Friday, October 2, 2015

ePharma News: New Hampshire | Pharma Companies Under Fire for Deceptive Marketing yet AGAIN!

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Pharma companies in New Hampshire are under investigation for opioid marketing practices

Several pharmaceutical companies in New Hampshire are under an investigation fire over opioid marketing - deceptive drug marketing practices that fail to warn patients about the side effects that can cause an addiction. As was stated in the press release by the New Hampshire Department of Justice Office of Attorney General, "The growing heroin and opioid crisis is the most pressing public health and safety challenge facing our state, and it stems in part from the overuse, misuse, and abuse of addictive prescription opioids." The Attorney General doesn't exclude the link between the marketing practices of the certain drugmakers and a recent increased usage of heroin in the state of New Hampshire. Through conducting an investigation the Department of Justice of New Hampshire is planning to determine whether the deceptive marketing strategies by the pharmaceutical companies under question have influenced the choices of doctors and patients.

FDA approves the combination Opdivo-Yervoy by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co as melanoma treatmentFor the first time in the U.S. history the combination of two drugs was approved by the FDA. The two drugs, Opdivo and Yervoy by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, in combination, aim to help the immune system fight advanced melanoma. The price for this treatment is said to be as high as $250,000 a year. Tim Turnham, executive director of the nonprofit Melanoma Research Foundation expressed his concerns regarding the costs of the treatment to the Wall Street Journal stating that he is afraid that the cost can become a barrier between patients, and the kind of care they need to obtain to fight cancer. Another down side of using the combination of drugs is the side effects. As was reported, during the Optivo-Yervoy clinical trial the patients experienced stronger unpleasant side effects, which caused the dropout rate of 36% in patients.

Actions of another pharmaceutical company have caused similar to Martin Shkreli's outrage in public. According to Bloomberg BNA, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has received a letter urging the chair person to serve a subpoena to Valeant Pharmaceuticals in response to the rapid increase in prices for the Nitropress and Isuprel drugs, the rights to which the company acquired earlier this year. As voiced in the letter, the prices for the drugs were increased by 212% and 525% respectively the same day of purchase. The petitioners stated, that they "are fed up with drug companies putting profits before people," and that such increase in pricing on these two critical drugs has a negative impact on hospitals and other care providers.

Stay tuned for our weekly news round up!

Subscribe to our Blog or follow us on Twitter: @epharma

About the author: Ksenia Newton, a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Pharma Division, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Call for Speakers: ePharma 2016

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The 2016 ePharma conference – your industries most strategic digital pharma event -- has speaking slots open and we want to hear from YOU. The bar was set high this year, nine out of ten people learned something new at ePharma 2015, and now is your chance to inspire next year's attendees!

ePharma Summit 2016 is scheduled for February 29 – March 2 at the Sheraton Times Square, NYC. 

Moving beyond just digital marketing, ePharma covers business strategy in addition to case studies and tactical best practices. This year we will develop a unique mix of forward looking presentations on new opportunities and out of industry keynote speakers that will help drive the industry into the future.
ePharma continues to be the platform for sparking interesting conversation and providing  inspiration, giving attendees a 360 view on the industry. Our event is known to initiate thought provoking discussions sparking plans and strategies which attendees take back to the office to implement internally in order to grow, differentiate and thrive in today’s exceedingly digital environment. Learn more about the conference here:

Some of the topic categories are (but not limited to):

·         Data & Analytics
·         Mobile Marketing
·         Content Marketing
·         Social Media Marketing Strategies
·         Emails, Getting it Right
·         Patient Empowerment
·         Wearable Technology
·         Virtual Reality
·         Storytelling
·         Using biomarkers
·         Marketing and Medical Automation
·         Data, Security, and Privacy
·         Maximizing EHR Opportunities
·         Customer centric marketing
·         Customer engagement optimization
·         Physician marketing
·         Payer marketing
·         Digital Innovation

Additionally, if you have a different topic that you'd like to share with our audience, please let us know.

But hurry. Time's running out for you to enter your story for consideration. The window closes on Friday, October 23rd.

Email your proposal today to Sakina Hussain at

In your abstract, please provide the following:

·         Proposed Title of Session: Big Picture Topic
·         Challenge – Elaborate the challenge faced
·         Solution & Outcomes – How the challenge was solved and the results
Please note: All proposals are subject to review by the program Advisory Committee to ensure the overall quality of the conference program. Please note that due to limited speaking slots, preference is given to abstracts from those within pharmaceutical and biotech companies, regulators, and those from academic centers.

Additionally, a select number of vendors/consultants who provide products and services to these biopharmaceutical companies are offered opportunities for podium presentation slots based on a variety of Corporate Sponsorships.

Friday, September 25, 2015

This week in ePharma: Martin Shkreli - the new Most Hated Man in Pharma | NHS is under controversy over data security

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Medical data security glitch: The NHS Choices Health Apps remove many apps for their poor encription practices.
Another glitch in the security system could've caused damage by leaking users' data into the hands of perpetrators. After a study conducted by researchers in London, it was revealed that many health apps previously approved by the National Health Services (NHS), a publicly funded healthcare system in England, have, in fact, lacked the security measures to prevent the data from leaking. The health apps were included in the NHS England's Health Apps Library, the public resource of health information. The NHS Choices Health Apps website states as their mission "Safe and trusted apps to help you manage your health" and promises that "reviewed by the NHS" means "to ensure they are clinically safe." As the aftermath of the study, the health apps that were found exercising poor online encryption practices were removed from the library.

Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turing Pharmaceutics, whom AdAge calls the new Most Hated Man in America, has made the headlines overnight by jacking up the price for the drug Pyrimethamine (trade name Daraprim) from $13.5 to $750 per pill just a little over a month after acquiring exclusive rights for the drug.

According to Wikipedia, Daraprim is commonly used as an antimalarial drug as well as in treatment of food-borne infections, (when combined with the sulfonamide antibiotic sulfadiazine) affecting people with weakened immune system (HIV-positive in particularly.) Daraprim is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system.

FDA establishes the Patient Engagement Advisory Committee
FDA creates the first-ever Patient Engagement Advisory Committee. The purpose, as stated on the FDA website is to "provide advice to the Commissioner or designee, on complex issues relating to medical devices, the regulation of devices, and their use by patients." The committee will consist of nine board members who will be advising on establishing better communications and cooperation between drug and med device makers, patients, consumers' interests, and the FDA policy.
Some of the duties of the committee will include: benefits and risks, patient preference study design, medical device labeling, unmet clinical needs, available alternatives, and patient reported outcomes.

Stay tuned for our weekly news round up!

Subscribe to our Blog or follow us on Twitter: @epharma

About the author: Ksenia Newton, a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Pharma Division, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at

Friday, September 18, 2015

This week in ePharma news: A Man Gains a Sense of Touch and Feel in His Robotic Hand | NIMH director to leave for Google Alphabet

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Big news in Life Sciences: Dr, Tom Insel, Director of National Institute of Mental Health is stepping down after 13 years in his position just to ... join the Google Life Sciences team under its new umbrella Alphabet. In our weekly ePharma news roundup of August 28th we talked a little bit about the reorganization that Google is currently undergoing, particularly about the life sciences team becoming its own entity with its own CEO - Andy Conrad, Ph. D.

In terms of the future plans, Dr. Tom Insel himself shared with NIMH, "I am certainly not planning to retire. I am currently working out the final details for a move to the life sciences team at Google (or rather, Alphabet, now!). The Google Life Sciences team is developing new technologies to transform healthcare, such as a contact lens with an embedded glucose monitor. The Google Life Sciences mission is about creating technology that can help with earlier detection, better prevention, and more effective management of serious health conditions. I am joining the team to explore how this mission can be applied to mental illness."  

Robotics and health tech: A man re-gained a sense of feel and touch through his prosthetic hand
A breakthrough surgery has been successfully performed on a young man who according to the Life Science journal, has been paralyzed for more than 10 years because of the spinal cord injury. A team of scientists from DARPA, Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, was able to attach electrodes to the man's brain the way that he gained a sense of touch and feel with his prosthetic hand.
The DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez has labeled this a success and declared, "This work shows the potential for seamless bio-technological restoration of near-natural function.”

Addyi, the "Viagra" for women pill that got approved by the FDA last month after being rejected twice is causing discrepancy between the users. The concerns are raised over the side effects of the drug when used with alcohol. It's known that one female patient died during the clinical trial of the flibanserin (the medical name for Addyi) because of alcohol intoxication. After the investigation the FDA representative concluded, that the role of the drug in the death case was not excluded.

As it was reported by Bloomberg Business, the conflict of interests comes down to weighting out the benefits of the first drug helping female sexual dysfunction against the risk of taking Addyi with alcohol, to measure which the clinical tests were performed almost exclusive on men.

Stay tuned for our weekly news round up!

Subscribe to our Blog or follow us on Twitter: @epharma

About the author: Ksenia Newton, a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Pharma Division, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at

Friday, September 11, 2015

This week in ePharma: The FDA is sued again over off-label marketing | BREAKING: 3D-printed rib cage saves a life

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The FDA is sued by Pacira over the off-label marketing rights.The FDA agency is being sued again over pharmaceutical marketing practices. Looks like the last month's precedent laid a cornerstone in the confrontation between the FDA and drugmakers in which the latter have a much higher chance to win the argument. Using The First Amendment "Freedom of Speech", the drugmaker Pacira Pharmaceuticals Inc. is taking the government agency to court to secure the rights to promote Pacira's pain drug Exparel.

As a reminder, last month the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the First Amendment protection for truthful and non-misleading off-label promotion.

The first patient just got enrolled into the Biogen Phase-III clinical trial for its Alzheimer's disease treatment aducanumab. This is the second time the Alzheimer's / Parkinson's disease cure research is making the news this month. The Phase-III program is planning to study 2,700 patients in the early-stage of Alzheimer's disease. Previously, Biogen's Phase 1b study showed small-scale but positive results in slowing cognitive decline in patients with mild or preexistent Alzheimer's.
A man from Spain got a surgery implanting 3D-printed rib cage and sternum into his body.

The first of its kind surgery involving 3D-printed body parts was performed on a man from Spain. Due to the cancer complications the patient had to have removed a part of his rib cage and a sternum. The surgical team from Salamanca University Hospital in Salamanca, Spainhas ordered a customized 3D-printed titanium implants.  

This is the second breakthrough surgery involving 3D-printed body parts that's revolutionizing modern medicine.
Walgreens Pharmacy talks digital health and telemedicine
In his recent interview with the Health Business Blog, the VP of Digital Health, Walgreens, Adam Pellegrini answered a few questions around Walgreens' involvement with digital health and telemedicine trends.

Specifically, Mr. Pellegrini mentioned the Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices program, an initiative that was recently integrated into the strategy of the company. Through this program customers can collect points for healthy actions and not for purchases. For example, users can get points for walking or quitting smoking.

Another important question that Mr. Pellegrini answered was about the role of a pharmacist in telehealth for Walgreens. Telehealth as defined by Health Resources and Services Administration, "is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration."

In his statement, the VP of Digital Health, Walgreens stated that he hopes telemedicine will enable and extend an area of medication management. It will be used to answer simple questions about medication. And as a good example, Pellegrini brought up the pharmacy's chat adding that they conduct

9,000 - 10,000 health chats weekly with Walgreens' customers. "That's free for everyone. If we can walk inside of a pharmacy and ask a question, we should be able to do this digitally as well," - concluded A. Pellegrini.

Stay tuned for our weekly news round up!

Subscribe to our Blog or follow us on Twitter: @epharma

About the author: Ksenia Newton, a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Pharma Division, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at

Friday, September 4, 2015

This week in ePharma: Google updates health search database | Viagra is Re-branding!

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Google search results for health symptoms search query
Here is another proof that Google is leading the digital health industry:
Yesterday Google made an announcement ("Now Google can help with updated health information") about the updates that the search engine is planning to integrate within the next five weeks as a follow up on the search explosion around the rare form of pneumonia outbreak that happened earlier last month. As part of the change, Google is planning to expand their medical conditions database and make it more accessible by taking a user straight to the conditions tab upon the search is performed. Over the next few weeks it is expected that Google's medical database will grow by almost 45% from 400 conditions to 900.

In the press release of September 2, the FDA announced that it has approved Varubi (rolapitant), the drug to soften the side effects from chemotherapy such as nausea and vomiting. These symptoms are common among patients undergoing chemical therapy. But aside from immediate side effects, Varubi aims to treat the delayed nausea and vomiting symptoms that tend to occur within 120 hours after the chemical treatment has been issued.
Pfizer's "blue pill" Viagra is now available in a single package
This is the second time Viagra is showing up in the news within the past few weeks, but this time Viagra is in a spotlight because of the re-branding efforts that Pfizer is implementing. The "Blue pill" is said to be soon available in a single package, which is supposed to make it more convenient to purchase and carry around. With the mission "A new way to take VIAGRA with you when you need it" the drug maker Pfizer is seizing an opportunity to present Viagra as a more portable and handy solution on the go.

The European Pharmaceutical Review Magazine has reported the results from the survey conducted by The Crown Records Management/Censuswide on data management. After surveying over 200 companies in the pharmaceutical sector, 60% of IT decision makers revealed that their company had lost important data. With the recent scandalous data breach of the Ashley Madison website, more and more key players in the pharma industry express their concerns over secure future of the doctor-patient data.

Stay tuned for our weekly news round up! 

Subscribe to our Blog or follow us on Twitter: @epharma


About the author: Ksenia Newton, a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Pharma Division, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Free Webinar: Connecting Insights to Improve the Customer Experience

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Technology has dramatically improved collaboration between sales and marketing, enabling companies to approach customers in a more consistent and impactful way across digital and personal channels.

Join the upcoming webinar hosted by Veeva entitled, “Connecting Insights to Improve the Customer Experience” to hear Biogen's case study about connecting insights across channels and data sources for more intelligent and personal engagement to fulfill its vision for true closed loop multichannel marketing. Register here:

The presenters for this webinar are Brian Cantwell, Associate Director, Marketing Technology and Paul Shawah Vice President, Product Marketing – Veeva Systems.

Brian Cantwell leads Biogen’s U.S. Marketing Technology team, where he is responsible for building and executing digital marketing capabilities that enable Biogen's U.S. brands to have more effective, efficient and engaging customer interactions through personal and non-personal channels.
Paul is responsible for global product marketing at Veeva Systems where he has held senior leadership roles since 2011. Before Veeva, Paul ran the Life Sciences business unit at SAP with responsibility for product strategy and solutions globally. Prior to SAP, Paul held product marketing leadership roles at Proscape and Siebe.

Space is limited, save your seat!

Want more on this topic? Attend ePharma 2016 taking place February 29-March 2 in NYC. ePharma facilitates the largest digital pharma marketing community to share the latest and greatest trends, marketplace needs, and evolving customer bases to reach our ultimate goal – harness new opportunities to build stronger, cost efficient marketing campaigns. For more information about the conference, visit the website:

The ePharma Team

Friday, August 28, 2015

This week in ePharma: Google Life Sciences joins the Digital Health Race and more!

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Google search logo
Earlier this week Sergey Brin made an official announcement about the Google's life sciences team moving into a separate Life Sciences venture with its own CEO. These changes are a part of the company's recent reorganization. Life Sciences is aiming big at making progress in health tech sphere. Google Smart Contact lenses is currently the most well-known project under Life Sciences.

Digital health app connected to a mobile device, connected to a computer and a virtual doctor. mHealthComputers are to become more humanized. More and more research companies are working their way into reading human emotions and interpreting them digitally. The goal is to use the data to make health wearables more sensitive to an individual user and therefore increase the effectiveness of the devices. Affectiva is one of the companies conducting such research. With the statement "Leading global expert in emotion analytics and insights" Affective claims to have analyzed 2,756,949 faces to date.

Bayer Healthcare logo
Digital health accelerator program? Sure. Two words: Germany, Bayer. “Grants4Apps Accelerator” program funded by Bayer Healthcare will sponsor five digital health startups who focus their research around such topics as predicting behavior, improve health in the work place, patient empowerment and others. The five health tech companies for Grants4Apps Accelerator 2015 have already been chosen. Within the given 100 days the Bayer Healthcare program guarantees to provide mentorship by Bayer's experts, office space,  and funding of 50,000€.

Another health tech accelerator program is launching, this time locally, in Pittsburgh. A large nonprofit health and wellness company Highmark Health has built VITAL - a program that aims to speed up an approval process for healthcare innovators. The VITAL innovation program promises to simplify the whole procedure from submitting a proposal to its evaluation and funding, and therefore make new technologies available to consumers faster.

Stay tuned for our weekly news round up! 

Subscribe to our Blog or follow us on Twitter: @epharma


About the author: Ksenia Newton, a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Pharma Division, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at

Friday, August 21, 2015

ePharma news: This August - The Ice Bucket Challenge is back | "Viagra" for women is about to hit the market and more

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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is back with the hashtag #EveryAugustUntilACure
Do you remember the Ice Bucket Challenge that took over the world last year? A brilliant campaign that was initiated by ALS Association in hopes to raise money for the Lou Gehrig's disease research, went viral not just in the U.S. but globally as well. By the end of 2014 the ALS Association was able to raise $115 million dollars. This August the Ice Bucket Challenge is back, and the funds collected last year are partially allocated toward the Lou Gehrig's disease research project conducted by Biogen Inc. and the Columbia University Medical Center. Earlier this year Biogen announced a $30-million-dollars funding that the company has committed to (plus, $3.5 million dollars raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge promotion.) The project is said to monitor 1,500 patients with the disease through clinical trial in efforts to find the cure.

Addyi is a "female version" of the Viagra pill produced by Sprout Pharmaceuticals
A "female version" of Viagra has just been approved by the FDA. Addyi is the first of its kind drug aiming at treatment of sexual desire disorders (HSDD) in both genders. HSDD stands for hypoactive sexual desire disorder, and as stated on the FDA official page: "HSDD is characterized by low sexual desire that causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty and is not due to a co-existing medical or psychiatric condition, problems within the relationship, or the effects of a medication or other drug substance. HSDD is acquired when it develops in a patient who previously had no problems with sexual desire." It's noteworthy that the drug manufacturer Sprout Pharmaceuticals has been previously turned down twice, because the benefits of Addyi were said to be outweighed by the side effects and the risks caused by taking the drug. The Addyi drug has been approved with a strong warning against taking it with alcohol and other drugs because of its potentially toxic effect on the organism, and it will only be available through certified medical professionals. 

This week Kite Pharma is on a news but unfortunately not for a break through research but because of one of the patient's death while in a blood cancer clinical trial. The LA Times reported, that during the conference call the Kite Pharma CEO Arie S. Belldegrun stated, "A clinical investigator of the study conducted an in-depth review of the death and concluded that this death was unrelated to our product."
Following the investigation the FDA allowed the Kita Pharma company to continue with clinical trials.

Bionic wearable-technology earbuds Here Active Listening from Dobbler Labs
Image courtesy:
Earbuds that will turn down the noise volume around you including the sound of crying babies? - Yes, please! A wearable-technology startup Doppler Labs has invented a wireless earbuds device that aims at increasing and adjusting your hearing depending on your personal comfort level. With the mission "Change the Way We Hear the World" and the price tag of $199, Here Active Listening is targeting audiophiles first. The company has posted a testimony-video by Hans Zimmer, a world-famous Grammy-winning composer, who in his support to the Here Active Listening gadget stated, "The way we find our place in the world is through touch, eyes, and hugely - through ears. You want to be able to select what you hear. It's about having control of your life."

Stay tuned for our weekly news round up! 

Subscribe to our Blog or follow us on Twitter: @epharma


About the author: Ksenia Newton, a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Pharma Division, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at

Friday, August 14, 2015

This week in ePharma: FDA issues a warning to K. Kardashian's promoted morning-sickness drug

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FDA issues a warning to Diclegis, the morning-sickness drug promoted by Kim Kardashian
In the week of July 24th it was announced that Diclegis has partnered with Kim Kardashian in promotional efforts of the new morning-sickness drug. This week the FDA has issued a warning over K. Kardashian's drug promotion on social media. In particular, it was stated that there was a violation of the federal drug-promotion rules. The reality star has never mentioned any side effects in her testimonial statement favoring the drug on Instagram. On August 7th the FDA has posted a warning letter addressing the drug's and Kardashian's promotional efforts as misleading and indicating that the social post was submitted as a complaint to the OPDP Bad Ad Program, the program that was designed to monitor and supervise the truthfulness of the prescription drug advertising and promotional efforts.

Roche Pharma Research & Early Development has developed a smartphone app to continuously monitor changes in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The hopes are the app will be able to collect data that can significantly improve medicine development program in Parkinson’s disease. Currently the app is in Phase I trial run with the the help of Prothena, a late-stage clinical biotechnology company that focuses on discovery, development and commercialization of programs with aim of potential treatment of diseases.

With the team of researchers from Oxford, Cambridge and London with backgrounds in medicine, behavioral health, bioengineering, design, and software the startup Hinge Health has set a goal to improve the lower back pain for many employees who spend most of the day at their desks, and help their employers reduce absenteeism and health costs. Hinge Health has produced a program that consists of physiotherapy, personalized coaching, weight loss, ability to tracking progress, and peer support opportunity. The program is a package that includes sensor bands, a tablet computer with software, and a number of other accessories. Based in London, the Hinge Health startup is currently aiming at the US market.

FDA has lost a battle for off-label marketing if the claims are truthful.
On August 7th the federal judge of the Federal District Court in Manhattan Paul A. Engelmayer has ruled that off-label marketing can be done legally even if the FDA has not approved for as long as the claims are truthful based on the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech.) This precedent sets the history, because in the past many companies have lost this fight in court and ended up paying large settlements.

Here you can read How to Recognize and Report Off-Label Pharmaceutical Marketing.

Stay tuned for our weekly news round up! 

Subscribe to our Blog or follow us on Twitter: @epharma


About the author: Ksenia Newton, a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Pharma Division, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at