Big Med-Industry Courts Med-Bloggers

beppe.jpgBeppe in NYC

Now I have seen it all.  Old school med-industy came to NYC a-courtin’ new school med-bloggers last night.  I was invited to a dinner at Beppe a well ranked (not bad in Zagat – menu here) Italian restaurant near Grammercy Park by the Corporate Communication Folks at Johnson & Johnson.

The big pharma folks are exploring the blogosphere and testing the waters before they tread deeply.  Their goal was to explore the medical blogging environment and garner information to help them decide how to get involved. 

In attendance were a cadre of marketing and corporate communication execs from J&J (Heidi Youngkin (executive director/global marketing group), David Swearingen (vp corp comm), Mark Monseau (director of media relations), Jeffrey Leebaw, Ray Jordan (vp public affairs), Rob Halper (director of corporate TV) and others whose cards did not make my pocket.  They brought Adriana Lukas of mediainfluencer and bigblogcompany along with them from across the pond (UK)to try to stir-up the waters.  Nothing like having a new media marketer sitting next to an ex-official FDA marketer for fun dinner talk. 

On the medblogging side was (along with myself) Jim from BrandWeekNRX, Bob and Peter from Drugwonks and CPMI, Fard from Envisioning 2.0 and , Ed Silverman  from Pharmalot , and a highlight for me – a chance to meet my electronic pals from medgadget and blogborygmi Gene Ostrovsky and Nick Genes (of Grand Rounds Fame). 

beppetrio2.jpgL to R Gene Me and Nick!-

guess who works in the ER, who is a computer programmer, and who came from a full day of patient office hours?

The conversations focused on how industry could partner with bloggers, should they give emplyees free-reign to blog about their work (sure the attorney with NDA in hand will love that), and how the public is using inernet and blog med info.  Personally, I spoke about what I see in patient disease chats and discussion forums.  There is so much great information but so much disinformation and inaccuracies.  I volunteer my time to answer medical questions on forums like these such as ATIME.  I believe industry can play a role to foster moderation of information (think Citizendium to Wikipedia).  A bit of industry support could help get a panel of docs pharmacists nurses etc time to respond to the mass of information requests and provide an objective commentary (when requested).  Real partnerships between industry and patient groups could be fostered on education and not just financing. 

I also enjoyed picking Peter Pitts (former FDA’s “chief messaging officer,” serving under Commissioner Mark B. McClellan) brain about 1) why the FDA and legislature is not tackling the herbal and alternative medicine horrors MD’s are seeing (ie who’s getting the payoff) and 2) if FDA does not think herbals are drugs to be regulated why they think sperm, eggs, and embryos are (but that the subject of a whole series of posts to come…)

UPDATE- wow some people are actually blogging about the dinner and who did or did not get invited.  You can see the Post on Rost’s whistleblower site and my comments back here

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