12.06.2023 | Tracker
Top 50 Pharma tracker review: The importance of knowing what HCPs think.
CREATION.co has been tracking the monthly trends in online HCP (eHCP) conversation about the top 50 pharmaceutical companies for several years, spanning pre, during and post COVID-19 pandemic. With the advent of a new post-pandemic era, highlighted by the recent declaration by the WHO Director-General that ‘COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue which no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)’, CREATION.co has looked back over 12 months of eHCP conversation to evaluate how this conversation has changed since the peak of the pandemic, analysing over 150,000 posts by nearly 30,000 unique authors on Twitter, between May 2022 and April 2023.
|Company||All mentions||Account mentions||Account retweets|
|Johnson & Johnson||10,039||4,599||468|
|Merck & Co||2,294||1,377||134|
Between May 2022 and April 2023, the 5 most mentioned pharmaceutical companies online were Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and GSK.
Pfizer and Moderna had significantly higher numbers of mentions by HCPs online compared to the other top 5 companies. This was predominantly due to eHCP discussions about the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
What drives eHCP conversation in relation to top 50 pharma?
In order for pharmaceutical companies to understand their HCP customers and how to engage with them, it is important to understand what drives their online conversation. Over the 12 months that was analysed, CREATION.co picked up several key drivers of eHCP conversation . Notably, conversations peaked around the dissemination of misinformation online, with HCPs both amplifying and correcting misinformation stories about, among other things, the COVID-19 vaccines.
Key learnings for pharma:
1. Pharmaceutical companies need to stay on top of misinformation circling about their products
A notable trend in the eHCP conversation about top 50 pharmaceutical companies was the rise in the sharing of misinformation. In particular, from 2023 onwards, the proportion of online conversation belonging to posts that disseminate misinformation about vaccines and other treatments increased significantly. Of particular concern is the fact that these posts are amongst the most re-shared and engaged posts online among HCPs in the top 50 pharma conversation.
Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a British cardiologist who has been key in spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, published five of the 10 most shared posts within the analysed conversation. Amongst other things, HCPs were keen to share his allegations about vaccines causing cardiovascular related deaths, with 141 HCP shares of this post, which has been fact checked and shown to be an unsubstantiated claim.
Lead author of peer reviewed research re-analysing Pfizer & Moderna trials on mRNA vaccine @JosephFraiman calls for immediate suspension of jab due to serious harms.
‘We have conclusive evidence that the vaccines are inducing sudden cardiac death’
This is huge 🔥 pic.twitter.com/bS3A1ui561
— Dr Aseem Malhotra (@DrAseemMalhotra) January 9, 2023
Pharmaceutical companies need to be up to date and stay on top of these misinformation stories. It is clear that HCPs are willing to amplify these false claims, and these posts have the potential to cause a lot of noise within the online HCP conversation to the detriment of important truth as well as the reputation of pharma and its products. Staying up to date with these misinformation stories would allow pharmaceutical companies to create and release the appropriate educational content to combat misinformation and to engage with their digital opinion leaders (DOLs) to get this content to the HCPs online.
2. Trial data and research is consistently important to HCPs online
As seen in the chart breaking down the topics within the eHCP conversation, HCPs are keen to share and discuss trial data online throughout the year. This can be either in simply sharing updates from trials or expressing their opinion and engaging other HCPs alongside it. Often, HCP peer-to-peer conversation online around trial data and research is a key way pharmaceutical companies can understand HCP sentiments around products and insights into their (potential) prescribing behaviour.
For example, engagement with a post by Dr. Toni Choueiri about the Phase 3 Keynote-921 trial revealed insights on what the GU oncology community felt about pembrolizumab and other treatments.
JUST IN: Phase 3 KEYNOTE-921 Trial Evaluating pembrolizumab+docetaxel vs docetaxel alone in Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer (CRPC) did not meet primary endpoints of OS and rPFS@DanaFarber_GU @OncoAlert @Merck @PCFnews https://t.co/XCz3XmbNut
— Toni Choueiri, MD (@DrChoueiri) August 3, 2022
Urologist and researcher Morgan Roupret responded, “The strategy to use pembrolizumab in all GU #cancer and in all #stages is obviously a failure. Waste of time, waste of hope and waste of money should be replaced by strong rationale and solid basic research data #urology” while oncologist Viktor Grünwald added, “Thanks for sharing. Difficult to treat with PD-1i. Need to find the sensitive population or other drugs.”
The strategy to use pembrolizumab in all GU #cancer and in all #stages is obviously a failure. Waste of time, waste of hope and waste of money should be replaced by strong rationale and solid basic research data #urology
— Morgan Roupret (@MRoupret) August 4, 2022
3. Cost and patient access to products is a key topic for HCPs online
Cost of treatment and patient access was an important topic for HCPs online, and they were keen to share news about pharmaceutical companies where this topic was involved. Of note within the 12 month period was the rise in mentions of Eli Lilly in relation to the cost of insulin. The rise in proportion of conversation dedicated to cost and patient access to products in the months when this was an issue was due to the creation of a fake Eli Lilly Twitter account in November 2022 and the lowering of insulin price in March 2023. This shows that topics of passion to HCPs, particularly with the needs of their patients, shapes how they discuss and engage with pharmaceutical companies online.
The fake Eli Lilly Tweet on insulin has brought this thread on insulin prices back to the forefront.
— Vincent Rajkumar (@VincentRK) November 12, 2022
Wow. This is huge. This is the real @LillyPad
— Vincent Rajkumar (@VincentRK) March 1, 2023
4. DOLs are key to disseminating the right information
With all the noise in the online conversation and the rise in the dissemination of misinformation, it is important that pharmaceutical companies get the right information to the right audience. In the same way that loud voices sharing misinformation lead the online conversation to the jeopardy of pharmaceutical companies, the right voices can influence conversation in the right way. These are Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs), and partnering with the right DOLs in the right way has the potential to engage HCP customers and accelerate truthful messaging. Some key voices lending to the online conversation about the top 50 pharmaceutical companies, such as physician-scientist Eric Topol and epidemiologist Eric Ding, are shaping HCP opinion through their posts about trial data and important treatment updates. These posts tend to garner a large amount of engagement.
Important to note that both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech Omicron (BA-1) booster shots had 3-fold lower neutralizing antibody response to BA.4/5 than to BA.1
[Pfizer data just put out this morning) pic.twitter.com/KDKlf0ULtj
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) June 25, 2022
💡Cancer breakthrough—patients with stage 3 or stage 4 melanoma received a experimental cancer vaccine made by Moderna and the immunotherapy made by Merck for about a year **reduced the risk of cancer recurrence or death by 44%** versus immunotherapy alonehttps://t.co/fiENX4bCdb
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) December 13, 2022
Whilst these DOLs influence on a large scale, pharmaceutical companies can support DOLs to influence the conversation in a range of ways within specific therapy areas and aligned to their business goals. A good relationship, based on the passions and desires of a DOL could be the key to getting the right information to the right people and may influence not just online conversation but also offline behaviours.
The importance of knowing what HCPs think
With the rise in the online influence of HCPs in good ways and bad, it is more important than ever for pharmaceutical companies to keep their finger on the pulse of online HCP conversation. Misinformation threatens to unravel years of research and development for pharmaceutical companies, and could be detrimental if left unaddressed. On the flip side, HCPs continue to share vital information around the needs and desires of their community and their patients. his untapped information is a valuable asset and source of insight to how pharmaceutical companies could reach their HCP customers.
CREATION.co continues to monitor the online conversation, not just around the top 50 pharmaceutical companies but across the healthcare industry, ensuring you can always be at the forefront of knowing what HCPs are saying and who is influencing the conversation. Keep up to date with the views of HCPs mentioning Top 50 Pharma online, as well as other health related topics, by signing up to our monthly eJournal or get in touch.