5 Major Sources of Market Distrust of the Pharmaceutical Industry

No single event, single offense, issue, or individual company can be identified as the source of or considered responsible for the market distrust of the pharmaceutical industry.  This has been a cumulative affect over the past 30 years or so of modern day Pharma.  It is important to identify, recognize, and acknowledge the sources of distrust before solutions can credibly and effectively be formulated.  Here are the 5 major sources of market distrust of the pharmaceutical industry:

  1. Lack of honesty and full disclosure about product information (Corporate, Marketing, Sales, and Scientific integrity issues)
    1. Not disclosing, not acknowledging or downplaying potential serious adverse reactions and side effects (e.g., many including  Fen-Phen, Vioxx®, OxyContin® , Ketek®)
    2. Exaggerated product claims in marketing or in sales presentations…especially comparative claims
    3. Scientific data manipulation to highlight benefits, exaggerate efficacy while carefully downplaying side effects and adverse reactions
    4. Deception in advertising (paid actors or celebrities to project credibility as they play healthcare providers or miraculously recovered or satisfied patients)
  2. “Off-label” promotion (e.g., many such as Neurontin® and Bextra®)
    1. Companies not willing to spend the money to prove the claims but willing to encourage physicians to subject patients to uncontrolled experimental use
  3. Questionable physician payments, inducements, and “conflicts of interest”
    1. Extraordinary Speaking fees and resort location training programs
    2. Excessive consulting fees, including suspect clinical study payments
    3. Board of Director fees (hundreds of thousands of dollars)
    4. Office practice meals, tchotchkes, and other perks
    5. Expensive meals, cultural or sporting events (e.g., Broadway shows, golf outings) for physicians and other healthcare providers who can influence prescribing
  4. Pervasiveness of industry influence on scientific and medical communications
    1. Promotional programs presented as CME
    2. CME program development and sponsorship
    3. Medical Science Liaisons as safe harbors for scientific exchange of product information
    4. Publications, including sponsoring ghostwritten articles and books
    5. Journal advertising in medical journals
    6. Scientific and medical conference participation and exhibits
    7. Internet medical information sites
  5. Pricing practices
    1. Pricing fraud (especially as it relates to Medicare and Medicaid)
    2. Unsubstantiated high prices (lacking credible rationale or cost benefit data)
    3. High price increases (recent 9.3% increase compared to -0.3% for general inflation (CPI-U)

This is now a complex, multifaceted, and time entrenched distrust. Can the industry afford to ignore it?  If the industry or a company decides to work on this, what should they do?  What can they do?  Stay tuned.


5 thoughts on “5 Major Sources of Market Distrust of the Pharmaceutical Industry”

  1. Very true. Unfortunately many of these practices still go on, however due to recent Govt investigations, they have gone underground. Companies now routinely educate their employees how to craft emails, what to put in and what is better to call the other party live about. Leaving no trail is now a top concern of many big pharma companies.

  2. Hi Mike,

    I just found your blog thanks to a tweet/post on PharmaGossip. You have some very interesting and relevant perspectives. I just subscribed to your RSS feed. I’m looking forward to reading more posts.


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