Does the UK have it right when it comes to pharmaceutical PR? As an American, I believe it does

Enthusiasm in abundance, friendly disposition, and unwavering team spirit - speaking as a former cheerleader, I can tell you these are mandatory qualities to possess in order to keep the crowd keen for the team.

Pharmaceutical companies in US have realised these same qualities make for the perfect drug saleswomen to jump and tumble their way toward doctors in a bid to get them to ‘cheer’ for Big Pharma.

For those doctors the Prescription Drug Pep Squad fail to reach, they are asked to join a conference call.
The dreaded conference call— the one on the all-expenses-paid, luxury golf course in Hawaii. A total drag, as anyone who has ever had to sit through one knows.

Why stop there?

Why only have a handful of people support your team, when you could have, well, everyone? After all, like any team, Big Pharma want your support!

The top cheerleaders are sent out to lobby the support of politicians, media outlets, and other institutions.

As everyone will come to see, there are a few hundred million reasons (dollars) people love Big Pharma!

My cheerleading days are long over, and I now find myself living and working in the UK, where there is a markedly different approach to pharmaceutical PR.

Through my internship in the health brands sector at an agency; I learned that not only are regulation guidelines much stricter on the whole and that any campaigning directly to consumers illegal, unlike in the US, but that the attitude toward prescription drugs as a whole is worlds different from what you observe across the pond.

Pharmaceuticals are seen, not as the occasional aid, but as a solution to every problem.

There is a drug for everything. Do you get anxious, as most people do, in public? There is Xanax.

Your teeth are pearly white, but they are probably not white enough. There is prescription whitening toothpaste to solve all of your first world problems.

Not only does this detract from those who actually have serious, diagnosable problems, it fosters drug dependency.

In a world that is becoming increasingly globalised due to advancements in technology, the American ideology of prescription drugs is slowly creeping into the UK.

It is imperative, now more than ever, that pharmaceutical PR here is utilised to ensure that the messages around prescription drugs remains responsible and ethical, and that the most accurate information is being shared to keep the public medically literate.

Failure to incorporate pharmaceutical PR into the UK health environment will result in a misinformed public, which puts those people at risk.

Shouldn’t the public know why they are supporting Big Pharma?

Taylor Darrow is a masters student and an intern in healthcare PR at GCI Health

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