NEW YORK: Drug companies that make cholesterol-lowering statins now have an "enormous window of opportunity" over the next month or so to tell the stories about their products, according to Jonathan Carson, president and CEO of BuzzMetrics, which tracks consumer "buzz."
BuzzMetrics analyzed online discussion forums three months before and two weeks after late-August news reports first questioned the effectiveness of high doses of Merck's Zocor.
While there was a four-fold increase in online posts, negative comments declined 46% and comments that were neither positive nor negative increased by 25%, making up the bulk of discussions.
Carson said that it seems people are for now uncertain about the status of statins, whose safety has rarely been questioned. "Now is not the time [for other statin makers] to retreat ... now is the time to join the discussion."
The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that high doses of Zocor were more effective than a placebo and raised the risk of muscle pain and damage.
Zocor also grabbed the greatest share of the discussion after the articles ran; it appeared in 5.7% of posts. Before the JAMA study, it had just 1.4% of posts.
"Clearly Merck is making major efforts to communicate its position," Carson said.
Merck would not comment on the analysis, which was not done for the company, or discuss its PR tactics for Zocor.