I am sick and tired of excuses from pharmaceutical companies who, when caught anonymously altering Wikipedia entries about their products (see, for example, “Simply Irresistible: Abbott Tampering with Wikipedia Entries“), claim that “We’re looking into this but it’s not our policy and not what we do.”

That’s exactly what an Abbott spokeswoman said as reported here.

On another occasion, Wyeth defended itself for kicking plaintiffs lawyers out of a hotel by claiming:

“The hotel booking for these trials is done by a travel logistics firm. Without our knowledge, this firm took it upon themselves to ask the hotel to move the plaintiff’s team when they found out they were staying at the same hotel as our lawyers. Wyeth did NOT know they were doing this, nor did we authorize it. When our lawyers found out, they immediately put a stop to it and apologized to the plaintiff’s lawyers. This was a case of an overzealous vendor – nothing more.” (Read the entire story here.)

That last bit is interesting…

Overzealous Vendors: Web 2.0 Banditos!
I have often seen it… vendors working for a pharmaceutical client and “pushing the envelope” with or without the client’s knowledge. Sometimes, laws are broken as may have happened in Abbott’s case when perhaps an overzealous vendor (or employee) edited out drug safety information in a Wikipedia entry. It may have also happened when my privacy rights were violated during a focus group interview (see “My Sojourn as Market Research Subject for Levitra“).

Overzealous vendors are having a field day pushing the envelope on the Internet and especially in the social networking, Web 2.0 arena — the new WILD, WILD WEST of the Internet.

Marketing Banditos are out there taking advantage of the system editing content, making comments to blogs disguised as common consumers, designing Google Adwords that flaunt FDA regulations (see Enbrel adwords shown below), etc. All done while employed by pharmaceutical companies.

These Adwords (click to enlarge) seem to violate FDA regulations that require presentation of major side effect information whenever a brand name and its approved indication are mentioned in the same ad. In addition, there are also requirements around the description of the indication. For example, “treatment for psoriasis” vs. “approved for the treatment of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis”, the latter being the most severe type of psoriasis for which Enbrel is approved. MORE ON THIS LATER.

Self-regulation does not seem to be working. The FDA has its head buried in the digital sand (see “Where’s DDMAC’s Head At?“). PhRMA is quiet on guidelines for Internet marketing by drug companies (see “PhRMA Finalizes DTC Principles“). Etc., etc.

We need a new sheriff in Web 2.0 town!

Patients not Patents, Inc. founder and Executive Director, Jeffrey Light, may be just what honest folk are looking for (and maybe the last person the banditos want to see in town).

Listen to a LIVE podcast interview of Jeffrey Light next Thursday (September 6, 2007) at 2 PM Eastern. Click here for more information. After the show, you can listen to the audio archive on this Pharma Marketing Talk Channel page.