Case study: ABPI #ValuingMedicine campaign tackles negative perceptions of the sector

Frustration within the industry over factually inaccurate reporting prompted the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) to mount a fightback against negative preconceptions about big pharma.

It launched a multimedia, social-led #ValuingMedicine campaign last summer, in an attempt to mobilise its members and set the record straight.

The campaign set out to explain how the UK pharmaceutical industry works with the government and NHS to ensure access to new medicines.

It aimed to demystify the way prices are decided, how medicine policy works and the hurdles companies have to overcome to get new medicines onto the market.

Content was created with indisputable facts and figures about UK medicines pricing, presented in videos and GIFs.

In Autumn 2019 the campaign switched to focus on the positive difference pharma firms make to patient lives and the advances in science that arise from the sector.

A series of short videos, with accompanying GIFs, were produced, featuring ABPI experts explaining how medicines are discovered, researched and developed.

In addition, videos were made to show the importance of patient involvement in clinical trials, how patients can benefit, and how companies can do better when designing trials.

The content was launched as part of a wider comms strategy in support of the ABPI’s first report into the UK clinical trials landscape and comparisons globally, towards the end of 2019.

Key messages of the latest iteration of the campaign are the importance of the pharma sector to patient care and saving and improving lives, and the work it does with universities, research centres and the NHS to bring medicines and vaccines to patients.

The campaign is also promoting the fact that science does not just happen in university laboratories and that firms can spend up to a decade making sure the science translates to usable medicines that work and are safe.

The scientific community, general public, patients, schools and ABPI members are the key target audiences, with Twitter and LinkedIn the primary channels used to promote the campaign.

The ABPI hopes to prove the worth of pharma to a wider audience, partly through providing campaign content that can support the work of its members.

To date, about 350 individual users have posted about the campaign, resulting in a total reach of nearly 600,000 people.

Social-media posts have been regularly shared by ABPI members; government departments such as the Department of Health and Social Care; NHS England; and health charities and research institutions.

Elaine Towell, head of media and comms at the ABPI, told PRWeek: “As the trade body for the pharmaceutical industry we’re a voice for all our members. Our content needs to reflect this. This campaign has always been about staying true to our aim of being a fact-based voice of reason for our industry, whether that’s making sure that commentary on medicines pricing and policy is accurate, or explaining how the science behind medicines discovery really works.”

She added: “The content we are making aims to do this in a simple and informative way and is aimed at those we work with – patients, charities, government, media and the science community. We’re seeing the content shared widely by advocates and our members, we’re using it to engage in conversations on social media and we’ve seen it used on news sites.”

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