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Video Blog: The Right Way to Conduct Media Training

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Paul Oestreicher

You’re absolutely right, as usual.
Digging into this a little more, the WSJ article gives us some insights on how one can minimize the chances of being surprised and disappointed by a patient spokesperson. Here are some examples that I talked about in my blog,, on the same subject of BMS and Andy Behrman:
• Dont’ talk in absolutes. When he switched to Abilify, Mr. Behrman said that all of his drug side effects “went away.” This assertion was made repeatedly and never should have been sanctioned by BMS and its PR firm. While Abilify may have a better safety profile than some other atypical antipsychotics, it carries a long list of side effects and warnings on its label.
• Ensure authenticity. The BMS contract didn’t require Mr. Behrman to take Abilify yet there he was talking up the benefits.
• Conduct due diligence. Mr. Behrman signed a waiver allowing his doctor to share his medical records but BMS never checked them.
• Communicate good news and bad. Although Mr. Behrman said he was in almost contact with BMS and its PR firm, the bad news that he was, in fact, experiencing some side effects and stopped taking the medication was either ignored and/or never brought to a higher level.
• Be prepared to jump the rails. It’s hard to pull the plug on a program, an investment, but that’s what we must do when things go dangerously off track.
So, is Andy Behrman an honest whistle blower or a calculating opportunist? Or, has he been overtaken again by his illness? It’s possible that these are questions that we may not be asking if more thought, care and scrutiny went into the communications planning and review process.

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