Have Ever Met Someone who Made Your Medicine?
It’s very easy to like and respect someone in person who helped you during your illness. After all, the person just made your pain go away and/or saved your life. It’s natural to feel grateful and express your feelings with words and gesture if the person is right in front of you.
And there lies the problem for the pharmaceutical industry.
In the entire healthcare sector, a patient never ever interacts with someone who made the medicine – unless you call the drug helpline and you’re more likely to be anxious and/or angry if you have to do that.
We meet the doctors.
We meet the nurses.
We meet the medical assistants.
We meet the hospital admin staff.
We meet the paramedics.
We meet the pharmacists.
We meet the nutritionists.
We meet the dentists.
We meet the surgeons.
We meet the anesthesiologists.
We even interact with the insurance companies.
That does make it easier to be thankful to that group of people and that vocation if that’s represented by an actual human face. How can you not? You’re feeling better (in most cases after treatment) and you can clearly see the person’s competency and sincerity when you meet him.
Not so with the pharmaceutical company that made the medicine that treated the illness. The only medicine related interaction a patient may have is at a pharmacy or hospital when getting a drug. But that is through a doctor or a pharmacist, not the actual company rep. It’s all very transactional. The only feeling the patient has is that he paid for the medicine and that’s all there is to it.
The patient doesn’t see the care, competency, or sincerity of the group that made that medicine. No personal care or chat like you’d do with a doctor or a nurse. A doctor will share a story involving her kids or mother and you can connect, not so with the pharma scientist.
When your entire interaction with the group is “here’s your money, now give me my medicine”, is it a surprise that the pharma industry and the professionals working in it are not admired and respected like the other professionals in the healthcare sector?
That’s the way it is but it doesn’t have to be that way going forward. Nobody said that that’s the law and you can’t change it. We can definitely reach out to the society and share with them what we do, why we do it and who we are. We can either bring them to where we are or go where they are to engage.
How about sharing your employees’ stories on social media? That’s the whole point of social media is, isn’t it? Quick, easy, inexpensive, effective. It’ll definitely brighten up any social media account of any pharma company. This is just one of many, many things that can be done to have the public directly interact with the pharma company in a positive manner.
There are lots of other factors that are part of this complicated equation that is the pharma public reputation, but I think not having any direct interaction with the industry is definitely one of the main reasons why our industry is unfairly described as “faceless” or “secretive” or along those lines.
But we need to acknowledge that. And work earnestly to change that. Or at least try.