitter pages, a certain niche of medical users can now congregate and swap information about an illness or condition that they may have and contribute to a growing picture of how the malady is affecting the group. Drug manufacturer Sanofi has used this technology to great effect with a page built to help diabetes suffers connect and share experiences. The thought behind the move is that by interacting with suffers they can understand issues and hopefully tailor future drug releases to counter problems that the public highlight.