Connecting Patients and Drug Plant Operators: A Public Relations Lesson From Talecris

Remember the proposal (was it Glaxo's?) to help improve the industry's standing by having its drug sales reps go out and talk to patients about all the great work that the industry (and company) are  doing?  No offense to drug reps, but it sounds like a doomed P.R. plan to me. Because drug reps are, after all, selling the final product...they aren't involved in discovering or making it. Just read about a far more useful approach, and an  interesting project that the biotherapeutics manufacturer, Talecris, pulled off last month:  It invited patients taking some of its plasma-based therapies to tour  its manufacturing plant in Clayton, N.C.  The company paid their travel and other expenses. Not only did that give patients some understanding of the drug manufacturing process (something rarely talked about, with all the emphasis on R&D), but the visit  likely reinforced, to those working at the facility, the reasons why they're working in the first place and the fact that their jobs are important. The article notes that some of Talecris' therapies are highly specialized, and the company does not advertise on television, hence it needed more outreach. But, seriously, couldn't this be the way for all drug companies to educate the public about drug manufacturing, while incenting their plant workforce?  Pick a random sampling of patients and invite them to see how it's really done? The costs would be much lower than those for requiring new spin doctors or PR/ad campaigns.  And hearing from the specialists and operators themselves would certainly beat hearing PR speak from a sales rep. The article added to the evidence that Talecris is doing some extremely interesting things, in general, and as far as "manufacturing science" goes:  Its process analytical technology (PAT) program, for example, is outstanding and unusually well thought out. -AMS