Originally published February 8 2008
Big Pharma Spin Doctors Gather to Plot New Public Relations Strategies for Influencing the FDA, Popular Press
by David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Concerned by the increasingly negative public image of their industry, pharmaceutical companies are meeting with major public relations associations in a conference intended to plan public relations strategies for the coming months.
According to a press release, the First Annual Pharmaceutical Public Relations Symposium is intended to "cover key issues and challenges [that drug] companies face in an industry that is under ongoing political and media scrutiny."
Discussion topics at the one-day conference include "enhancing corporate reputation, social responsibility, issues management, measurement of PR activities and merger of acquisition public relations strategies."
Participants include pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, Serono (owned by Merck) and Wyeth and public relations firms Cision, EXL Pharma, Feinstein Kean Healthcare and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
Some of these, such as EXL Pharma are specifically devoted to public relations for the pharmaceutical industry. The press release describes EXL Pharma as "an emerging leader in developing innovative, educational events that serve the healthcare community and allied professionals." The company also organizes the yearly Public Relations and Communications Summit for Pharmaceutical, Biotech and Medical Technology.
"It is exciting to have partnered with PRSA and Cision to bring pharmaceutical public relations professionals a one-day refresher symposium on top-of-mind issues for the industry as we head into 2008," said EXL Pharma's managing director, Bryon Main. "This industry will be under even higher scrutiny in an election year."
Main promised to help attendees figure out how to "improve the perception" of their companies and products "among key stakeholders."
Critics of the pharmaceutical industry, however, call the conference a "Big Pharma spin camp." Consumer health advocate Mike Adams said, "This conference is an event that, in my opinion, focuses on teaching marketing people how to lie to the public about the dangers of pharmaceuticals. It's all a desperate effort to continue to deceive lawmakers, politicians and consumers about the harmful effects of pharmaceuticals and the complete lack of honest evidence showing their usefulness."
Representatives from the FDA will also participate in the conference, and will give a speech entitled "Communicating More Effectively with the FDA." The FDA employees will tell pharmaceutical companies what to expect as the agency's key priorities in 2008.
"That's not difficult to guess," said Adams. "The FDA's key priorities are to promote drugs and outlaw or censor anything that competes with drugs."
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