By now everyone should know that AstrazenecaUS is hosting the first-ever one hour pharma-sponsored Twitter chat tonight starting at 8 PM Eastern Time (for details, see here). Many of my Twitter colleagues — not all of them friendly to me or to AZ — are already engaging in the chat using the #rxsave hashtag (follow the Twitter #Rxsave tweet stream here).

I raised a few hackles when I suggested that the chat may be “hijacked” by “anti-Seroquel folks & pharma critics”. Pharma has some experience with “disgruntled” patients who have “hijacked” their social media efforts (see, for example, “Disgruntled Patient Shuts Down sanofi-aventis Facebook Page“).

As with any social media conversation, this one will be controlled by the vocal minority — those people who actually post something. We know that about 98% of participants will be listening only; ie, “lurkers.” I hope that the conversation stays somewhat “on topic.” AZ probably hopes they can keep the discussion laser-focused on their prescriptions savings programs such as AZ&Me™ Prescription Savings Program.

I hope to broaden the discussion to prescription drug prices in general. To ensure that, I plan to do a bit of “hijacking” myself. But I plan to be open and transparent about it; ie, not lie in wait and spring a trap.

My plan is to use SocialOomph to schedule automated posts at specific times during the chat. Here are the posts I have scheduled so far:

Can u tell us which drug Rx’s received most support frm AZ’s Rx savings prg? If u cant mention drug names, then disease category? #rxsave

What percent of AZ’s 2010 US sales does AZ’s Rx savings plan represent? #rxsave

With so many ppl unemployed should drug industry freeze or lower Rx drug prices for everyone? See survey: #rxsave

I will also participate in the live discussion and may modify my automated postings if necessary. Meanwhile, I will send my questions to AZ so they have an opportunity to prepare answers that will pass their internal legal/regulatory review.

This is a bit of an experiment to demonstrate how an organized person or special interest group can use social media technology to get their voices heard. If many people do this, real conversation will be impossible. It will just be a social media clash of the cyborgs!

If you have any questions you’d like me to ask — either via SocialOomph or in real time — post them as comments to this blog. Of course, you would do that ONLY if you wish to remain anonymous and not use SocialOomph or post anything live yourself.