New Trends, Longstanding Study: the Media and the Pharmaceutical Industry: Kayla Herbert ‘19

Kayla Herbert '19

Kayla Herbert ’19

For 13 years, researchers at Saint Joseph’s have been tracking how the pharmaceutical industry is portrayed in mainstream media. This year, the students and faculty working on the team encountered a unique trend.

“For the first time in the project’s history, a topic that was once insignificant in terms of the data jumped from obscurity to the number two industry-connected topic being discussed,” says Steve Porth, Ph.D.’80, professor of management and co-lead for the research.

The topic? Opioid addiction.

“A large percentage of the articles we’ve been assessing have been related to the opioid crisis, whether the industry’s role in the crisis or its ability to help solve it,” says Summer Scholar Kayla Herbert ’19, who is participating in the research for the first time this summer.

Herbert, a native of Robbinsville, New Jersey, is analyzing the slant of pieces toward the pharmaceutical industry — positive, negative or neutral.

“It’s been interesting to see how the data and healthcare topics intersect,” says Herbert, a pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing major who was drawn to the project after interacting in a class with George Sillup, Ph.D, professor and chair of pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing and Porth’s co-author on the research.

“The work is different from typical classwork because it is very analytical and entirely based on real life situations,” says Herbert, adding that the hands-on experience has taught her about how pharmaceutical industry topics overlap with matters of health, government policies, culture and more. Regarding the opioid crisis, and the number one topic (eight years running) — drug pricing — this is especially true.

According to Herbert, the process of collecting data on issues related to the industry has changed her perspective on these often complex topics. “By observing a variety of viewpoints and approaches, we’re challenged to consider them from every angle,” she says.

“Participating in research like this gives St. Joe’s students an advantage,” Herbert says. “We have opportunities to dive deep into the industry and to understand all of the factors at play while developing skills that will help us in the job market.”


Project title: Analyzing the Pharmaceutical Industry through Media Coverage

Mentors: George Sillup, Ph.D., professor and chair of pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing and Steve Porth, Ph.D., professor of management

Hometown: Robbinsville, New Jersey

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