The lawsuit is still pending; however, a press release issued by the Red Cross in November reported that the Court “with prejudice” had dismissed “a very significant portion” of J&J’s claim.
As criticism ofJ&J began circulating in both blogs and in traditional media, the company quickly discovered that its own newly created blog could be a powerful corporate communications tool, especially in times of trouble. An excerpt from a November post on JNJ BTW suggests how the company might well use its blog to respond to public criticisms (and, for pharma, there will no doubt be many) and to counteract discussions, when necessary, on topics like the Red Cross suit:
I’m all for providing details and information whenever possible, but news organizations should also have a responsibility to get their facts in order—particularly in legal matters where both sides have a story to tell and where there are many facets to consider before drawing a conclusion.
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How much influence corporate blogs by pharmaceutical companies will have on consumers, given the legal and regulatory matters that stand in the way, remains to be seen. Physician blog-gers, for example, have found that trust is an essential ingredient in their relationships with patients and are using their blogs to build on that trust. The health care industry in general is pushing not only for trust but also for transparency—making organizations visible to the public. However, with such tight controls over information and internal limitations on what is said and how it’s said, pharmaceutical corporate blogs might not always be in the position to do that. There is also the charge that corporate blogs are biased—but by their very nature, so are most blogs. And, despite the fact that they are public relations tools, it can be argued that corporate blogs might still be able to offer readers a more open and honest look at a topic than traditional means of communication.
Although pharma blogs are still in their infancy and the true merits of alliConnect, JNJ BTW and future pharma blogs are only a matter of opinion, one thing is certain: as these first pharma bloggers dive in, they are sure to be heavily scrutinized. As Fard Johnmar aptly notes in Healthcare Vox:
“I wish Johnson & Johnson luck as it navigates the stormy waters of the healthcare blogosphere. Everyone will be watching to see if the company sinks or swims.”