Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ePharm eXtra: Blog states "We love Pfizer in our house": Real or fake?

SOURCE: ePharm5 Newsletter: Blog states "We love Pfizer in our house": Real or fake?
(IMPORTANT NOTE: The following article, in its entirety, comes from the ePharm5 newsletter published by HCPPro. In no way do the contents of this article reflect the views or opinions of Ignite Health.)

http://www.hcpro.com/

The ePharm team came across an interesting blog yesterday, one that read: "We love Pfizer in my house because your exotic anti-arrhythmic drug Tikosyn has changed my wife's life. It's genuinely a miracle drug for her." The author, Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, writes the blog called Instapundit and was responding to a Pfizer employee's inquiry about a book Reynolds recently wrote.

The posting goes on to describe the grateful e-mail Reynolds received from the Pfizer employee, who related how he would "pass your thanks along to the guys in the lab. You have no idea how much this kind of message matters to them." Reynolds goes on to say that "while so-called 'Big Pharma' may not be perfect, drug companies have done a lot more to make my life better than their critics have. Maybe someone should point that out more often."

We wonder if this is proof that the industry's reputation is slowly improving. If it is, these kinds of posts are what will make a difference in altering the reputation of the industry. However, ePharm also is aware that the industry hires third parties to monitor blogs in order to gauge consumer attitudes and company reputation (ePharm5, 9/12/06). We have also heard experts caution pharma against hiring bloggers--who are not identified as having connections to the industry--to spread a more positive message throughout the blogosphere and to perform damage control when disparaging remarks are made.

Yesterday's blog, which has several posts from other bloggers, is an example of one or the other or even both. Pfizer is reportedly using software to monitor blogs and user-generated-content (ePharm5, 6/1/05) and is likely aware of this blog interchange. However, we thought the industry would find the posts interesting.

In a responding post, a blogger named Tigerhawk took the blogging ball and ran with it to include a long post about how "pharmaceutical companies deliver extraordinary value to their customers, yet there is apparently great political advantage in bashing them. It is not obvious why this is so." The post elicits several other similar responses, as well as a bit about legalizing marijuana. Tigerhawk also claims that, "In our household, the miracle drug is called Copaxone. Not only do we owe this miracle to a pharmaceutical company, we owe it to an Israeli pharmaceutical company. Apart from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, in some precincts it's tough to get more evil than that." Visit Tigerhawks's blog here.

M. Simon (a 62-year-old Illinois male with an engineering background who is trying to publish a book on drug wars) posted a couple of his anti-pharma articles for review, to which a poster named John replied, "Big Pharma may rent-seek, but that's at least in part because they have godawful expenses. Consider Pfizer, they recently pulled Torcetrapib from trials after 800 million dollars in testing. That's $800,000,000 in expense that they cannot get back. That's a lot of money, even by government standards."

Another post from Howard in Boston also shows an in-depth knowledge of pharma: "And, speaking of Copaxone, I'm not entirely sure of the nature of the deal but it isn't only an Israeli drug. While Teva Neurosciences was involved, there is some sort of licensing with Sanofi-aventis (again, not sure of their role in all of this but they are definitely involved). So, the miracle drug is actually a combined effort between Israeli pharma and French pharma. Wow."

And from a pharma consultant: "Thanks for including the post about helpful drugs. I work with a lot of pharma companies and get pretty tired of all the negative press. I, too, have profoundly benefited from what these companies have produced, as have millions of others (who have little or no voice in our media environment)."

All in all, it was a pretty warm and fuzzy endorsement for pharma!

buzz this

26 comments:

Nedra Weinreich said...

I'm a regular Instapundit reader, and I can vouch for his authenticity. Over the past year or so, he's written about his wife's heart problems and installation of a pacemaker in great detail. He's definitely not a corporate shill, and generally has a libertarian viewpoint towards business and regulation. He also doesn't hesitate to recommend products he likes or criticize those he does not. Pfizer should be thrilled - he's quite influential.

Protagonist said...

You're joking, right? Please tell me you're joking.

If you were trying to make good parody and get links, you've succeeded. In fact, you so popular I have there's some reporter from Kazakhstan who wants to interview you.

If you weren't joking, you might want to check your medicine cabinet for what causing your paranoia and lapses in judgment.

Maggie45 said...

I second what Nedra said. Also, his wife has her own blog at www.drhelen.blogspot.com
You can read her story there. They're quite a team.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

As a regular at both Instapundit and Tigerhawk, including that thread at TH, I'll tell you they are authentic. Are people so caught up in the idea of eeevil Big Pharma that they are not aware that lives are saved by what they do? Give me a flippin' break.

Nobody's paying me for it (though if you've got a lead for me, let me know), but I'll sing their praises frequently. When you see psychotic people making sense when they stay on their meds, and getting paranoid when they don't as often as I have, you won't have any question on that.

miked0268 said...

I'm also a daily Instapundit reader, and I second Nedra's comments above. And, coincidentally, I'm a scientist at a pharma company. People like me react with genuine gratitude to Glenn's comments because its nice to know *someone* out there appreciates what we do. Pharma companies make alot of money because they take alot of risk and provide alot of value, period. I don't understand why they have become everyone's favorite villian but I can tell you it is enraging.

It is outrageous that the media manages to convince people that they are getting ripped off when they are paying $100 a month for drugs that a) keep them alive and b) help them to avoid a $60,000 surgical procedure.

Unfortunately, the way public opinion is going, it seems like it is just a matter of time before the government steps in and destroys the industry, bringing pharma R&D to a halt. The politicians who accomplish this will literally have inflicted misery and death on millions of people, but in their ignorance they'll still consider themselves heroes. Way to go.

DWPittelli said...

Only new drugs are expensive. Only drugs that are new and popular make unusual profits. Perhaps marketing can make a mediocre drug popular for a while, but generally consumers and doctors are rational people, so only drugs that are effective and better than the competition make money.

Once the patent expires, the drug, which is generally as effective as the day it came out, can be produced by essentially anyone, and sold as a generic -- it is a gift to the world from the drug's discoverers. You can badmouth drug companies and steal their intellectual property, and see no problem for a few years, but eventually someone has to come up with the 100s of millions of dollars to get a new drug approved, or there won't be any more new drugs. The state might make this process quicker or cheaper with reduced regulation, but at some risk. The state might also fund and run all the drug research. Perhaps they'd do a better job than "greedy" drug companies, but I wouldn't bet on it.

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their self-love" -- why should pharma be different, and why should we wish it to be so?

BJ said...

Yeah those Eeevil Israelis...making life saving drugs...what are they thinking?

Get a grip, there's plenty of evil in the world to denounce without resorting to knee-jerk bigotry and anti-Semitism.

I think you owe Glenn & Tiger a public apology...next time you might want to actually read a blog before reaching the wrong conclusion about said blogger and/or their motives.

A click-thru to Dr. Helen's blog, prominently displayed on Instapundit, would have given you a valuable clue that you were about to make a fool of yourself.

Bostonian said...

I didn't know there was anyone left who had never heard of Insty. Geez, get a clue.

Bruce said...

Count me as another non-paid shill for the pharm industry, not to mention capitalism and basic voluntary economic activity. I'd be a cripple in terrible constant pain if not for the efforts of greedy capitalists at the pharm companies.

Bruce
also a greedy, hard working capitalist who truly enjoys it when my efforts help other people... sincerely.

tim maguire said...

The ePharm team came across an interesting blog yesterday

That first paragraph is a joke. Right? You've never heard of Instapundit? Sorry, even if you just discovered the internet yesterday, I'd have a hard time believing that.

Under normal circumstances, you could be forgiven for not knowing about his wife's medical problems, but if you're going to blog about it, you should do some rresearch.

Corsair, The Mostly Harmless said...

Count me as another fan of Big Pharma. If anyone out there has ever suffered from REAL migraines, then you probably know what a TRUE miracle drug Imitrex is. Yes, they are expensive (right now). But when you feel like someone is driving nails into your eyeballs, that $70 pill is a god-damned life saver.

Sean Gleeson said...

Glenn has been writing "the blog called Instapundit" since August of 2001. According to Technorati, Instapundit is currently the 27th most popular blog in the world. Truth Laid Bear, using slightly different data, ranks it at number one.

Your insinuation that Reynolds's blog might be a creation of Pfizer only reveals that you have not done even the most cursory research. Other than that, great post!

Anonymous said...

I can truly say that Effexor has changed my life for the better, and am saddened that positive feedback for "Big Pharma" is seen so suspiciously. By the way if you haven't seen or heard of Instapundit,it should set off some kind of internal alarm that you may be cocooning youself and only looking at view points that reinforce your belief system.

Steve White said...

I'm an academic physician who engages in research (not Pharma funded). I'm a regular Instapundit reader, and it's clear from the last couple years that Prof. Reynolds' opinions are indeed his.

I would greatly appreciate it you would explain, in your own blog, the evils of Big Pharma that you think outweight the good of the industry.

I take care of patients with lung disease. I have a dozen drugs in my kit that I didn't have twenty years ago, and each makes a difference. All were developed by Big Pharma. I'm grateful.

I'm also a patient, and I take, daily, three different medicines. All were developed by Big Pharma. I'm grateful.

If there's an alternate model by which the "progressive community" has and would develop life-saving drugs, I'd like to hear about it.

ed said...

Hmmmm.

1. Instapundit.com is one of the leading blogs on the web with hundreds of thousands of hits per month. In addition people who regularly read Instapundit.com often create their own blogs from the examples Glenn Reynolds sets forth.

So his nickname for many is "blogfather".

2. I have ESRD and I am alive at this precise moment entirely because of big pharma.

3. I view people who complain about profits by energy companies and pharma companies to be intellectually lazy and quite frankly borderline stupid.

It can cost upwards of $2 billion to put a brand new class of drugs into commerical production with no limit to the potential legal liability if it doesn't work perfectly. The costs incurred aren't just to recoup development costs and the cost of delivering the product to the store shelves. It's also to cover the costs of any potential future litigation.

IMHO the whole idea of an evil genius pharma company seeking to destroy entire nations for profits, a la "The Constant Gardener", is idiotic.

It amazes me that people have no issue with a $50 million movie making $2 billion in profits but blanch when a $2 billion dollar drug makes a profit at all.

Sluggo said...

I've met TigerHawk. He lacks the 1000 meter stare and lurching hands-forward gait of the true Big Pharm booster. Nice guy. Very smart.

The real question is what drugs are you on and what were your development costs?

Mr. Snitch said...

If drugs didn't do more good than harm on the balance, Big Pahrma wouldn't BE Big Pharma.

Kazinski said...

I've inherited the same condition that killed my Grandfather at 43, after a long illness, I'm 51 and in great health, thanks to big Pharma. I guess I should complain about all the money they've taken off of me over the 25 years I've been taking their pills daily. Thats a lot of money regardless of the fact that their medicine has been not only keeping me alive, but in great health.

Bongo Journalist said...

Reynolds appears to be a shill for many things (see all his "recommendations," which usually go to some Amazon link from which he probably receives a commission for purchases), so don't be so indignant. Nothing wrong with being a shill and Godfather of Bloggers all at once. And with a babe of a wife like he has, no doubt he wants to keep her properly ticking away, drug companies be damned.

If you're west of Knoxville, bow east and bat that forehead against the floor. Other compass points, take a cue.

Kirk Hays said...

Now that you've had your head handed to you, largely due to your own ignorance, the adult thing to do would be to apologize to Instapundit, and stop the bleeding.

Oh, and I take pills that help me with my health - all made by the Evil Big Pharma! So I, too, must be a shill!

Tell me, is Small Pharma less Evil? Or even possible, in this day and age of excessive regulation?

Kirk

cardeblu said...

"The ePharm team came across an interesting blog yesterday,...."

Came across? Yesterday?

Obviously this will be your first (and possibly last) "Instalanche." You might want to check your site meter later today.

...unless that was your intention...

IgniteBlogger said...

One very important clarification, ePharm is an organization that publishes a daily newsletter called "ePharm5". The original post, in its entirety, came from that newsletter. I should have been more clear about the source, especially since probably no outside of its subscribers know what the heck ePharm5 is. I couldn't agree more with people's comments. As someone who is deeply involved with communicating to people living with chronic diseases about the benefits of certain products, I know how they can help, change and save lives (http://www.ignitehealth.com is my company). Also, I have forwarded all your comments to the editors of the newsletter and encouraged them to explore this issue further -- as it's clear that it has struck a nerve. As for myself, I can honestly state that if it wasn't for a few of big pharma's products, my life would probably be in shambles. So I join the collective voices here to say, for once, can we give big pharma a friggin' break?!

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of physical problems, one is a disorder much like Parkinsons. I take pills, developed by "Big Pharma" to control the tremors. Without those pills I am unable to eat with a fork or spoon, I can't keep food on them long enough to hit my mouth.
I will be sixty my next birthday, without those pills I would already be in the nursing home. Or looking up at the wrong side of the grass.
I owe more to my pharmacuetical comp[anies and doctors than I do to the idiot politicos and journos who attack them.
By the way, anyone who acts as if he doesn't know who Instapundit is should shut off the computer and communicate by writing on clay tablets.

Strabo the Lesser said...

As a Crohns sufferer, Johnson's and Johnson's Remicade saved my life. In 2001 I was too sick to get out of bed. I lost my job; I was in constant agony; I couldn't function in society. After going on Remicade, I started bodybuilding, completed a graduate degree, started a business, and got engaged.

If it's your rear on the line, it's cheap at any price. How much is your own life worth? God bless big pharma.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there are many hooray stories and horror stories about "Big Pharma", but they all presume there is no other way. Take a global view: Big Pharma has the wrong business model.

Three scenarios:
1. I'm healthy, I need a pill to make me feel better.
2. I'm ill, I need a pill to cure me.
3. I have a chronic condition, I need a pill to keep me alive.

All 3 pills come to market from a business model where only 8 or 10 companies can afford to make that happen. It takes around a Billion cash to get a drug approved, and the only way to recoup that investment is to sell the pills at a commensurate price while patent protection exists. Once generic comes in, the pill cost falls into the competitive commodity market levels, much more affordable to the guy who needs it.

If you're in situation 1, and can't afford the pill, you pass. Situation 2, you give up food for a while (you can't afford insurance, or insurance can't afford to pay for the pill), Situation 3, government (read taxpayer) steps in or you die.

New business model: Have Pharma submit R&D proposals for development (to the FDA?). Fund the good ideas, give a "home run" bonus to pills that make the market. Government (read taxpayer) owns the patent, and pill production is generic from the get-go. Risk/reward incentive for Big Pharma is there, pill production is always commodity level pricing, and the sick guy can pay for the pill in all three scenarios. Schedule D Medicare is not needed, everybody is happy, even Big Pharma?

John Mack said...

Hey you friggin' critics of the pharmaceutical industry! Shut your pie hole! "... drug companies have done a lot more to make my life better than [you] critics have. Maybe someone should point that out more often."

That's what Instapundit writer Glenn Reynolds says in a post cited yesterday by Fard Johnmar over at HealthVox.

Aside from the anecdotal nature of this defense, here are five reasons why I hate this "better than the critics" argument made by Instapundit and other "defenders" of the pharmaceutical industry.

Read my reasons at Pharma Marketing Blog.