The Patient/Corporate Paradigm.

I read an interesting article in the New York Times on my flight back to Baltimore yesterday:

An MS Drug Takes a Feisty Approach Aimed at Younger Patients

The article talks about the new oral drug to treat Multiple Sclerosis made by Novartis. Or specifically, their advertising for the drug, which features actual patients! Including some who use social media. From the article, quoting Dagmar Rosa-Bjorkeson, head of Novartis’s multiple sclerosis unit.:

The campaign’s upbeat tone comes, Ms. Rosa-Bjorkeson said, from sentiments patients expressed on blogs and other forms of social media where “people were saying that ‘this disease is not going to stop me.’ ”

“Those were spirited words, with an edginess and power to them that wound up giving the campaign a bolder tone,” she said.

Okay, I’m letting that sink in for a minute…

Now, from another part of the article:

Featuring real patients “is a contemporary way to get patients to recognize their symptoms and to be more in control,” said Jeff Rothstein, a partner at Cult Health, a Cult360 ad agency. “But pharma ads have to tread a fine line so they are not seen as promoting the idea that patients should just ask the doctor to write a prescription for the drug.”

These two snippets really have me thinking about something, and I want you to think about it too if you’re out there blogging or tweeting or instagraming (is that a word?) or anything else in social media about your diabetes.

If you were asked to participate in a campaign like this, would you? Don’t forget, this is a drug and not new technology we’re talking about here. What about new technology? Would you say yes to helping to promote technology and no to helping to promote a new drug? Vice versa?

What about this: what if you were asked to participate in corporate advertising and you said no. Would you worry that companies might want to back away from engaging with patients as a result? If you did worry about that, might the idea of that change your mind?

Even though I’ve only been doing this for (almost) a year, I’m increasingly aware that we all walk a fine line when it comes to these kinds of issues (by the way, I’ve never been approached about anything like this). A finer line, perhaps, than I had considered before. And you can bet that the line will get finer and finer as the years go on.

I’m not making a judgment. I have an opinion, but I don’t want to give it here right now because I want you to think about it yourself. Think about what it might be like to participate in advertising like this, or decline to participate. Then think about the implications. Then think about the good, and possibly bad things that can happen as a result of your decision.

What would you do? How would you handle these kinds of questions? However you feel, don’t keep it to yourself. It is important to share your views. If you’re so inclined, please do so below or post something about it on your space in the social media landscape. Then come back and leave a link to it or tell me about it. I’d love to read your opinion.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Scott K. Johnson  On April 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    I’ve been watching and checking in on this post for the past few days, hoping to get a feel for what others think of this question. Bummed to see such little input.

    It’s terribly complicated,isn’t it?

    I am not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, if I used the product and believed it helped me, I would be open to exploring the idea of participating.

    I also have to consider the fact that I am trying to make a living doing what I do (freelance diabetes related projects/contracts, etc). It’s terribly hard, and most months we are barely scraping by. There are a lot of sacrifices my family and I make. But it fills my soul with satisfaction.

    That being said, would it be alright for me to consider taking on a contract or project to help feed my family and keep the lights on? I sure hope so, otherwise I’m in pretty deep water.

    But everything gets complicated when money is introduced, doesn’t it? People’s motives and ethics are questioned almost automatically. How do I keep my nose clean?

    Thanks for starting this discussion, Stephen. I hope that my comment might help encourage some more talk.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: