I just read a press release by the British Columbia, Ministry of Health Services stating that “patients can now have their voices heard on specific drug reviews, thanks to a website launched by the Ministry of Health Services”. Wow!! The prescription drugs that are currently on the list: Uromax by Purdue Pharma, and Silkis by Galderma. The following is an excerpt from the “BC PharmaCare wants to hear your Voice” website:
Who can give input?
If you are a BC resident and answer yes to any of the following three questions for a drug listed in the table below, you can give your input:
- Do you have the medical condition for which the drug would be used?
- Are you a caregiver to someone who has that medical condition?
- Does your organization represent patients who have that medical condition?
I am not an expert in market access. But I vividly recall spending hours and hours with the market access team discussing ways to keep the PPI that I used to manage listed on the British Columbia formulary. The decision taken by British Columbia resulted in a substantial loss of market share and revenue for the brand. If only this new process were in place back then. This would have given us one more medium to motivate patients and caregivers to help keep the brand listed: social media !!! This is a great medium to network and engage with a targeted audience. I am not recommending that a pharma company only uses social media to tackle their market access objectives, but rather to consider it as a complimentary tactic along with the other traditional tactics.
Let’s not forget that in Canada, direct to consumer (DTC) advertising of Schedule F Rx products is very restricted. You can only mention product name, price and quantity. You might find the following articles helpful to better understand Canadian regulations affecting the promotion of Schedule F Rx products on social media:
- Social Media Marketing in Pharma: What Works in Canada
- PAAB Guidance on Social Media Marketing (61 slides). Enable audio on your computer as each slide has audio.
Pharma companies are probably already working with patient medical associations to reach out to Canadian patients. These organizations have more flexibility in dicussing Rx products with patients. Many of these organizations are already well established on social media. This is important because it takes time to build a network of targeted followers. Moreover, you would not meet a new person and ask for a favor right away. Same holds true on social media. You have to provide value in a consistent fashion before you can ask for something in return. If you set up your social media account just at the time that you need something, your followers may not appreciate it very much.
Because of our restrictive DTC regulations, some marketers say that they cannot use social media in Canada. Here is a case that proves that this is not true – social media is not just for marketing purposes. It can be helpful for multiple functions within an organization.
I do not know if Purdue or Galderma are already taken action on social media, but if they are, please send me a note as this would make for an excellent case study to share with other Canadian pharma marketers.
Also, do you think Canadian pharma companies will start to look at social media more seriously if they see a potential for greater market access success? Leave me a comment with your thoughts on this.
Stay in touch,