Friday, November 21, 2014

Are Pharmaceutical Ads Creating New Illnesses?

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Did you know it has been 17 years since direct-to-consumer drug (DTC) advertising was permitted in the United States? If you haven’t noticed from the advertising on your TV, the results are pretty obvious. DTC advertising, on which Big Pharma spends over $3 billion a year, has done much more than sell pills - through their educational efforts,  the pharma industry has even sold new diseases to a very paranoid audience.

In fact, when people hear a TV ad about depression, many think it’s an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or another medical group. But, the truth is, according to Investigative Drug Reporter Martha Rosenberg, most disease awareness messages are about Big Pharma trying to get people to diagnose themselves with a disease to create demand for a new drug.

“There is no relationship between public health needs and the direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising” which makes a disease popular,” according to Madhusree Singh, MD in the Journal of the Society of General Internal Medicine. “Anecdotally, I can tell you that if I got a dime for every time a patient asked for a drug by name, I would not need to go to work.”

The pharma industry has been selling diseases that require expensive drugs and new drugs suppress the immune system. In fact, they can make the companies as much as $20,000 a year per patient, but while they can be useful for people suffering from autoimmune disorders, it’s unconscionable to market drugs with poor safety profiles to people who don’t need them.

Many of the diseases marketed to consumers through direct advertising don’t have clear biological markers. And Big Pharma’s awareness ads have created a nation of patients who don’t just ask their doctors if they have a disease they saw on TV — they often insist to their clinician that they’re suffering from a disorder.

John Abramson, MD, author of “Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine” and a clinical instructor at Harvard told CNN, “I could not convince many of my patients that the marketing they were hearing about Vioxx was maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks,” he said. “That’s how powerful the advertising is.”

We’ll have more on the latest in pharma marketing at ePharma. Join us February 24-26 in New York, NY.

This piece was contributed by @AmandaCicc.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Digital Pharmaceutical Marketing Growth Requires New Industry Standards

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These days, as pharmaceutical marketing has moved from traditional face-to-face towards digital, physicians are not always aware of the new ways they’re being marketed to, which means more transparency is essential for success.

In fact, a new piece in The New England Journal of Medicine, written by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, discusses key digital marketing tactics targeting physicians, outlines concerns about the influence over physician decisions, and makes recommendations about how to update policies to keep up with the constantly changing pharma marketing space.

Pharmaceutical companies currently spend 25 percent of their marketing budgets on digital technologies, such as websites and social media,” the authors wrote.  “Electronic health records (EHRs), social media and mobile applications represent new ways for pharmaceutical companies to conduct market research and to market directly to physicians.”

According to the piece, anonymized EHRs provide pharma companies with patient information and insight about why physicians choose certain treatments. Therefore, EHRs can be used for direct marketing to physicians through banner ads, sponsored clinical resources and much more. “Unlike traditional forms of advertising, digital technologies enable tailoring of advertisements to individual physicians on the basis of data from clinical encounters,” the authors wrote.

Additionally, social media platforms that are restricted to physicians are way for companies to reach out, using marketing tactics like sponsored discussion forums. Also, mobile applications allow companies to market to physicians, using data that tracks the type of information physicians are looking up and targeting sponsored alerts accordingly.

“Traditional marketing, including visits by sales representatives, gifts to physicians and lectures by opinion leaders, influences treatment decisions even though it mostly occurs outside of patient care settings. Although marketing can lead to reductions in under-treatment of some conditions, it has more often been associated with over-diagnosis, overtreatment and overuse of brand-name medications,” wrote the authors. “Digital advertising creates new pathways for reaching physicians, allowing delivery of marketing messages at the point of care, when clinical decisions are being made.”

So, the authors recommend a three-pronged approach to fix policies to address the insidious nature of digital marketing tools that are integrated into electronic resources for patient care. First, they recommend greater transparency from EHRs, social media sites and mobile applications about what data are collected and how they are used. Secondly, they recommend physicians to use the same caution with online interactions as with in-person interactions with sales representatives. Lastly, the authors suggest that professional societies issue guidelines calling for firewalls to keep marketing out of patent visits.

The authors wrote, “Digital technology is changing the nature of marketing, and policies intended to limit its influence are lagging behind. But the medical profession can enact policies to ensure that patients, not advertising, remain the focus of care.”

We’ll have more on the latest in pharma marketing at ePharma. Join us February 24-26 in New York, NY.

This piece was contributed by @AmandaCicc.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Looking for more engagement with your patients? Try texting them

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The quest for patient engagement is still one of the areas doctors are working to perfect.  In a recent infographic from Televox, they look at the opportunities that come from innovative, out of the box ways for physicians to communicate with their patients.   Land lines are moving out and issuing in a new era of two way engagement is the SmartPhone which can elevate traditional phone calls to  confirmation tools and Q&A devices.

A few of the stats that stood out to me in this infographic were:
  • 39% of American households surveyed now only use wireless devices.  Home phone numbers may soon become a thing of the past.
  • Wireless device penetration in the United States is 102%
  • 82% of Americans surveyed think that communicating digitally with a doctor would be beneficial
  • Consumers read 98% of text messages

Presented By TeleVox

This February at ePharma, we'll go in-depth with professionals who are on the front lines of patient engagement in the new healthcare ecosystem. ePharma will take place February 24-26, 2016 in New York. We're putting the finishing touches on this year's agenda, so sign up for email updates to be alerted when the program is released.  Want to get the lowest rates of the year?  Register today.

Do you think using texting as a medium to reach patients will lead to better patient outcomes and compliance?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Road Map for a Successful Social Media Strategy

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What does it take for a successful social media strategy to take hold in a company? Telerex recently published a white paper that looks at how a Pharma company can align themselves so that a social media strategy can be successful.

So what does Telerex define as important steps on a road to success in Pharma social media marketing?
  • Strong internal agreement and a centralized strategy are important for a successful social media strategy
  • Laying groundwork and having plans for community content and strategy before kicking off any program
  • Define proper use of social media channels and share those in guidelines with your communities
  • Objectives for social media success should be identified up front
  • When using social media, remember it's another channel in your strategy driving the same message and story.
  • Identify where you are starting on the social media chain and identify the right messaging and communication from there: broadcasting, listening or engaging
Also in this white paper, Telerex covers how to build the right social media team for success, suggestions to working with adverse events on social media, setting up content strategies and platform strategies within them and more.  Download the full white paper here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ePharma is Coming February 24-26 | Find out about our BOGO Offer!

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Join the premier life science marketing event at IIR's ePharma 2015, February 24-26th, in New York City. ePharma provides you with the content from industry thought leaders and peer interactions you need to develop a best-in-class (and highly profitable!) marketing plan.

Attend ePharma and learn how to:
  • Integrate the 3 Ps: providers, patients and payers for cohesive outreach
  • Implement a customer-centric approach to marketing, whether your customers are HCPs, patients or a new customer bases (for example, ACOs or IDNs)
  • Use data to create a multi-pronged, customized customer journey
  • Prove that digital marketing is making sales, paying off, and should be central to all marketing outreach

Confirmed speakers to date include:
  • Lisa Caldwell, Marketing Director, US Vaccines, GSK*
  • Ryan Billings, Director, Social Strategy, AstraZeneca*
  • Peter Dannenfelser, Director of Marketing, Digital North America, Janssen Pharmaceuticals
  • Jay Denhart-Lillard, Center for Innovative Customer Experience, Lilly USA, LLC*
  • Robert Greif, Vice President, Commercial Operations, EVO Biologics*
  • Sarah Holloway, PhD, Marketing Director, TAK-114, General Medicine Global Marketing, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.*
  • Paul Ivans, President, Evolution Road Consulting
  • Erika Jurrens, MBA, BBSS, Pediatric Brand Marketing, Vaccines Business Unit, US Pharma, GSK*
  • Stephan Klaschka, Director, Global Innovation Management, Boehringer Ingelheim*
  • Monique Levy, Vice President of Research, Manhattan Research
  • Gary Lewandowski, Director of Marketing, Purdue Pharma*
  • Robert Noble, Product Director, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc.
  • Nicole Salis, Senior Manager, eMCM Business Partner, Pfizer*
  • Julia Strandberg, Vice President, Global Marketing, Covidien*
  • Jennifer Thomas, Product Director, GI Marketing, Janssen*
  • John Vieira, Senior Director, Global Brand Strategy, Edoxaban, Daiichi Sankyo
  • Kristin Vitanza, Brand Director, Marketing, Endo Pharmaceuticals*
    • * denotes new to ePharma

We’re also pleased to announce our new Buy One, Get One Offer!
If we've piqued your interest, register online or call customer service at 1-888-670-8200 to attend the conference and receive a FREE PASS for one of your colleagues! Yes, that's right, if you buy one pass to the event, you will be able to register a guest for free.** 

Have any questions or need any more information? Free free to reach out to me at

**Qualifications, rules and regulations:
1. Offer only applicable to employees of pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device manufacturers subject to IIR approval.
2. If one of the Buy One, Get One Free delegates cancels, the remaining delegate will be invoiced for the full registration price at the time of the cancellation. Please refer to current pricing for valued rates indicated. All fees must be paid in full by expiration date or your price will increase to the next level tier.
3. Offer cannot be applied retroactively to confirmed registrants.
4. The Buy One, Get One Free Offer cannot be combined with any team discounts or other promotions and/or discount offers.
6. Registrations for both individuals must occur at the same time and be for the same rate.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How Wearables Can Meet Aggressive Projections

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Wearable technology is expected to grow to be a $30 billion market by 2018 but while many people are beginning to come around on the benefits, there are still plenty of reasons to be skeptical.  According to a recent report from PWC, 86% of consumers believe wearables make us vulnerable to security breaches, 82% believe it invades their privacy and 72% feel it hurts our ability to relate to other humans.

That said, there are still many out there that feel strongly about the benefits wearables have to offer.  Of that same group, more than three-quarters believe wearables are important for them to get more out of their time with another 74% of the belief that the technology can help to relieve stress.  Many also believe they can offer a number of other health benefits (although these non-medical opinions are probably best taken with a grain of salt).  This begs the question of what can be done to encourage users to adopt this technology and in turn, reap these benefits. 

Not surprisingly, respondents indicated that monetary assistance would go a long way in their adoption.  For every demographic across every type of wearable device, price was the number one barrier to adoption.  While almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents would be willing to utilize a smart watch if an institution paid for it, that number dropped to 42% if the consumer was theoretically responsible for $100 of that cost.  Interestingly enough, consumers still showed a strong aversion to smart glasses (generally the most expensive in this category) even with the monetary aspect absent from the equation.

Brand also proved to have a strong correlation to consumer’s willingness to adopt these technologies.  No real surprise here: Users are more willing to experiment with technology from traditional tech giants—Apple, Amazon, Google—then any other brand.  The conclusion we can draw from this? As the report states, “In a market that is saturated with technology for innovation’s sake, we don’t need more innovation—we need more meaningful applications.”  We need meaningful disruption.  A category that a theoretical McDonald’s smart watch may not necessarily qualify for.    

All other things being equal, users indicated they’d be more likely to adopt this technology if that adoption itself was incentivized.  More than half of millennials said they’d be strongly motivated to utilize a device if it had “apps/features that reward those who frequently use it with monetary rewards.”  Similarly, 70% of overall respondents said they’d be willing to wear an employer-provided wearable if it meant breaks on their insurance premiums.

It remains to be seen whether the enormous projections about wearables will come to fruition.  Until then, all we can do is speculate on the number of Fitbit-toting, smart watch-wearing “Glassholes”. 

We’ll have more on the latest in wearables and pharma marketing at ePharma. Join us February 24-26 in New York, NY.

This piece was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

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Friday, October 24, 2014

ePharma Buzz- 10/24

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#ePharma news waits for no man.  As digitally connected as we all are, it’s easy to miss a thing or two over the course of a busy week.  Are you guilty of putting down your phone, iPad or laptop for an hour or two these last few days?  No sweat.  We took the liberty of pulling together some worthwhile pieces of news from this past week.   

Uber's Well-Suited For House Calls — Uberhealth Should Live On, Venture Beat- We've seen several tech giants begin to delve into healthcare lately.  Could Uber be the latest on that list?  The company executed a one-day pilot with Harvard medical school to deliver flu vaccinations in New York City, D.C. and Boston yesterday.  All shots are administered by a registered RN.  The vaccinations are at no cost to the patient but Uber does ask that you have a “suitable indoor environment” ready before the nurse arrives.  The pilot program was available for a five hour window (although it's unclear how a strike by NYC Uber drivers may have disrupted some of those plans).    

Alyssa Greenberg for Uber

Amy Price: Patients Doing Research For Themselves, The BMJ- Should patients be “allowed” to do their own research?  Some feel that they can do more harm than good with this sort of “self-experimentation”.  Amy Price shows that patients do in fact have a track record of successfully researching and self-managing their own conditions.  This begs the question as to whether those without medical training can contribute to health innovation.  The article cites some examples that answer that question.  

5 Reasons Why Digital Pharma Needs Physician Key Opinion Leaders¸ mHealth News- David Lee Scher (@dlschermd) writes that physician key opinion leaders (KOLs) will pave the way for provider acceptance of shared decision making.  He projects the arrival of a new group of digital KOLs will compliment the traditional group.  One of his arguments for the establishment of this new group is that “physicians are at the crossroads of all things medical and digital.” He sees patient portals as the future digital hub of healthcare and the “gateway to connected health.”  David’s other four arguments can be found in the article.

Back to the Future of Medicine: 3 Reasons Why Healthcare Needs Hackathons, LinkedIn- Healthcare and tech are beginning to overlap in more and more instances so naturally, we’re seeing the growth of healthcare hackathons.  Aman Bhandari (@GHideas) and Sachin Jain (@sacjai) have analyzed over 100 health related hackathons since they say the first one was launched in 2010.  According to that data, there have been 51 to date this year in comparison to 36 last year and 23 the year before.  “The hackathon model, while not a cure-all provides an unparalleled innovation opportunity,” writes Bhandari.

Drugmakers May Need Indemnity For Fast-Tracked Ebola Vaccines¸ Reuters- Drug makers are reportedly looking for some type of protection for governments against potential claims stemming from any emergency use of new Ebola vaccines in Africa.  GSK Chief Executive Andrew Witty is quoted as saying that a system of indemnity makes sense given the unique circumstances brought on by this situation.  Witty said the indemnity would not be necessary for early clinical trial programs but would be important down the road.  A high level meeting to discuss the topic was held in Geneva late yesterday. 

We’ll have more on the latest in the field of pharma marketing at ePharma. Join us February 24-26 in New York, NY.

This piece was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pharma Salaries Dip Across the Board

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The results of this year’s MM&M salary survey may be a case of the glass half full versus glass half empty conundrum.  Salaries across the board were down 5.5% but at the same time, it was the second highest average in the 28 year history of the survey.  This may come as a surprise to some given the state of competition for talent in the industry. “The growth that I’ve seen and the turnaround in the industry in the past 18 months has really caused an increase in competition for top talent, which comes with paying some money,” according to Frank Powers, Dudnyk President.  

The average salary figure, of course, only begins to tell the story as the dips in salary varied across market sector, company size and type of employer.  The biggest discrepancy, however, lies in the average salary by gender. 

Those employed by manufacturers in pharma fared “less badly” than most of their peers.  These salaries reflected only a 2.9% decline year-over-year compared to those working in agency (11.2%), professional media (6.5%) and consumer media (17.7%) settings.  Only the group classified as service suppliers and vendors showed an increase (4.7%) however this represented only 9% of the total respondents.  Some of this may be attributable to pharma increasingly looking outside the organization/industry for help with certain digital capabilities and tech initiatives—expertise that’s proved difficult to come by within the field. 

Pharma salary average employer pharmaceutical

In terms of specific market sectors, prescription pharma fared the best in a situation where there was drop-off across the board.  That segment showed only a 3.3% decline while the rest of the industry had drop-offs between 12% and 23%.  

Pharma average salary market sector pharmaceutical

The biggest disparity in average salary lies in gender with female respondents making, on average, only 75% of what their male counterparts are paid.  According to this survey, many of the upper level jobs in pharma are currently dominated by men.  The positions of President (80%), CEO (87%), Executive VP (84%), Research Director (75%) and Sales Director (84%) all skewed heavily male.  At the same time, some of the more junior positions such as Account Supervisor (65%) and Account Manager (61%) had the majority represented by women.

Pharma is actually not far off from the rest of the country in this regard.  As a generally accepted figure, women on average make about 77% of what men make in the US. 

The full results of the MM&M survey can be found here.  

We’ll have more on the latest in the field of pharma marketing at ePharma. Join us February 24-26 in New York, NY.

This piece was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Microsoft Smart Watch to Be Unveiled in Coming Weeks

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The smart watch market is projected to be worth about $7.1 billion in 2015 and it would appear that Microsoft has every intention of being a player in this potentially lucrative space. Forbes is reporting that the company has plans to unveil a wearable device within in the next few weeks capable of tracking a user’s heart rate.  The device will reportedly work across a number of different platforms in addition to Windows phones including iPhone and Android.  

The device appears to be similar to the Moto 360, which also has the capability of monitoring a user’s heart rate, but can supposedly hold a battery charge for over two days with regular use.  This would set it apart from similar devices which require a charge after a single day’s use. 

Microsoft intends to have its new hardware on the shelves within the next few weeks—just in time for the holiday rush.  It was reported earlier this year that the company had plans for this type of device but the exact timeline of its release was unknown. 

This is only the latest move among tech giants in the suddenly competitive space of health data aggregation.  Apple and Google have both received plenty of attention for their plans for health aggregators and wearable devices this year.  In addition, the Apple Watch is expected to become available early 2015.  

As far as wearable devices go, the intrigue certainly appears to be there but adoption remains an issue.  A survey from earlier this year showed that one-third of consumers who purchased a wearable device gave up on using it within six months.  Nonetheless, this showed an increase from the year prior so while that rate remains low, it appears to be trending upward.

Within months, Apple, Mircrosoft and Google will all have health data aggregators and accompanying wearable devices available and the competition for this lucrative market will seemingly be in full swing.

Photograph: USPTO

We’ll have more on the latest in the field of wearable technology at ePharma. Join us February 24-26 in New York, NY.

This piece was contributed by @MikeMadarasz
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Friday, October 17, 2014

ePharma Buzz- 10/17

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It's almost Friday afternoon which means it's time to start checking out mentally. Maybe? Either way, here’s a list of five articles worth a glance from this past week. 

10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015, Richie Etwaru on LinkedIn- Only ten inevitable changes for the pharma industry next year may be a conservative projection but Richie Etwaru (@RichieEtwaru) has outlined some of the most important.  He reviews some of the changing vernacular in the industry such as the transition from “care” to “cure”.  One that we thought was spot on: The change from “customer” to “consumer”.  With the physician being the customer and the patient being the consumer, the pressure is now on pharma to increasingly focus on the former rather than the latter.

Developing a Global Digital Strategy, Gail Horwood- Johnson & Johnson’s VP of Digital Strategy believes “digital brings opportunities to streamline and leverage certain capabilities that are really common across [all] businesses.”  Included in those opportunities is real-time marketing, and included in that category is social media.  J&J took advantage of this during this past World Cup by building a campaign around Listerine.  The company built two newsrooms and responded to developments in matches in real-time with appropriate brand messages.  The biggest takeaway from their success was that real-time marketing is as much about pre-planning as it is anything else. 

This Startup's Robots Could Stop Ebola in Its Tracks, Inc.- Could a robot potentially disinfect an entire room?  It might not be as crazy as it sounds.  Xenex’s new “virus-zapping” robot can effectively stop the spread of disease by using ultraviolet light to disinfect contaminated spaces.  This technology has gotten even more attention following the first Ebola death in the US last week.  "It looks like a car wash for beds. But it's a light wash," explained Xenex CEO Morris Miller.  

mHealth: The Most Underutilized Force in Patient Engagement?, HIT Consultant- [Insert staggering mobile phone usage stat here].  The question everyone is searching for the answer to: How can we better leverage that usage in healthcare?  James Dias lists five steps for healthcare organizations to get started.  Start with getting the patient’s number which is often more difficult than it sounds.  Make it a required field on registration forms.

Cigna Launches Gamified Digital Health Coaching, FierceHealthPayer- Cigna is aiming to improve consumer adoption of their diet and exercise apps through their new gamification effort, Cigna Health Matter.  After enrolling in a program, members can begin interacting with a digital health assessment that incorporates metrics such as BMI, cholesterol and blood pressure.  Users are scored based on these variables and in turn can earn rewards for completing activities and reaching certain milestones.  “During the past several years, we've learned the importance of connecting health improvement to tangible, immediate, recognition and incentives," said Eric Herbek, VP of Product Development.  

Save the date! ePharma will take place February 24-26 in New York, NY.

This piece was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

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