Healthcare: HCA offers help on dealing with media

Healthcare PR professionals are to be armed with a 'key messages' booklet to help them defend the pharmaceutical industry when confronted by the media.

The Healthcare Communications Association has produced the resource in a bid to promote the value of healthcare communications both to internal member organisations and externally.

It contains position statements on subjects over which the pharma industry has previously faced criticism.

It includes key facts and figures relating to the pharma industry in general. The resource also touches on current themes including 'disease mongering' - where the industry has been accused of making up diseases in order to manufacture and sell medicines.

The booklet is titled On The Spot. It is designed to help communicators when they are discussing the industry's work with the media, healthcare professionals, patients, carers, patient organisations, policymakers and healthcare providers.

The document was developed by members of the HCA executive committee with consultation from the wider HCA membership and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

It was launched last week at the HCA members event 'Healthcare communications and the next generation: meeting the challenges of our changing world'.

Pfizer Europe's head of international public affairs and policy Colette Goldrick launched the resource at the event and said: 'We have all felt infuriated, defensive and hard done by over the way the industry is represented. If we are going to counter misconceptions and ridiculous images of our industry we need facts.'

She added: 'It is the job of each of us to seek opportunities in social situations to get the facts out there.'

HCA chair and co-founder of Virgo Health Sarah Matthew said: 'We are not giving everyone a script, it is just a resource. It is not to be used chapter and verse, but to give communicators an idea of how to tackle difficult questions and to be consistent.'

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