Big Pharma pays influencers to promote drugs on social media
A new study from the University of Colorado at Boulder shows pharmaceutical companies have partnered with so-called “patient influencers” to promote prescription drugs on social media.
In the learn Lead author Erin Willis, published this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, interviewed 26 such patient influencers. All participants struggled with chronic medicine Condition — including lupus, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, asthma, HIV, celiac disease, chronic migraines and perimenopause — and all have “regularly used social media platforms to discuss health and collaborate with brands.”
According to the study, although it’s unclear how many, some of the influencers were also paid to promote various drugs. And although influencers sponsored by drug companies are required to label their promotional posts as ads, most influencers have a relatively limited following, typically between 1,000 and 40,000 followers, which can make tracking compliance difficult.
Willis also noted that consumers sometimes don’t differentiate between shared personal experiences and paid sponsorships. “Health literacy and digital literacy are both worryingly low in this country,” Willis said in the study. “The fact that patients without medical training are widely sharing information about medications should concern us.”
Although some influencers received money for their social media advertising, Willis and the other authors of the study appeared encouraged by the righteous motives expressed by most of the study participants. Some became involved in medical advocacy because they felt lost after the initial diagnosis and wanted to spare others a similar experience.
“I’ve spent a lot of time searching for information about diabetes that relates to me, a Southern African-American woman … and I haven’t found much,” said one participant. “So in 2012 I created the website blackdiabeticinfo.com because I wanted to see a smiling African American man with diabetes. …I didn’t see what I needed, so I created it.”
The study also suggested that paying patient influencers could be an inevitable consequence of direct mail costing drug companies $6.58 billion in 2020, even though DTC advertising is only legal in the US and New Zealand. About half of all consumers who request a drug after seeing an advertisement for it end up receiving a prescription from their doctor.
As with other DTC advertisements that became popular in the early 1980s, “the phenomenon of patient influencers raises ethical issues that need further investigation,” the study states.
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https://www.theblaze.com/news/big-pharma-paying-influencers-to-promote-drugs-on-social-media Big Pharma pays influencers to promote drugs on social media