In my previous post I attempted to build an argument that “classical” consumer social media like Facebook is not a good fit for a pharmaceutical company due to the way they market innovative drugs.
If you understand how pharmaceuticals are sold, this is not surprising.
What is surprising is that a lot of people seem to think it’s just a question of time before pharmaceutical companies like GSK get into social media. I claim that a fashion trend doesn’t make a business case. The buzz of social media and Twitter in 2009 reminds me of the buzz on virtual worlds in 2008.
There are 3 fundamental reasons why consumer-side social media is not a good fit for pharmas and they all relate to how prescription drugs are sold:
Poland is leading the way in Europe with a new law enacted as of December 1, 2008 that prohibits medical representatives from visiting doctors during business hours. Reps are a good source of spoon-fed science for docs, not to mention the free samples and perks at conferences. However – over 90,000 doctors in Poland have quickly adjusted to a new reality and the big pharmas like GSK, Roche, Schering-Plough / Merck have accepted that times are a changing.
Current sales indicators of how many face to face visits a rep made are not going to cut it anymore. The question is – what next?