Sunday, August 15, 2010

Visiting Big Pharma

For those of you who have been following my blogs (and Larry and I are grateful to all of you, feel free to refer us to your friends), you know that I talk about “Big Pharma” a lot. Sometimes I think I get a little carried away and give folks the impression that Big Pharma is a group of people who get together in Starbucks for a latte every once and again.

I’m not sure anyone has an exact definition of who or what is in Big Pharma and it’s probably a lot like the one for art – I’ll know it when I see it.

So, I went looking for Big Pharma. Who knows, I thought to myself, maybe I’ll end up with a latte.

Stopping at one of my favorite Web research tools, Wikipedia ( ), to see what I could find I went looking for this nebulous group. Well, it turns out that there’s an entry and I’m happy to say Big Pharma is alive and well if not drinking lattes. Interestingly, keying in “Big Pharma” in the Wikipedia search field yields, drum roll please, the “pharmaceutical lobby.” I have to admit that for the all the advertising money that Big Pharma spends they’re really ought to look for some better talent if this is the best that they can get for their money. (Larry, maybe you should think about coming out of retirement, there’s money to be made here.)

According to Wikipedia, the top twenty pharmaceutical companies are represented by two trade groups, an expensive way of saying lobbyists. Being the wanderer that I am, I visited one of these trade groups’ websites. I selected
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) ( ). I must admit I was somewhat underwhelmed. Here’s why.

The site has all the requisite bells and whistles that are expected these days, Twitter, RSS syndication, electronic newsletters, even Facebook. What I couldn’t find a lot of was content. Oh, sure, there were many words. But, I couldn’t escape the sense that this was a very defensive site. (Spoiler alert – here’s where I go into my spiel about Big Pharma going away.)

PhRMA’s mission statement on the site says their goal is “is to conduct effective advocacy for public policies that encourage discovery of important new medicines for patients by pharmaceutical/biotechnology research companies.” What does that mean? Seriously, I’m not playing dumb here. I feel that they are trying to be all things to all people with this site.

If Big Pharma is really introducing new products and driving for revenue growth then why all the self justification? Does Big Pharma know something that we don’t?

Tune in next week for the next installment of my blog.

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Contributed by Guy de Lastin

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