Public Relations, Strategic Crisis Management, Media Relations, Media Training
The IDMA (Indian Drug Manufacturers Association) was formed in 1961 to promote research and development of new drugs in the country, establish just and equitable principles in trade, and control business among its members. It currently counts 900 large, medium and small enterprises and state boards in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Haryana, Uttaranchal, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh amongst its members.
After a leakage in the supply chain of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine was identified by police officials in Mumbai and traced to a factory in Gujarat, the drugs manufacturing industry received major backlash. Several reports were churned out from prominent media houses depicting scenarios where these substances could be abused as drugs. The Indian Drug Manufacturers Association wished to curb this misinformation and set the record straight about the status of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine production in India.
We put together a proactive plan to direct media attention away from the sensationalism of the news and combat misinformation that was being spread by various parties involved. Simultaneously, we trained the spokesperson of the IDMA to ensure they were equipped to successfully handle difficult questions from the media.
We built a strong body of facts that clearly highlighted the legal status of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine production in India, and its medical uses, especially as a decongestant in medicines popularly used to treat asthma, colds, sinus infections and allergies. Most importantly, we emphasized that these ingredients by themselves were not substances of abuse, rather precursors to chemicals that could be used to manufacture methamphetamines and were hence strictly regulated. To ensure transparent communication and credibility, we facilitated several interactions between key members of the media with spokespeople from the IDMA.
We succeeded in shifting the focus of the media from pure sensationalism to a more nuanced conversation that was backed by solid facts. This helped to dispel the negative publicity that drug manufacturers were receiving and show them in a balanced, positive light. The news was taken up by key mainline, online and B2B publications such as The Hindu Business Line, DNA, Livemint and Pharma Biz.