PR View by Diane Weiser

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This year has not been kind to biopharmaceutical companies. The FDA has rejected or delayed some of the most-anticipated drugs. Safety and data concerns have decimated sales of once high-flying cholesterol, anemia and diabetes drugs. And, simultaneously, traditional pathways of communication with patients and doctors—DTC, detailing, CME—have come under greater scrutiny.

Surviving in such an environment requires an even higher level of transparency, and PR plays a vital role. In such situations, companies should recognize the different stakeholders that have an interest and tailor communication to each group:

Physicians: Doctors are, by nature, data hounds. The more detail that can be provided, the better. 

Patients: PR messages should be aligned with larger marketing and advertising messages so that outreach can be consistent in tone. 

Media and Investors: Fully detailing study results and regulatory actions may mean short-term pain but it builds a rep for disclosure.

Advocates: Third-party groups play an essential role in translating the news for their members. Having them prepared for news helps solidify those relationships and helps ensure continued partnership.

Still, openness is not a panacea. The development process will always be marked by failures. But full disclosure to all affected groups can limit the damage of a negative event and help build corporate rep. 

Diane Weiser is president & COO, WeissComm Partners
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