The Modern Soapbox

August 2, 2006
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-08-02-2006, Volume 30, Issue 8

Street-corner oratory may seem like a dying art, but if there's one place you can still find people literally up on their soapboxes, spewing views on religion, politics, or ethics, it's New York City. And, if there's one time I religiously follow the advice of my native New Yorker father ("Look down while you're walking and don't make eye contact with people you pass"), it's when I see these soapbox stars and the crowds surrounding them.

Street-corner oratory may seem like a dying art, but if there's one place you can still find people literally up on their soapboxes, spewing views on religion, politics, or ethics, it's New York City. And, if there's one time I religiously follow the advice of my native New Yorker father ("Look down while you're walking and don't make eye contact with people you pass"), it's when I see these soapbox stars and the crowds surrounding them.

Kaylynn Chiarello-Ebner

No matter how passionately they make their cases, I never stop to listen to their views on global warming or the current presidential administration. Really, what's the value of taking the time to listen to a stranger's random thoughts and rants?

I'll tell you. Though not everyone has access to a street corner and a crowd, Web logs (or "blogs") are readily available. Bloggers electronically publish comments for all to read on every issue imaginable, including the pharmaceutical industry. Be they conversational or academic, it may be useful to tune in to the developing pharma dialogue.

A recent San Francisco Business Chronicle article claimed the pharmaceutical industry is "not hip" to blogging. The reason? Drug makers are wary of reading a blogger's description of an adverse event that might start the clock for reporting the problem to FDA.

Though it would be helpful to know how FDA would treat these unwelcome discoveries, patient blogs could be useful for culling together unfettered feedback on products or quickly spreading the word about recalls. On the manufacturing side, we could use industry-hosted blogs to exchange views about new FDA guidances, provide advice about cost-cutting manufacturing strategies, or debate the best tableting techniques.

Yes, most blogs are neither edited nor fact checked, and information must be taken with a grain of salt. But, an open dialogue could be a good resource, provided industry folks are willing to lend a cautious ear and a voice. Now and then, I'll be sure to pause on the virtual corner to take in some soapbox speechifying.

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