Pharmaceutical Company’s ‘Futures Market’ for Reputation Risk

Michael D. Moberly    February 6, 2014   ‘A blog where attention span really matters’.

Pharmaceutical company’s ‘futures market’ for reputational risk, kicking the ‘reputational risk can down the road’.

As regular readers of this blog know, I am an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist who also has a strong interest in most ‘all things intangible’ including offering guidance to companies to avoid incurring potentially costly and with increasing frequency, irreversible reputational risks.

I am also an ardent NPR (National Public Radio) listener.  Recently I listened to an NPR program, i.e., The Dianne Rehm Show, in which had three well versed guests variously addressed, from their respective perspectives, the subject of ‘low testosterone’ for men, of course with the benefit of Ms. Rehm’s formidable probing questions.

During the program, while listening to Ms. Rehm’s questions and the responses and remarks made by her guests, it occurred to me that pharmaceutical drug pitches, now well embedded in every media marketing format, may collectively constitute, for lack of a better term, a ‘futures market’ for reputational risk to ‘big pharma’.

My point is this, there are potential ‘future) reputational risks these media campaigns may pose to pharmaceutical companies in terms of influencing viewers/readers, i.e., men, to ‘self diagnose’ based on a generalized check list of physical and emotional symptoms someone has deemed to be associated with men experiencing low testosterone.

So, prompted no doubt, in large part, by the significant rise in prescriptions being written for drugs marketed as elevating or balancing men’s testosterone levels as necessary to mitigate or relieve men of the symptoms the media advertisements have associated with men experiencing ‘low T’.  Now, we learn there are various research entities, including the FDA which have identified specific adverse side effects to consuming these drugs by men, several of which may rather obviously outweigh the benefits, e.g., elevating one’s vulnerability to incurring a heart attack in the initial 70+ days of taking the drug.

To bring more clarity to my question, are pharmaceutical companies that engage in media – marketing presentations aimed at producing not so subtle subliminal inclinations for viewers to (a.) self-diagnose based on the laundry list of symptom descriptors, and (b.) actually seek these recommended’ therapies from their physician, may be positioning (auctioning) themselves to incur future reputational risks in favor of more immediate revenue generation and profit making?

Too, one must ask whether skillfully created media messages that portray a particular disease as perhaps being more prevalent than it really may be, prompts me to reconsider the old adage of ‘the tail wagging the dog’, or, are drugs being manufactured in search of a disease?

The intent seems rather evident, that is to (a.) elevate awareness linked with readily understood symptoms, in order to (b.) create a broader market demand for the drug, when again, the health benefits or adverse complications are yet to be fully understood.

I claim to possess no insight or medical background to make any medical judgments on this matter.  However, through my lens as an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist with strong interest in objectively elevating operational familiarity about corporate reputation risks, I find this, and other similar circumstances akin to ‘kicking the reputation risk can down the road’.  That is, profitability now and costly reputation risk tomorrow, should this or other drugs are found or confirmed to be more physically or emotionally detrimental than what’s being conveyed in the media marketing disclaimers.



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