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Marketing & Strategy

Why pharma content faces scrutiny: Challenges in earning HCP trust

Health Industry Hub | October 3, 2023 |

Marketing & Strategy: In an era of rapid digital advancements, the pharmaceutical industry finds itself navigating a formidable challenge – establishing trust in the eyes of healthcare professionals. Healthcare professionals have expressed scepticism toward digital content provided by pharmaceutical companies.

Encompassing oncologists and urologists across the UK, US, and France, the survey* revealed that a staggering 80% of clinicians harbour scepticism towards pharma content, primarily due to doubts regarding data cherry-picking and potential biases. These are key takeaways that also apply to teams locally as often content for commercial and medical field teams are localised from global materials.

One clinician expressed, “They will often provide clinical trial information, and although I think the data’s correct, it’s presented in a way that is maybe skewed. If there were endpoints that weren’t favourable to the drug, they may not be there.”

A significant challenge highlighted by clinicians is the lack of a centralised information hub containing all the necessary data. Pharma websites were criticised for presenting only a partial view of products, making it difficult for healthcare professionals to access comprehensive assessments of results from scattered journal papers.

The survey also indicated geographic variations in the importance of digital content. In the US, healthcare professionals noted a resurgence in visits by pharma representatives after a pandemic-induced drop in in-person interactions. However, the UK portrayed the least favourable views of pharma, with significantly fewer face-to-face interactions between healthcare professionals and industry representatives.

In addressing the preferences of healthcare professionals, it was noted that pharma reps who came across as patronising or outdated during face to face visits – “turning up with an iPad and running through a rehearsed script with basic medical information” – were met with negative reactions. A more effective approach was suggested, wherein clinicians have the opportunity to view information online at their convenience.

Leading voices in the pharmaceutical industry emphasised the vital role of trust in their interactions with healthcare professionals.

Jasper van de Sompel, Director Global Digital Strategy Lead at Pfizer, highlighted the significance of transparent communication concerning efficacy and safety data to improve trust and accelerate the delivery of essential medicines to patients.

“Fostering relationships on factual information is key to bringing the right medicines to patients faster,” he commented.

Daniel Johnson, Business Unit Head Switzerland at Takeda, stressed the need for long-term commitment and patient-centric approaches from pharma companies.

“The key for me is trust — something difficult to create and easy to break. HCPs need to trust that pharma is in it for the long term, putting patients first and enabling access to medicines. This starts with making sure teams’ incentives, actions and investments are aligned to solving the biggest problems that HCPs and the health ecosystem are facing,” he said.

This survey unveils critical learnings for teams locally, underscoring the imperative of building trust, fostering transparent communication, and ensuring accessibility to unbiased information. Trust, as observed, is the linchpin that can either forge stronger bonds or unravel the delicate fabric of credibility.

*by Graphite

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