As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruption around the world, pharma is one industry where healthcare and business interests intersect. As anxiety increases over the supply of medicines and people wait for a vaccine, all ears are attuned to the pharma sector. The response shows a sector rising to the challenge of COVID-19.
Clinical Trials and Vaccine Development
Many of the big pharma companies out there are highlighting the work they are doing to fight the pandemic in a targeted way. Regeneron and Gilead are both in the process of completing clinical trials using their existing drugs to see whether they effectively treat COVID-19, while Sanofi is leveraging its previous work on SARS to develop a vaccine. Johnson & Johnson have also begun work on a vaccine. Meanwhile, Novartis have entered a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the aim of developing solutions to the pandemic (although they have offered less clarity on what this work will entail) and AbbVie has also pledged its support to the WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health.
These companies have made it clear that they see themselves as having an integral role in finding a solution to COVID-19. These organisations are taking real, measurable actions in fighting the pandemic. Who will find a treatment or vaccine first, however, remains to be seen.
Putting People at the Heart of Communications
Within their own companies, pharma brands are showing recognition for the hard work of their own staff. Novartis has made a number of appreciation posts for its team, emphasising how the production of medicines for existing illnesses, not just COVID-19, is a truly crucial service. This is particularly relevant to pharma workers who must maintain a presence at laboratories or manufacturing plants, putting themselves at risk in order to keep producing vital medicines. Using the hashtag #SanofiActs Sanofi has developed a stream of content which showcases the specific ways in which its workers are providing service at their various locations around the world. This emphasises the work that Sanofi is doing, while also showing staff they are recognised and valued in a more personalised way.
Other companies are engaging more with the more universal themes of working from home and keeping employees’ spirits up. Amgen in particular has asked its staff to share their insights and tips on how to work better remotely while also sharing emotive content from its staff in Italy as they try to find some joy in the midst of the crisis there. Similarly, as with all companies across a range of industries, pharma companies are emphasising that the safety of their people is their highest priority.
In summary, pharma companies are building their employer brand by showing how they take care of and value their existing employees during this time – not to mention the importance of their work in tackling the crisis.
The supply of medicines has also been a key concern for pharma companies. Understandably, heightened anxiety around healthcare as well as economic disruption has left many people concerned that they may not be able to access much needed drugs. As a result, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, Regeneron and Gilead (as well as many others) have all released messages regarding their supply chains. Essentially, they are reassuring customers that there will not be a shortage of vital medicines, but that they are monitoring the situation closely.
On a smaller level, manufacturers, pharmacy chains and local pharmacies are also releasing messages to customers regarding access to medicine. Perrigo has stated that it will be able to keep its production lines running to meet demand, while Boots has kept up a steady flow of information for customers, assuaging their fears that they won’t be able to collect their prescriptions, as well as utilising its leadership staff to educate the public on how pharmacy services are operating at this time.
Sharing Factual Information
As part of the healthcare industry more broadly, the pharma sector has also taken on the role of providing factual knowledge on the Coronavirus. Pfizer has taken a strong role in this with a series of talks by its Chief Medical Officer on what we need to know about the virus, accompanied by the hashtag #KnowtheFacts. Pfizer is also sharing more holistic content such as tips on managing mental health and communicating with children about the pandemic in an age appropriate way. Smaller companies such as United Drug are also sharing advice on symptoms and how to prevent the spread of the virus.
Solidarity with Healthcare Workers
This is a gruelling time for medical staff. While they may not be classed as healthcare workers themselves, pharma companies are displaying solidarity with those on the frontlines of the pandemic. Amgen has noted the many sacrifices doctors have had to make to treat those in need during this difficult time, while Pfizer also expressed gratitude to doctors as part of National Doctors Day. At a moment like this, where initiatives such as “Feed the Frontline” have garnered a huge response, people across the board are showing a heightened appreciation for medical staff. On social media trending hashtags such as #NotAllHeroesWearCapes are a testament to this, and pharma companies are engaging across the board.
Other companies are taking even stronger action. Johnson & Johnson has earmarked a 50 million fund specifically to support healthcare workers, while Allergan has dedicated $2 million to its COVID-19 response.
In conclusion, pharmaceutical brands are at the forefront of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their messaging makes clear the vital role they play in not just developing treatments for the virus, but providing the everyday medicines we rely on. Whether you are reaching out to customers to reassure them that you are still supplying medication, or building your employer brand by recognising the work of your people, now is the time to appropriately highlight the work you do. Unsure how your organisation might best communicate over the coming months? We’d love to chat at 01 539 7939.