Rxsave: passion is painful

Whatever happens later today, I want to acknowledge AstraZeneca’s desire to continue to innovate within the social web as they prepare for tonight’s #Rxsave Twitter chat (8pm EDT, 16 February 2011).

I hope that everyone who participates gets a chance to air their opinions, and logs off feeling that they have been acknowledged and that their contribution has been heard.

You can review the conversation that has taken place thus far as well as follow the hour-long discussion live here.

Passions are already running high. That’s not surprising.

The social web is not a space wherein a virtue is made of quiet reflection. Well, with the exception of the Virtual Abbey, perhaps. 🙂

It is not enough to just be ‘mildly concerned’ or ‘generally interested’ in something in this environment. Rather, you are apparently expected to be full-on, in your face, 100% ‘passionate’ at all times.

‘Passion’ is a much abused word in the social web. It seems that if you do not declare that you are ‘passionate’ about something, you just don’t care enough.

However, of all the uses to which this poor, overworked word is put, perhaps healthcare advocates are justified in describing themselves as ‘passionate’.

In fact, the etymology of  passion is strikingly appropriate and relevant to a healthcare setting, being variously informed by and derived from the Middle English (martyr), Late Latin ( physical suffering) and Latin (an undergoing).

When we discuss health, whether we are talking about ourselves or advocating on behalf of others, it is only right that we should express ourselves fully and frankly.

There is nothing more important than our well-being.

Our quality of life is our life.

David Hume said famously that ‘reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions‘. Whilst there is always going to be a tussle between our desire and our reason, we must accede that a discussion is only a discussion when both sides speak, listen, understand and respond. Otherwise, we’re just shouting at each other.

Of course, we only shout because we feel that we haven’t been heard in the first place.

If the discussion is going to continue, then everyone is going to have to be prepared to find the middle ground that they are prepared to occupy.

In the case of the Rxsave discussion, this means allowing patients and consumers the opportunity to get what they want out of the conversation, and affording the pharma industry, personified on this occasion by AstraZeneca, enough reasons to want to come back and do this again. I for one hope that they do.

It is a given that this ground is going to be less than ideal and far from comfortable for everyone standing on it. It may seem uneven, and threaten to unbalance us, but as long as we hold out our hands to keep each other steady, hopefully we can all stay on our feet and have a chance to move forward together.

5 thoughts on “Rxsave: passion is painful

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Rxsave: passion is painful « STweM -- Topsy.com

  2. It’s certainly a brave move for a pharma company to set up a tweet chat on a contentious subject – though it fits in with things like Astrazeneca’s @azhelps Twitter account.

    Do you think other companies will follow suit? And should future tweet chats focus more on things like how to manage a particular disease?


    • Hi Dominic

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I agree, there is a certain complementarity between the Rxsave event and @AZHelps.

      As to whether other companies will follow suit: I should imagine a great many industry folk will be watching this evening asking themselves the same thing.

      With regard to the question as to whether future tweet chats could focus more on subjects like disease management, I’d say ‘certainly’. As long as patient need is being served, the participants’ privacy is respected, and all the usual requirements governing the industry’s representation of itself within any media are observed and adhered to, I see no reason why they should not.

      Initiatives such as Rxsave signify the dawning of a perception within the industry that there are significant, long term mutual advantages in showing a commitment to moving away from promotion towards information, and whilst in this instance the topic may be little more than a gesture towards this, the mere fact that the event it taking place at all is of some importance.

      I hope that other Pharma companies are inspired to follow AstraZeneca’s lead here and start walking the walk with a little more intent.


  3. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for discussing this.

    The dilemma is a bit like what happened in South Africa once Mandela became president.

    For them to “move on” beyond the bad times there had to be a period of “Truth and Recocilliation”.

    AZ have paid $520 million – but have still not admitted any wrongdoing!


    Big Pharma’s entry into SM will be hampered if there is no “truth and reconcilliation”.

    • Hello PG!

      I wish I could call you by name, too. 😉

      I like your analogy.

      I would like to think that we are entering an era when Pharma can finally begin to consider the management of its reputation and the way that it deports itself in its totality.

      I would also like to think that enterprises such as Rxsave denote that the conditions of possibility for such a reformation are beginning to coalesce.


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