Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Gilead-sponsored journey to patient advocacy: ‘[The drug] I would like to promote now is Harvoni’

Another ‘breach of trust’ at STAT: patient who praised TV drug ads says pharma PR company asked her to write op-ed

Interesting story here folks:

Background is a web-based project that evaluates health news for accurate reporting published by US news organizations, here is their criteria. Kevin Lomangino, the managing editor recently wrote two articles about the news site STAT, a site that reports on health and medicine. The first article; ‘A blow to [STAT’s] credibility’: MD listed as author of op-ed praising drug reps didn’t write it, the second ‘breach of trust’ at STAT: patient who praised TV drug ads says pharma PR company asked her to write op-ed

The latter might be of some interest to HCV patients. Although raising HCV awareness both in the public and the health care system is critical to establish risk factors associated with the virus, long-term benefits of early detection, and life saving treatment.

However, one may ask should a patient cured by Gilead's drug Harvoni, take part in training sessions, given by Gilead-affiliated PR experts, to help communicate a clear public message, or Gilead's message about Harvoni?  Kevin Lomangino writes about one of the TV appearances made by the patient turn advocate:
On one of her appearances on NBC 24 in Toledo (click here for video) Dushane kicked off the interview by declaring in no uncertain terms what the take-home message was: “There are a number of drugs you can take in regards to hepatitis C, but the one I would like to promote now is Harvoni because it’s a 12-week treatment, very few side-effects and miraculously I’ve been cured after having the disease for 30-plus years.” [emphasis added]
About the STAT op-ed piece written by the patient:
The author of a STAT op-ed headlined “You can complain about TV drug ads. They may have saved my life” says a PR company with ties to the pharmaceutical industry asked her to write the piece and edited it. 
Although the idea for her STAT piece clearly originated with a PR company, according to Dushane, she says that she wrote the piece herself, wasn’t paid for it, and that her draft received only minor editing from the PR company. However, she said she also had received extensive coaching from Gilead-affiliated PR experts about how to communicate her message.
What do you think about the coaching? I wonder, was this well meaning advocate taken advantage of?
Dushane’s says her journey from retired educator to advocate started with an email from Gilead inviting her to fly out to the company’s headquarters in California. At the company’s expense, she says she joined about 40 other people who’d been treated with Harvoni for a series of presentations on Gilead’s work over the course of two days.

Read the article here.....

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