Watching Your Social Media Channels on Holiday Weekends?
While many of us were watching the US Women’s national soccer team score three goals in 16 minutes last night, someone at Tesaro Pharma was watching 3,000 people sign a petition in less than 16 hours.
Tesaro, a biopharmaceutical company that is currently running a clinical trial for a targeted therapy (a PARP Inhibitor) for cancer patients with BRCA mutations, had a Facebook page and a Twitter account, but was not active in social media.
On Sunday morning (local time in Israel), Ahava Emuhah Lange (an Israeli Ovarian Cancer patient enrolled in the Tesaro trial), posted a petition on change.org and a blog post calling on Tesaro to unblind her participation so that she would have additional options to fight her ovarian cancer recurrence. If she has been on the placebo, she would eligible for other PARP inhibitor trials.
As with most pharmaceutical companies, Tesaro does not allow individuals to initiate new posts on its Facebook page. However, one of Lange’s friends cleverly posted a comment as a response to Tesaro’s updating of their cover photo which others joined in on.
In Twitter, Lange’s husband posted a plea as did many of her friends and within just a few hours the international community of BRCA patient advocates (including @NickiDurleste and @brcaresponder) joined in as did their allies in the larger hereditary cancer community (such as @hc_chat and @shewithlynch ).
Later that same day, Tesaro turned to Twitter and Facebook to let people know that they were working with Lange to unblind the study and get her the information she needed. As reported in The Times of Israel, “And on Monday, the company did indeed do so, said Lange, confidentially informing her of what she and her physicians needed to know.”
So why should pharma companies engage in social media and pay attention on holiday weekends? While those of us engaged in the hereditary cancer discussions (I am a BRCA1+ chronic bladder cancer patient) knew of Lange’s struggle with Tesaro on Sunday, the story that most people will remember is how Tesaro was responsive to the needs of patients.
We can all cheer for this win.