Sunday, February 18, 2007

Who is PharmaGossip's "Jack Friday" aka Insider?

One of may favoritest sites in the Pharma Blogosphere is PharmaGossip, which started up in September, 2005. I read it every single day.

PharmaGossip's author disguises his identity and uses the alias Insider, but often refers to himself as "Jack Friday."

Perhaps the name "Jack Friday" is a combination of two names of famous and infamous TV law enforcement characters -- Joe Friday (Dragnet) and Jack Bauer (24) . I seriously doubt, and hope that it's not true, that our Jack Friday could be a fan of Jack Bauer -- a character who would have been right at home at Abu Ghraib prison!

From Jack's profile and postings, we know he resides "somewhere" in GB. I suspect, therefore, that "Jack Friday" is merely a British form of "Joe Friday." Joe just is not a proper British name, even if it is a pen name or alias.

Let's continue with the gossip: What else do we know about Jack Friday?

Let me start it off by suggesting that if "Jack" remembers Dragnet, a show popular in the 60's, then he must be a member of the boomer generation.

The American Connection
Jack has a love-hate relationship with America. He seems to take an extraordinary interest in US politics and culture. Along with 67% of Americans, for example, Insider disapproves of George Bush and his Iraq war policy. This is clear from political posts often seen on PharmaGossip (see, for example, "Abu Ghraib Art" and "Have a great weekend everyone"). Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Of course, a lot of European bloggers may be interested in US politics these days, but I suspect Jack is an expatriate American. And since he rooted for the Bears in the Super Bowl, is a Cubs fan and likes Budweiser beer, I'd say he's from the midwest, perhaps even Chicago. He even knows about special events at Harry Caray’s Restaurant in Chicago (see "Cheers Harry!").
His curt profile refers to doctors, so we can assume Jack is a physician:
The term "PR" means somthing (sic) completely different to a medical doctor! "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." - Benjamin Franklin. 'It takes a wise doctor to know when not to prescribe." [See, he quotes a famous American, who, if anything, the Brits should hate because of his role in the American Revolutionary War in which we whooped their asses! This is another reason why I think Jack is an expatriate.]
His "Insider" alias suggests he is a physician working inside a pharmaceutical company -- maybe GSK or AZ, which are the two largest UK-based pharma companies that I can think of.

That's all that is "known" about Jack's identity and background -- and even this is conjecture! But it's all good gossip, which Jack should appreciate!

The Insider takes extraordinary pains to keep his identity secret. He would not even consent to an interview with me by phone with his voice disguised. But if you know more about Jack -- fictional or otherwise -- leave a comment. But seriously, don't "out" the guy if you really know who he is.

As much as we would like to learn the true identity of Insider, we must respect his wishes to remain anonymous. For if he were "outed" we would surely lose one of the best blogs in the Pharma Blogosphere. One famous pharma blogger may already have been outed and his blog shut down (see "Pharma Watch Author Outed?").

According to the first posting on PharmaGossip, Jack's mission is to "look at the pharmaceutical industry with a seasoned, if not cynical, eye and ...provide some insights into what is happening (and why) in Big Pharma. Spin will be sniffed out and gossip encouraged!"

PharmaGossip sometimes does come up with what seems to be "insider information," some of which may be contributed by readers, but most of the time sources of information for posts are publications and other blogs.

That brings me to why I like PharmaGossip so much -- Jack is quick to praise other bloggers. Many a time I have found a comment such as "Spot On!", "greatest post ever", etc. that Jack has left on my blog.

PharmaGossip is also there when you need help as when Derek Lowe, author of the blog In the Pipeline, needed a new job (see "Work Wanted").

Jack often features other blogger's posts in his blog and helps promote projects such as the First Ever Pharma Blogosphere Survey hosted by this site.

In the aforementioned poll, a sizable percentage of respondents read pharma-related blogs to be entertained. PharmaGossip has satisfied that need and then some. The blog is peppered with entertaining music videos, for example. There are also many "doctored" photos and cartoons.

As in some other blogs -- most notably Question Authority -- there is a fair amount of sexual content on PharmaGossip. This is not surprising considering that the vast majority of blogs in the Pharma Blogosphere are run by men (see "It's Raining Men in the Pharma Blogosphere") and maybe the readership also is mostly male.

But, unlike Question Authority, which will show you videos of super models having sex on the beach in Brazil, PharmaGossip's sexual content almost always relates to the pharmaceutical industry. One example of such a post is "Is this how Pfizer pick their new drug reps?", which features a video of a swim suit competetion at a Pfizer/Viagra sponsored racing event in Mexico. The women are purported to be prostitutes, which is not an illegal profession in Mexico.

The men sure seem to be enjoying the show, which was captured by a cell phone. You can follow the link on PharmaGossip to Pfizer's Mexican Web site, which promoted this event: "We invite you to this magnificent sport event and to Ignite your motors!" Or something to that effect. It sure ignited my motor! What the hell! He's the video, again (for men only!):

Why oh why did they boo numero cuatro?!!!

OK, so you can be entertained by PharmaGossip, but you can also keep up to date with industry news and gossip on a daily basis. Since the site originates in GB, aka UK, you will also learn a lot about pharma company shenanigans in Europe. This may not be too exciting for US readers, but there's a whole 'nother world out there and PharmaGossip is a great window into that world.

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