Drugmakers are pouring more money into online outreach and marketing, and several of the largest pharma companies have been rewarded for good stewardship of their web presences. A multi-industry study of web effectiveness shows that pharma companies in general are among the best in the web game--even better than Apple ($APPL) and Google ($GOOG).
Of its top 25 companies, the 6th annual Financial Times Bowen Craggs Index of web prowess included 5 pharma groups--Roche ($RHHBY), Novartis ($NVS), AstraZeneca ($AZN), Sanofi ($SNY) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK). Roche came out on top among its pharma peers with a No. 5 rank. All other drugmakers in the top 25 raised their standings--except for GSK, which dropped 5 places from last year's index to No. 25.
The index measures use of corporate websites, mobile apps, social media channels and all other online communications.
While not in the top 25, Pfizer ($PFE) made the most headway among drugmakers since last year, climbing 11 spots to the No. 38 slot, according to the report led by London-based web effectiveness firm Bowen Craggs. Yet the world's largest drugmaker was dinged for presenting 2005 info on its website as thought the material was up to date.
Pharma outfits appear to be taking online communication seriously. Health topics are among the most commonly searched online, and social media has opened up a whole new forum for patients to complain about side effects of treatments or share information about their conditions. Understanding the importance of the web in their industry, drugmakers have dedicated more resources to improve their corporate websites, create mobile apps, and establish themselves on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.