Pfizer wins popularity contest in social media survey of patients

U.S. drug giant Pfizer ($PFE) garnered the most mentions in a survey of health advocates on the role of healthcare companies in social media, Medical Marketing & Media reported. But the survey of 356 patients showed that 47% of them had a negative opinion of pharma companies in general compared with 30% of advocates with overall favorable views on drugmakers.

The new survey shows that drugmakers, which want to build positive buzz on social media sites, still have some work to do to improve their image among online patient communities. Conducted by WEGO Health in partnership with the Digital Health Coalition, the survey comes as drugmakers try to make the most of the social web universe with uncertain regulation for much of their activities on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. For now, pharma companies have been treading carefully while trying out a variety of methods to engage consumers online.

The FDA last year issued draft guidance on certain off-label communications in social media, but there are many opinions about whether the industry needs clearer direction from the agency on how to conduct itself on social websites.

"Health Activists do want regulation of companies--but they are increasingly realistic about company responsibility for consumer-generated content," Mark Bard of the Digital Health Coalition said in a statement. "The 2012 survey shows a growing demand from consumers for realistic, useful social media guidance from the FDA."

Here are some of the key findings of the survey:

  • 81% of those surveyed see value in the information from drugmakers on products or services, up 9% from last year's survey.

  • 80% of patients agreed that companies should be held responsible for misinformation they spill on social media sites, yet they shouldn't get in trouble for false statements from consumers.

  • That said, 82% agreed that healthcare companies should bear the burden of correcting erroneous information in social media, and the same percentage of survey takers agreed that false info is a threat to public health.

  • According to the MM&M article, the most mentioned drugmakers included Pfizer (32), Johnson & Johnson (14), Novartis (13) and Sanofi (10).

- here's the release
- check out MM&M's take