A Christmas Present From the EyeonFDA Blog: Who’s Who in Life Sciences Social Media

Posted in Social Media

The incomparable Mark Senak, author of the EyeonFDA blog and social media enthusiast, offers a gift this holiday season to those of you track social media use by life sciences companies. Mark has assiduously compiled a list of the life sciences companies that use social media and their platforms of choice.

It is a comprehensive list and must have for all of you pharma social media junkies out there!

Happy Holidays!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!


An Update on Pharma Blogs

Posted in Social Media

Blogs first began appearing on the web about 10 years ago and most experts agree that they ignited the social media revolution. While blogs are the oldest form of social media, many pharma companies are reluctant to contribute to the content of the blogosphere. This is mainly because of perceived regulatory and legal issue and consequences. Nevertheless, a few intrepid big pharma companies have taken the social media plunge and currently maintain blogs with various formats and content.

From time to time, Mark Senak, author of the outstanding EyeonFDA blog, likes to check up on pharma to see how their social media experiments are going. In a post today, entitled “A Profile on Blogging By Pharma and FDA” he provides an update on pharma bloggers who he thinks are making a contribution to the life sciences community. The following is Mark’s assessment:

Johnson & Johnson–With JNJBTW, J&J has been blogging longer than any other pharma company with an archive going back to June 2007.  JNJBTW provides works to forge relationships with a broad spectrum of healthcare consumers by providing insights and resources for a variety of treatment related issues and profiles of company activities.  The blog haws multiple authors and accepts comments, though reviews them before posting according to the comments policy.  The blog has its own domain.

GSK–The More Than Medicine blog goes back to January 2009 and uses multiple authors to cover a wide span of subject matter that includes corporate social responsibility topics, chronic diseases, and current events. According to its comments policy, the blog allows for moderated comments. Entries can vary in terms of timing; with all three entries for October appearing on the same day.

AstraZeneca–Like JNJBTW and More Than Medicine, the AZHealthConnections blog takes a generalist approach by providing information on a broad spectrum of subject matter – some disease or condition specific in the areas of cancer and diabetes – but also including a public policy and general healthcare information. Residing in its own domain, the earliest archive is in October 2009 and the blog permits moderated comments according to its comments policy.

Lilly–The blog LillyPad is a more recent entry to the blogosphere begin in third quarter 2010, though no archive link is available on the landing page. LillyPad was started with a twitter handle as well of the same name, and more recently joined by a LillyPad YouTube channel called the Lilly Health Channel. The posting on the blog have frequent postings related to public policy and advocacy issues, though there is sometimes a posting on social responsibility or what it is like to work at the company. However, the focus on advocacy and policy issues (supporting innovation) seems to drive this effort in a very specific direction – being less generalist than other approaches. The comments policy is at the end of a post and states that comments are filtered – or moderated – by the company before posting.

Sanofi US–Here a company has taken a much more specific approach with a blog called Discuss Diabetes. The archive goes back to January 2011 and is therefore the newest entry and has the distinction on being the only disease/condition-specific target audience.  The blog, with its own domain, accepts and moderates comments. The focus is to provide information and resources regarding diabetes and resources for those who have it or are care partners, including such assets as its own mobile app for diabetics – Go Meals.

Pfizer–The Think Science Now blog on the Pfizer site has multiple authors who write to translate the science of medical research, though it lacks some of the traditional characteristics of a blog, such as an archive or commentary policy that was readily apparent. However, it is exemplary of the effort to aim at a specific audience of people rather than go broadly to the consuming public.

FDA–The FDA Transparency Blog first posted in November 2008 and was originally set to run for six months.  The purpose is to provide insight into how and why the agency comes to some of its decisions.  It does not have its own domain but is contained in the labyrinth of the FDA’s website.  The blog allows for moderated comments according to its comments policy, though I have not found that to necessarily be the case.

As you can see, there are not many pharma companies that maintain corporate blogs. Perhaps this may change after FDA releases it guidance on the use of social media in the life sciences industry. That said, it is anybody’s guess as to when that guidance will be issued; it already has been two years and there is no guidance yet!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!



What Do You Think: Should FDA Have a Facebook Fan Page?

Posted in Social Media

Mark Senak, social media enthusiast and author of the EyeonFDA blog, raised the question on his blog today as to whether or not the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ought to have a fan page on Facebook: the ever expanding, ubiquitous social media platform. He aptly points out that FDA has already created a channel on YouTube and has a twitter account. So, why not a fan page on Facebook, he asked.

While Mark and I agree on most things, I am not convinced that having an FDA fan page on Facebook would make a difference in the way in which FDA communicates with the American public. FDA is already behind on the social media curve and, as the FDA public hearings held late last year suggest, the agency is struggling with formulating regulatory guidelines for its use by drug and devices manufacturers. Might not creating a FDA fan page on Facebook be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s (agency) back? 

Perhaps I am overreacting to the whole Facebook phenomenon and grossly under estimating the agency’s capabilities. But I simply don’t get Facebook!  At best, it is overwhelming, difficult to navigate and seemingly cluttered mindless chatter and people engaging in Mafia wars. There is no question that a fan page would increase FDA’s exposure and its “hipness quotient” but to what end? The agency already has trouble maintaining and managing its existing web assets (have you ever tried finding information at FDA.gov?). Adding a new website would simply mean more work for overworked and underpaid government employee who seemingly play by different rules than the outside world.

Don’t get me wrong. I am an avid social media enthusiast who believes that persons who engage in social media must be “all in” to be effective. Having said that, I believe that the agency would be better served if it works to improve the navigability and accessibility to information on its existing web assets. There is no question that building an agency fan page on Facebook may convince Americans that FDA gets “the whole social media thing.” But if the fan page doesn’t provide Americans with relevant and useful scientific, medical and regulatory information, then adding a FDA fan page to Facebook will do little more than increasing the heft of an already bloated social media platform whose utility and effectiveness is already beginning to wane.

In my experience, building a website or fan page is the easy part; continuing to populate the pages and sites with useful, meaningful and temporally-relevant content is the difficult part!

Hat tip to Mark for starting the conversation!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!