PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Message sent with healthy dose of PR

MONTPELIER, VT: Jim Jeffords isn't the only Vermonter to have

stepped into the spotlight lately. On June 13 a visibly upset Gov.

Howard Dean (D-VT) raged against the pharmaceutical industry after his

Pharmacy Discount Plan (PDP) was rejected by a federal court. PDP aimed

to help reduce the costs of prescription drugs for older and

lower-income people.

The case was brought against Vermont by the Pharmaceutical Research and

Manufacturers of America. Dean, however, turned this public defeat into

a major news event and public cause, and thus wins PR Play of the


Instead of letting the court decision be the final call, Dean, a former

physician, quickly called a press conference and declared, "The

pharmaceutical industry may have won this court case, but we are not

going to roll over. I will do everything in my power to bring relief to


During the conference, Dean took the unorthodox measure of urging his

constituents to have their doctors order prescriptions through the

United Health Alliance (UHA), a Vermont group which provides a form that

doctors can fax to a Canadian pharmacy. Prescriptions in Canada can cost

as much as 90% less than the US.

Wanting his message to reach as many Vermonters as possible, Dean went

on a media blitz. He did talk radio shows, newspaper interviews and

appeared on all the major networks in his home state. He kept urging

fellow Vermonters to have doctors order prescriptions from the UHA.

The story was picked up by the national press, appearing in The New York

Times, the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as

garnering airtime on national TV in the US and Canada.

Despite the questionable legitimacy of his advice, coverage was


All of which allowed Dean to bring his vision of healthcare reform to

the public.

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