Therapeutic Dose: Pharma Bloggers: Unite and Write!

You have nothing to lose (but your job, if you’re not careful).

By Paul Thomas, Managing Editor

When it comes to blogging, the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector is sadly underrepresented. Look for a blog on the auto industry — bang, dozens of choices. Even General Motors has one (http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/), authored by vice chairman Bob Lutz. Google for “Desperate Housewives” — beep, blogs galore. But pharma blogs? A precious few, and most of them aren’t worth reading.

Blogs, short for “web logs,” are Internet-based sites that allow an individual, group or business to quickly and easily publish writings, postings and links to other blogs and web sites. Most blogs encourage readers to drop by unannounced and post comments freely, making them good for building community and developing untested or half-baked ideas.

More than 8 million Americans have already created a blog or web-based diary, according to the Pew Internet Project. The “blogosphere” is inhabited by quite a few blowhards and contrarians, but the best blogs aggregate and disseminate, sharing information that might otherwise never see the light of day. Blogging is a maturing art, and is gaining respect.

Pharma blogging is relatively uncharted territory, though there are a few good ones. Try DrugWonks.com, the official web log of former FDA associate commissioner Peter Pitts and friends at the Center for Medicines in the Public Interest. It offers a shrewd, Washington, D.C.-savvy perspective on FDA and the nation’s drug policy.

Another is GoozNews (www.gooznews.com), by Merrill Goozner, author of “The $800 Million Pill: The Truth Behind the Cost of New Drugs.” Goozner, director of the Integrity in Science project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is a journalist and provides well-reasoned insights into some of the big issues of the day on the R&D side — the fuss over Avastin, Korean stem cell research, or the efficacy of statin drugs.

PharmaWatch is worth a visit. It’s written by Dr. Michael Lascelles, a general practitioner from Sydney, Australia whose mission it is to expose the gaps and flaws in clinical trial information and direct-to-consumer advertising. The writing’s good, although it’s a bit pretentious. As with most blogs, you can find out more information than you really need to know. Lascelles’ hobbies: ornithology, Chopin and any movie that doesn’t star Nicole Kidman.

Blogging nation has an axe to grind with Big Pharma. Pharmopoly (www.pharmopoly.org/blog) is the web log of the London-based NGO Global Growth, which campaigns for “safe, free and fair trade in drugs worldwide.” Debunk Big Pharma (http://debunkbigpharma.blognation.us/blog) needs little explanation.

For the science-minded, there’s The Dissolution Solutions Network (www.dissolutionsolutions.net), which bills itself as the resource blog for pharmaceutical scientists and has some good technical discussions. If you’re looking for an earnest manufacturing-centric blog, try the excellent Lean Manufacturing Blog (http://kanban.blogspot.com). You may not find a lot on pharma, but you will find plenty of current thinking in Lean.

Professor Henry Wang at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) has started up a blog (http://pharmaceuticalengineering.blogharbor.com/blog) for pharmaceutical engineers. It could stand to be focused more on engineering and less on general industry news (stock prices, deal-making, etc.), but it’s young and we’ll give it time to find itself.

If you’ve got a good pharma blog, let us know and we’ll link to it from our PharmaManufacturing.com web site. Thinking of starting one? Blog on, and be sure to let us know where we can find you. A word of caution: Never blog from or about work. Many employees have already been let go for disclosing embarrassing or sensitive information about their companies in their postings.

Why aren’t we blogging? We were, and are again. Our PharmaManufacturing team began a blog last year, inviting interested parties to write in, even anonymously. Although we did get some interesting and controversial input, interest flagged and we decided to give it some more thought. We’ve regrouped and now are starting up again, and plan to advance the kind of discussion and dialogue that will advance the industry. Find us at http://pharmamanufacturing.wordpress.com/. Drop by any time, and let your voice be heard.

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