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Fierce Pharma’s top 2020 marketing stories pack pandemic punch to digital, reputation and drug launches

December 22, 2020 Beth Snyder


The top pharma marketing articles in 2020 reflect the mix of news that epitomized the year of the pandemic.

Take the most-read story, for instance. It was about a familiar theme—drug pricing—but through the COVID-19 lens, as Gilead Sciences’ first-to-market treatment remdesivir got a going-over by cost-effectiveness watchdogs.

Reputation stories were popular in 2020. But again, the typical story in the past—about the pharma industry’s image hovering near the bottom of industry lists—was swapped out with a pandemic twist. Consumers’ hope and confidence as companies rushed to come up with COVID-19 vaccines and treatments boosted the industry’s image beyond its best ratings in decades.

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Digital strategies are another familiar annual topic among the top stories in pharma marketing. But this year, the stories centered on sales reps coping with total lockouts at physicians’ offices and companies developing best practices in uncertain times.

Even our best-read stories about advertising campaigns and strategies straddled the traditional and pandemic. While Gilead’s launch campaign for Descovy, a next-gen HIV prevention drug, focused on a COVID-19-free stigma-busting message, Pfizer’s plans for commercial marketing of its vaccine during the pandemic and beyond also found its way onto the Top 10 list. 

Monday, we laid out predictions for the new year, from digital domination to corporate campaign pushes. While we understand—and hope—that 2021 isn’t likely to bring the blindside punch that upended our 2020 forecast, we will be on the lookout for new emerging trends and reporting them here.

Thank you to the readers who found us and those who stuck with us during the wild swings of this year. This is the last marketing newsletter for 2020—we’ll be back with the first edition of the new year Jan. 4.

Best wishes for happy and healthy holidays!



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