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By:  IACP Member Scot Maitland, BAAS, Co-Owner, Live Oak Pharmacy (Austin, TX)

A recent investigative report from ABC News found that most “advertisements for drugs are out of bounds when it comes to complying with U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations on advertising to doctors, researchers found.” The article goes on to state that nearly half of the ads viewed ignored at least one rule and nearly one third were “possibly” missing information that the FDA requires. That can cause some alarm for independent pharmacy owners who are concerned about diving into the social media pool. 

But social media is vital to the life of your compounding pharmacy. Don’t believe me? Digest this fact then, 97 percent* of consumers now use online media when researching products or services in their local area. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to rely on the 3 percent that aren’t using social media. And it’s not just the public that is using social media, it’s your prescribers as well. 88 percent** of all physicians use the Internet to access pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device information. 

Here’s the missing ingredient – social media is about creating community and building relationships. In fact, social media is a lot like dating. There’s give and take, there’s wooing involved and it can be painful if your actions aren’t reciprocated. But it can also be fun and a great way to engage your B2B (prescribers) and B2C (patients) customers. Let’s start with the basics.

  • Don’t talk about specific drugs.
  • Do talk about conditions, issues and problems associated with medication.
  • Don’t talk about compounding as a cheaper option.
  • Do talk about compounding as a way to meet unique needs that a patient can’t get from “off the shelf” medicines. 
  • Don’t talk about brand name prescriptions and how you can compound an alternative.
  • Do talk about the triad relationship between pharmacist, prescriber and patient.
  • Don’t just talk about compounding or prescriptions.
  • Do talk about the role of a pharmacist as a health care provider and how your patient-focused services bring value.

Other things worth sharing on social media include:

Upcoming community events: 

Information about events going on in your store:

Information about events that your partner prescriber events are doing:   

Pictures from events in your store: 

Information about health observances and how a pharmacist can help: 

A few other things to keep in mind . . . 

Post frequently otherwise folks will forget about you, be honest, foster conversations and most importantly, remember HIPAA.

For more tips on social media, login to the IACP Member Center to read “Socially Networked” in the July issue of America’s Pharmacist.

Read the full story from ABC News here.

*BIA/Kelsey’s and www.kelseygroup.com  View Wave VII, an ongoing consumer tracking study conducted with research partner ConStat.

**Manhattan Research 2008 Study

Scot Maitland is the Co-Owner and Director of Communications for Live Oak Pharmacy, a hybrid pharmacy in Austin Texas. He is also the founder and Editor of Pharmacy Marketing Quarterly. Scot has spoken throughout the United States as well as Australia on social media and marketing for independent pharmacy and is a volunteer member of the IACP Communications Committee.