Across nearly every industry, engaging and keeping track of social media has become part of day-to-day operations. The need for maintaining a positive company image and reputation drives a predicted 9% growth rate in public relations jobs, especially since social media has entered the picture. However, stringent FDA regulations make pharmaceutical companies hesitant to jump in. With this in mind, we still think there’s immense value to be gained from a robust brand tracking software that covers every corner of the Internet. 

What exactly are the rules around adverse events?

Adverse events refer to any unexpected outcome of a pharmaceutical product on a patient or clinical test subject. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires manufacturers to report any known adverse events (AE). Most biopharma and pharma companies, including Pfizer and Amgen, have pages on their website where people can report AEs. 

Naturally, pharmaceutical companies are wary of monitoring social media closely, which may open up a can of worms. Synthesio understands these concerns. That’s why we’ve put several processes in place to manage AE reporting, while allowing clients to benefit from the value of social listening. The real-time information sourced from medical providers and caregivers far outweigh the risks. Let’s look at some examples.

Brand tracking to find out where people are talking about your products

We decided to look at eczema, a relatively common condition that affects 31.6 million people in the U.S. alone. While eczema can be a minor inconvenience to some, severe forms of the skin condition can influence daily life. About 33% of affected U.S. children experience moderate-to-severe eczema that impacts physical and social development.

So, where do people turn to when looking for recommendations on remedies and treatments for eczema? On the Internet. Let’s take a look at the basics.


Our social monitoring tool found that conversations around eczema (in general) take up most of the conversation online. However, 14% of conversations are related to OTC eczema relief products. That tells us one important thing: people like to share which products have worked and which ones haven’t.

Next, let’s take a look at where these conversations are happening. In first place is Twitter, where one-third of all discussions related to eczema take place. General news outlets generate about 20% of the buzz. 

Interestingly, Instagram, a photo-sharing platform, also contributes about 20% of the total volume. Our social listening platform allowed us to find the source of these conversations, which mostly came from companies promoting creams, balms, and other OTC products for eczema relief.

Notice how forums, like Reddit and other niche discussion boards, are the fourth most popular place where conversations related to eczema take place. These Reddit forums, threads, and small yet intimate blogs are dedicated to sharing remedies for eczema. And let’s not forget about product reviews on Amazon or Ulta that might highly praise (or criticize) a product designed for eczema relief.

Rather than sharing adverse events, people are seeking advice

So, what exactly did we find? Across Twitter, Reddit, and community boards, we noticed one thing. When it comes to eczema, most people turn to the web not to share adverse events, but to seek advice.

Many people turned to Reddit threads, especially worried parents seeking help from others.


One Reddit user shared that topical Tacrolimus had been an effective treatment for her son.

This same drug came up again from another Reddit user.

While pharmaceutical companies are understandably concerned about finding adverse events on social media, the benefits of social media intelligence far outweigh the odd AE. For the millions of patients living with eczema, Internet forums and blogs are one of the first places they turn to for advice. Without brand monitoring software to keep track of mentions of specific drugs, companies are oblivious to what is being recommended (or not recommended) in the online community. This data informs pharmaceutical and biotech companies about what’s popular, what’s working, and what’s not working. This information should be what’s driving future R&D suggestions.

Brand Tracking To Identify Demand

Many drugs targeting moderate to severe eczema are not approved for children. Earlier this year, there was a significant breakthrough for adolescents with eczema in the form of Dupixent. Developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi Genzyme, this drug inhibits inflammatory response related to eczema. On threads where people seek advice for dealing with eczema, Dupixent comes up often.

However, children under the age of 12 have limited access to the scope of approved corticosteroids and medications. Given that eczema afflicts a whopping 25% of children worldwide, we decided to use our insight surfacing module to see what we could find.

Interestingly, our platform found that conversations related to eczema in children were strongly correlated with online discussions about over-the-counter products for eczema relief. The correlation coefficient was 0.74.


The correlation coefficient between eczema in children and prescription medication, while still noteworthy, is much lower at 0.46.

What factors contribute to this discrepancy? Remember how a good handful of prescription medications are not available to children? Instead, many parents turn to over-the-counter products. There’s a demand there, and companies can fill it. Large pharma companies can consider investing in ointments or creams targeted at young children with eczema. Insights like this might not be immediately evident when sorting through data. Luckily, social media intelligence changes that.

So, what happens when adverse events are found from brand tracking software?

We’ve arrived at the most important question. Yes, there will be posts related to adverse events that will require FDA reporting. That’s inevitable. We recognize the risks, and we’re prepared to handle AEs. We work with several pharma companies and are compliant with AE reporting. In fact, we offer several AE reporting options to best fit the needs of our pharma clients.

A social media intelligence tool allows you to be alerted of potential crisis situations in real-time while giving you the right tools for crisis aversion. You now have the ability to handle the situation before it blows up. At the click of a few buttons, you have the data you need to make quick, actionable decisions.

Moreover, social media intelligence allows you to use the data for more informed decisions in R&D, which helps to develop the science behind your products and prevent future crises. Adopting a tool like this goes further to demonstrate corporate responsibility as a company that cares about public health.

The value gained in real-time feedback on drug effects far outweighs the negative. A well-rounded, flexible social media intelligence platform allows you to understand not just the who, what, and where, but also the why. This crucial piece of the puzzle gives you the data that you need to get answers to pressing business questions.

Social media intelligence goes beyond simple brand tracking to give you an edge on competitive positioning, trend detection, R&D, campaign performance, and crisis aversion. It can help you uncover overlooked insights or entire target demographics. Social media intelligence gives you the data and answers you need to stay ahead. It makes your business intelligence better.

Request a demo to see what social media intelligence can do for you here.