Social media

KV Pharma ignores Facebook

There is no sign of KV Pharmaceutical to take part in the conversation joined by 1277 people already on Facebook about their decision on selling Makena injections for a shocking $1,500 per dose. The progesterone treatment against premature birth given weekly during pregnancy used to be available at pharmacies for a relatively cheap price, with injections costing between $10-$20.

Last month however, FDA approved the drug and gave Makena an orphan drug status, which gave the right to KV to be the only company making and selling the injections. KV used this exclusive position and set its own surprisingly high price for the shots causing a stir between parents and doctors alike.

Patients and professionals quickly let their voices be heard by creating a Facebook page called Shame on you, KV Pharmaceutical and CEO Greg Divis. The page is very much alive. In less than a month 1277 people liked it and joined the conversation posting pictures, sharing hundreds of wall posts and comments. The only missing element was the company itself, who decided not to get involved in the discussion on the page. Instead, they ignored the messages coming directly from patients and responded to letters from officials. The company also published a statement on its own website:

Ther-Rx Corporation has been carefully listening to all stakeholders following the announcement of the list price for Makena™ (hydroxyprogesterone caproate injection). We recognize the concerns that have been raised regarding the list price, patient access, and potential cost to payors of this important orphan drug. (…) We are scheduling meetings with key audiences – including payors and national organizations that are committed to the advancement of obstetric care and infant health.

Guess this means KV has no plans to use social media as a direct and instant channel to communicate with their “key audience”, future parents. They have been “carefully listening”, but they have not been effectively answering. Although payors and organisations are the ones influencing healthcare decisions, ultimately it is the patient who has to pay for the crucial treatment. Ignoring them and their powerful ways of making their opinion public can hurt KV as a brand tremendously.

(Source: FiercePharma, CreationHealthcare)

Facebook comments – not for healthcare blogs?

On March 10th, Kevin Pho, M.D., creator of KevinMD.com tweeted a question to his 31 000+ followers:

kevinmd Kevin Pho, M.D.
I’m considering switching to Facebook comments on KevinMD.com, forcing people to use their real name to leave a comment. Thoughts?

When it comes to commenting on health related blogs, is it too much to ask readers to leave comments with their pictures and Facebook profiles showing? Is it helping to cut useless comments? Definitely. Is it keeping patients from commenting because of its revealing nature? Maybe.

Generally speaking it is a good idea for blogs to switch to Facebook comments. People tend to think twice before posting something when they have their names and pictures to go with the comment. Maybe it stops them from going on a rant about a celebrity, a blogger, a politician or a specific news piece. So moderating becomes easier, the quality of comments become higher. Not to mention the fact that people are already comfortable using Facebook, and this feature lets them comment without going through another registration process.

But should a healthcare blogger continue to provide the option for anonymous comments? Would Facebook comments stop patients to engage in a conversation about their illness and experience with different treatments? As long as the answer is maybe, switching to the new Facebook comment setting is a risk.

On one hand Facebook comments are very user-friendly because of the numerous reasons mentioned above. On the other hand it is hard enough to get patients involved in an online discussion as it is, expecting them to share their pictures when talking about health related issues might be too much to ask. Even on TechCrunch, the highly popular blog about technology startups, as a result of the switch to Facebook comments, the number of responses decreased significantly. Concerns arose that the new commenting system was working too well, preventing people from giving much-needed feedback. And it’s safe to assume, that posting about technology is not as personal as posting about one’s illness or treatment choice.

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