Blogs are reaching closer to home for the Pharmaceutical Industry.  Yahoo is driving a strong message about health education with two of its blogs.

Yahoo’s Health Expert Blogs is a consortium of health expert’s blogging on specific topics ranging from yoga to cancer.  The latest diabetes entry as of 3:07 PM mountain time, August 16, 2005 is a hot topic in the drug delivery arena - Inhaled Insulin.  Inhaled Insulin was posted by Simeon Margolis M.D., PhD.  He is a professor of medicine and biological chemistry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  This article blog was written an hour and 2 minutes ago and already has two responses.  One which is a suggestion for developing a cure. 

If you are AstraZeneca, you will want to watch the Cholesterol & Heart Disease blog.  On Fri, Aug 12, 2005, 12:42 pm PDT a blog article was posted Crestor: Should You Be Taking It?  The first line reads ‘Physicians have reported more serious adverse events to the FDA with the use of Crestor than with three other cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. This finding obviously raises the question of whether you should be taking Crestor.’ This particular post doesn’t have any comments attached to it.  Is no comment good or a bad? 

Take the patient perspective for a moment and imagine the thoughts going through the Crestor® patient’s mind while reading this article. Then imagine this patient going back to read the other side of the story day after day. Three days go by and still no rebuttal, no answer from the pharma company, not even from another doctor.  Would it make the patient call his/her physician and change medications?  This is a definite possibility.  Can AstraZeneca win in this situation?    

Take these examples 10 fold or 1000 fold and imagine the power and potential a blog can have for your therapeutic area, drug, patient or physician base.  The possibilities are infinite. Blogs do not stand alone they solicit comments, RSS Feeds, Tags, Permalinks and Trackbacks.  Not to mention this is a global medium! 

A pharmaceutical company with a drug in one of Yahoo’s Health Expert categories should ask itself several questions.  The first question should be, do we know the ‘expert blogger’?  If so what is our relationship with this professional?  If the expert blogger is one of your thought leaders is this a good or bad situation to be in?  Are there legal ramifications?

The marketing department may ask questions such as ‘do we know the ‘expert blogger’  should we get him/her a sample?  Should we advertise on this page?

The other notable Yahoo blog is Blog for Hope.  This blog is a temporary blog effort  between Yahoo and the American Cancer Society.  The objective of this blog…promotion… is to ‘connect individuals in the fight against cancer.’  An ingenious idea, the blog has celebrities such as Deepak Chopra, Hillary Clinton, Sam Donaldson, Peggy Flemming and others share their personal stories via the blog.  Fran Drescher writes ‘I got famous, I got cancer, and I LIVED to talk about it. Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it’s hard to go back to sleep.

So let me sound the alarm! We must become better medical consumers. We must challenge our physicians…
  She has 397 comments as of this writing.

This is a great example of using blogs to reach the masses for health education.  

With blogs on the up rise Pharma should expect its patient and physician base to read a posting about the company, a therapeutic area, drug or drug class they manufacture a product for at least once a week if not more often. 

Pharma should ask itself four more very important questions in relation to blog media. 

  1. Do we know enough about blogs? 
  2. Are we prepared for this new revolution?
  3. How do we keep track of this medium?
  4. How do we respond?