The government casts a wide regulatory shadow over the pharmaceutical industry. A single report linking negative side effects to a new drug can lead to a product recall by the FDA. This heavy hand can potentially cost tens of millions of dollars, and even lead to legal action. Corporate communications and public affairs teams are always tracking the media and key influencers to ensure smooth sailing as a drug moves from research and development to general market availability. As part of this process, innovative communications teams are leveraging media intelligence to guide strategy, determine share of voice and understand negative sentiment.

Zignal Labs examined the drug manufacturing industry in our Pharmaceutical Industry Report and from it we were able to draw some predictions on the issues communications teams will have to deal with in 2017.

Drug Pricing Will be an Even Bigger Issue

The topic that demonstrated  an upward trend towards the end of the year was “pricing”. Over the past 6 months, the cost of drugs has been a contentious issue in the United States. Consumers became painfully aware of price hikes after Turing CEO Martin Shkreli boosted an antimalarial drug by a factor of 56 points.

The issue reached a head in August after it was revealed the price of EpiPen’s had risen from $94 to $600 in the space of 10 years. Based on the topic’s upward trend of historical mentions, overall negative sentiment and the popularity of tweets , we expect the drug price debate to be an even bigger flash point in 2017. Communications teams will need to proactively monitor the conversation around drug prices to ensure their brand stays out of the spotlight when it comes to this topic.


Generic Drug Sales Will Grow

“Generics” and “research” were the topics that generated the most mentions across the entire pharmaceutical industry. This trend was fueled by the announcements of new applications for the drug A-170, SGX943 potential for treating Meliodosi, positive results for Insulin Glargine and other generic drug research. Specifically, these three topics caused a spike in mentions over the month of June. However, the prevalence of both topics waned as the year progressed.


Despite the decline in mentions towards the end of the year, we predict that the conversation around generics will resurface in 2017. As the furor around drug prices fuels, increased demand for generic brands, pharmaceutical companies are expected to respond by launching more generic products. We have already seen this trend start to happen; in the middle of December, Mylan announced they would release a generic EpiPen for half the price.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-9-02-14-am

Hype Around Wearables Will Continue

Wearable devices show tremendous promise for preventative and remote care. These devices will allow physiological readings to be taken continuously and remotely, so that any alteration in a baseline reading would alert a physician. This allows doctors to detect health problems before a serious ailment takes hold. Zignal’s Word Cloud shows how this topic is growing within the pharmaceutical industry. We also believe that this topic will generate an even larger proportion of the conversation in 2017.


Communications teams at pharmaceutical companies face the unenviable job of not just tracking their brand, but all of the various associated product names. Media intelligence platforms can simplify this job by using profiles for each drug, collecting data from all forms of media and displaying it through actionable visualizations.


Click here to see the entire Pharmaceutical Industry Report that shows the top issues around the industry for 2016.