Go beyond pharma for a healthy reputation

By Megan Brodie 1 year ago | In Companies, ESG, Industry
  • 1 year ago
Claire Edgerton, Dirk Otto, Josie Downey and Meshlin Khouri on the Healthy Reputation panel, with WE's Gemma Hudson.

3 March 2023

Pharma needs to look to other industries if it is going to meet the growing expectations of customers and patients when it comes to patient-centricity and ultimately, to ensure it is seen as having a good reputation, industry leaders advised yesterday.

Speaking at a MedNews and WE Communications joint event on Thursday morning where research from WE’s Brands in Motion: Healthy Reputation: More than Medicine whitepaper was presented followed by a panel discussion featuring Boehringer Ingelheim ANZ GM Dirk Otto, Pfizer ANZ Patient & Healthcare Experience Lead Claire Edgerton, Merck Healthcare ANZ MD Josie Downey and Organon ANZ Communications Director Meshlin Khouri, the panellists urged industry not to look left and right, but beyond.

Pfizer’s Claire Edgerton said patients and customers were having great experiences with brands from other industries and were now rightly expecting the same from pharma companies.

“Why aren’t we delivering on those exceptional experiences?” she asked. “I think we need to step outside the building… and look at what our competitors are doing, but not pharma competitors. Non-pharma is where we need to look.”

She said Pfizer was hiring from industries such as FMCG in order to bring “a fresh mindset” to the company, while also looking at organisations like Telstra Health to see what they were doing.

Organon’s Meshlin Khouri said industry needed to be better at finding advocates that would stand along side it and talk about the importance of the work it did.

“This is something other industries have understood very, very well and have used to their advantage,” she said. “We can’t do the same thing because medicines are tightly regulated, but we do need to be better at talking about ourselves and finding advocates who will stand alongside us.”

“We’re not very good at storytelling,” added Merck’s Josie Downey, who said pharma’s story about the failures and successes that are part of bringing a medicine to market needs to be told “much more succinctly”.

“I’d like us as an industry to improve our storytelling skills to inspire society around us and show them what we do, what value we add,” she said. “I don’t think we talk a lot about the things that we do.”

The Brands in Motion research, presented at the event by WE Communications Head of APAC Strategy Brian Keenan, showed 61 per cent of HCPs felt a company’s reputation was very important to them, while HCPs ranked reputation as the number one factor that influenced their prescribing when efficacy and safety were equal.

Conversely, two in three HCPs said they would be reluctant to prescribe a product from a company that did not have a reputation as an expert in a therapeutic area, while more than half (56 per cent) of HCPs would not prescribe products from companies they did not personally believe had a good reputation.

Khouri said in her experience having worked in several industries, pharma was exceptional when it came to its efforts to meet the needs of patients, citing compassionate access programs to getting medicines into crisis zones and partnering with patient organisations.

“We do an enormous amount that goes above and beyond what I see other industries doing [but] other industries talk about it in the public arena,” she said.

“We don’t talk about what we do enough, and we don’t talk about it in a way that is relevant for Australian businesses and relevant for the Australian public.

“HCPs are also the public. They’re reading the daily papers, talking to their friends at barbecues, Googling things, so we really need to think about where it is that we need to be talking about this and who do we think we need to be having conversations with beyond the bubble of the healthcare environment itself. We need to be talking outside the bubble.”

“We all want to be associated with and to interact with individuals and organisations that have strong reputations that you trust and admire,” said Downey. “When everything else is equal, when making a purchasing decision reputation is really important.”

©MedNews 2023

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