Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools
by Dominic Tyer
Joint ABPI-PMCPA Digital Communications Working Group includes pharma and agency members
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has moved to tackle UK pharma's trepidation about digital communications channels.
Partnering with Code of Practice regulator the PMCPA, the industry body has set up a new Digital Communication Working Group to shine a light on current best practice in the industry.
The new Group is made up of representatives from the ABPI, PMCPA, ABPI member companies and healthcare communications agencies.
They had their second meeting in March and, while the process is still in the very early stages of development, the Group is expected to produce a list of core principles and case studies, possibly by the autumn.
The PMCPA itself produced 'informal guidance' on digital communications in April 2011, but it seems pharma companies want more information and advice before they feel fully comfortable using digital channels.
The ABPI's director of corporate affairs Amanda Callaghan told PMLiVE: “Member companies have indicated to us that they would like to build on their existing knowledge of digital communications and have a resource that accentuates the positives of this medium.
“At the last Corporate Affairs Network meeting member companies said that providing a range of key dos and don'ts would be helpful, and that it would be useful to see any case studies of good practice examples.”
The group was set up in October 2011 as a joint effort between the ABPI and PMCPA to determine what support, if any, member companies need to help them include digital media as part of the communications mix.
The group has consulted with the ABPI Corporate Affairs Network to determine:
• What things member companies are still unclear about?
• Whether member companies would find case studies useful and on what activities?
• Beyond the case studies and guidance, what else would member companies find useful?
Callaghan also reiterated the ABPI's support for UK pharmaceutical companies to use digital communications channels, if done in the right way.
“Communicating and interacting with stakeholders via digital channels presents significant, often mutually beneficial opportunities. However, it does present its challenges as we work within a highly regulated industry,” she said.
“Our position on digital communications as an organisation is quite straightforward: We support the appropriate and strategic use of digital communications.”
Social media, the use of which has so far led to two breaches of the ABPI's Code of Practice, is sure to form a major part of the new Group's discussions.
The ABPI has already given its full support to UK pharma's use of social media – as long as companies stick to industry rules and regulations.
The ABPI's web editor Melanie Quashie told a conference earlier this year: “If your objective is to benefit the patient, and you're working within the boundaries of the Code of Practice, then there is nothing stopping companies embracing social media and taking the opportunity that it presents.”