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Crisis Communications: Case Study 3

Situation

A respected Life Sciences reporter working for one of Europe’s most elite and influential daily newspapers was preparing a story that would have alleged that one of the world’s largest biotech companies intentionally covered up damaging data of adverse reactions in order to keep a highly profitable drug on the market. It was an allegation that could have resulted in millions of patients going off their medicines.  It also threatened the company’s reputation and share price. It was the kind of story that makes sensational headlines around the world in an instant.  The biotech firm called on 3D in the hopes of averting a potential public health crisis and a potentially disastrous attack on its reputation.

Solution

Led by a staff member who worked at CBS News “60 Minutes,” 3D’s team analyzed the doctor’s accusations and quickly learned that his conclusions were the result of faulty analysis. He “cherry picked” data from one small study and extrapolated a conclusion that ignored recognized scientific analytical standards.  We culled the most extensive research from several large, lengthy and global Phase 3 studies.  Unlike the huge 15% adverse event rate the doctor was alleging, we found additional evidence to prove that the real rate of adverse reactions, which the company transparently reported globally was only 0.18%.

Results

3D worked with the company to set an aggressive communications strategy.  It was specifically designed to throw a spotlight on how the accusing doctor’s interpretation was highly flawed.  We appealed to the reporter’s journalistic integrity and their responsibility to deliver fair and accurate reporting.

3D then helped the company’s expert, a widely respected researcher, turn her painstakingly researched analysis of the comprehensive data into clear and convincing messages. Armed with the facts, the respected science reporter concluded that to give the accusing oncologist a forum to disseminate faulty data was more than a breach of journalistic integrity, it could have been a threat to public health. The newspaper killed the story. A potential health crisis was averted. The company’s reputation remained intact.