AstraZeneca turns to social media for clinical trials

WILMINGTON, DE: AstraZeneca is using social media for the first time to recruit patients for a nationwide clinical trial.

WILMINGTON, DE: AstraZeneca is using social media for the first time to recruit patients for a nationwide clinical trial.

The Phase III trial seeks to determine whether an investigational drug is safe and effective for patients suffering from opiod-induced constipation.

Dealing with a competitive clinical trial market, the pharmaceutical company believes that social media channels will provide an effective communications path due to the increasing numbers of consumers who turn to the Internet for health information.

“This seemed like another tool in our toolbox,” said Anna Padula, senior manager of brand corporate affairs strategy at AstraZeneca.

The company created a blog post with details on the clinical trials process, as well as further information on the trial. The blog post also linked to a YouTube video featuring members of AstraZeneca's clinical study team discussing the trial and eligibility criteria. The video and website both provide a phone number and website that patients can use to determine their eligibility for the trial.

Additionally, AstraZeneca is tweeting about the trial and conducting traditional media relations with consumer and health reporters.

“In key markets, we are trying to connect the local study investigator with the local media to educate people on opportunities for enrollment,” Padula added.

While social media can be a challenging space for pharmaceutical and healthcare companies to enter due to strict FDA regulations and patient privacy standards, Padula explained that social media made sense in this case because the company isn't talking about the product itself, but instead is working to communicate enrollment opportunities.

“We've been working very closely with our colleagues internally to make sure that these types of communications are all compliant and in accordance with the type of standards and procedures you would use to reach potential clinical trial subjects,” she said.

The company plans to evaluate the results of the campaign to determine if it will utilize social media for recruitment purposes in the future.

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