Monday, March 30, 2009

FBI dips Its toe in the e-pharma pool

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In an effort to combat the prevalence of unlicensed pharmacies, the FBI has released a PSA that will help consumers to understand what constitutes a good online pharmacy. According to Behind Online Pharma:

The most useful aspect of the FBI’s PSA is the how-to approach for buying legit drugs.

Legitimate pharmacies:
• Require a prescription from a licensed doctor, usually by mail (if they accept a fax copy, they will always call your doctor to verify the prescription)
• Make you submit a detailed medical history
• Clearly state their payment, privacy, and shipping fees on their sites; and
• Use secure or encrypted website connections for transactions.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Roadbumps presented by digital health records

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The New York Times published an article yesterday about some of the roadblocks that could get in the way of adopting digital health records. A few studies that were published today state that fewer hospitals are actually using digital records, the grand total across the nation is 9%. This did not account for those who are using the electronic health records effectively. The article also points out that the current software being used by these hospitals is out of date.

The article suggests that software could become open source, and that innovators could modify it as to how each doctor and office will use it. It could also drive competition, flexibility and lower costs in the digital health realm. What do you think? Is open-source software one way to make digital health records more widely used? Do you have any other suggestions?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Six Steps to Safe Online Engagement

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There is no doubt that there is huge potential in social media when it is used for online marketing. Even though this is established, there is still much confusion as how to effectively communicate in communities. This post on gives us 6 steps on how to effectively integrate social media into a marketing plan. Here they are:
  1. Track your brand
  2. Know a patient opinion leader
  3. Support a social network
  4. hang with physicians
  5. Use video
  6. Go mobile
Visit the PharmExec site for full article.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Medical phone applications available to everyone

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In a new article at the Health Populi, they look at what medical mobile phone applications are doing for populations around the world. Texting is an important communication medium, that every generation uses, it also spans all socio-economic brackets. The iPhone also reaches out to its users with their Apps. What benefits have you seen come from being able to communicate with patients via this new medium? What do you see coming from this in the future?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Big Pharma eyes rural India for growth

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Tracy Staton of, reports on how several multinational pharma companies are targeting the subcontinent's countryside for expansion, local media reports. Companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Laboratories, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Novartis are eying the country's large rural areas as the opprortunity for more growth abounds. According to, rural customers will account for some 20 percent of the Indian pharma market by 2015--it's 17 percent now--and the overall market is expected to grow to $20 billion from $8.1 billion over the same time period.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ask the Pharma Experts

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I came across this post on which highlighted how Med Ad News has launched a new forum based service called Ask the Experts in which the audience will be invited to post questions and designated experts will provide reliable and timely comments.
Some of the issues discussed in the forum-based application are:
  • Compliance
  • Digital Marketing
  • Direct-to-Consumer Marketing
  • Multicultural Marketing
  • Patient Education & Communication
  • PhRMA Code
  • Product Launch
  • Sales-Force Effectiveness
What are some other useful pharma forums that you’ve come across?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Health records digitzed: Your opinons

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Recently on LinkedIn, I asked what the community thought of the digitization of health records, and what that would do to the privacy of patients. A number of members gave their opinions:

David Levy

Digitization of any kind of record poses a threat simply because of the ease of transferring bits instead of atoms.

When it comes to health records, I think that it will not matter as much as it will during the first few years. During the first few years the majority of the big stories will be about how the information is available for the positive (reduced medical errors, drug contraindications) and a bunch of scare stories ("Your information available to everyone, more at 11").

The reality is with the exception of extortion and illegal discrimination, there is not much of a downside to be learned from the release of digital health records. Most health information is already available within the health care industry and if you lie about it the person who has the liability is you.

Brain D. McCarthy of TipMedia thought:

Its the wave of the future. The world will be online, digitized and accessible. What it really comes down to is if someone wants your health records, your credit card numbers, your social security number or just about anything else with the means to gain access to this data, they will.

A Viper car alarm did not keep hundreds of thousands of cars from being stolen even though the car warned you not to break into it.

As access increases, so will fraud. With this fraud, new business opportunities will arise (how about ID Vault for example). Keep an open mind about it and protect your personal information (birth date, home address, mothers maiden name, canceled checks, etc). With just a little data, it seems folks are now able to steal your identity and go on that shopping binge they have been postponing.

And Alex Dillis believes:
Coming from the pharma industry, specifically clinical research, I believe that digitization of health records should go hand in hand with the mandate (regulation perhaps) that is similar to 21 CFR Part 11, Electronic Records, Electronic Signatures. Strict controls associated with the electronic system security and access, usage of electronic signatures, and data transmission (i.e. open vs. closed systems) must be implemented to ensure that the private health information is protected, is not intentionally or inadvertently transmitted to unauthorized individuals, and not being misused. HIPPA is a good start as a predicate rule.

Do you a have anything to add to these responses?

A podcast with the FDA on Web 2.0

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Over at the Eye on FDA blog, Mark Senak has a new podcast that he recorded with Dr. Jean Ah Kang, Special Assistant to Tom Abrams at DDMAC in charge of Web 2.0 policy development. He discusses the state of FDA, Pharma, and web 2.0. Among other things they discuss the FDA's view of social media and the use of it in the Pharma industry. Listen to the podcast here.

Community 2.0 Meetup in NYC on April 16!

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Community 2.0 East Coast Meet-up
Thursday, April 16, 2009
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

We'd like to invite you to our first Community 2.0 event of the season! On Thursday, April 16, we're hosting a free meet-up in New York City. Bring a friend and join us in midtown for the opportunity to network with your social media peers and meet the Community 2.0 team.

Legends New York
6 W 33rd Street (at 5th Avenue)
New York, NY 10079

This is free! You do not have to be registered for the C2.0 event to attend. It is an opportunity to meet and network with other social media peers in the New York area. Bring your friends and colleagues. There will be happy hour specials from 5-7. See you there!

RSVP Here:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ePharma Summit 2010 date and location announced

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ePharma Summit 2010 will be taking place February 8-10, 2010 at Hyatt Regency Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, PA. We look forward to seeing you next year!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Walmart will offer low cost alternative to adopting electronic health records

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The New York Times is reporting that WalMart will begin selling a low-cost alternative to enable small medical offices to start using electronic health records. They'll have Sams Club begin to work with Dell and eClinical Works, to provide hardware, software instillation, maintenance, and training.

Marcus Osborne, senior director for health care business development at Wal-Mart, had this to say about their new offer:
“We’re a high-volume, low-cost company. And I would argue that mentality is sorely lacking in the health care industry.”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Research 2.0: How drug companies are using social networks to recruit patients for clinical research.

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Pharmaceutical companies are utilizing social networks at an increasing rate. In Sarah Kliff's article on, she covers just one of According to Ms. Kliff, Inspire's nearly 100,000 users aren't just sharing with each other (and the 62 nonprofits who partner with the site), they're also receiving targeted information from pharmaceutical companies who use the site as a recruiting tool for drug studies. Opening this door between patients and drugmakers has some obvious benefits but also raises a host of ethical and medical dilemmas. Kliff goes on to describe this phenomenon as a Pharma Facebook, of sorts. According to Kliff's research, three of the four pharmaceuticals working with Inspire declined to discuss their interest in social networks, or even reveal their names. The fourth, Merck, declined multiple requests for an interview but did issue a brief statement on their commitment to "rapid and effective enrollment of appropriate patients into trials" as to allow for "timely development of innovative medicines."

Do you think that this is a great way for the Pharma to work within the social space?

Alternatively, do you think that this sort of social network is too risky for Pharma?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A New Low in Drug Research: 21 Fabricated Studies

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According to, Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., has asked several anesthesiology journals to retract the studies, which appeared between 1996 and 2008, the WSJ reports. The hospital says its former chief of acute pain, Scott S. Reuben, faked data used in the studies.

Some of the studies reported favorable results from use of Pfizer’s Bextra and Merck’s Vioxx, both painkillers that have since been pulled from the market. Others offered good news about Pfizer’s pain drugs Lyrica Celebrex and Wyeth’s antidepressant Effexor XR. Doctors said Reuben’s work was particularly influential in pain treatment and that they were shocked by the news.

Read more on the's health blog.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Merck & Co. to buy Schering-Plough

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According to, Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc today said it will buy rival Schering-Plough for $41.1 billion in cash and shares to expand its presence in emerging markets and bolster its pipeline of potential new medicines. The two companies, which announced significant job cuts last fall, already are partners on the cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin. But sales of the drugs fell more than 20% in the fourth quarter on concerns about their effectiveness. What do you think of Merck & Co.'s purchase?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rating doctors online: How do you feel?

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In a recent article at ABC News, they discuss the lengths doctors are going to get patients to stop posting doctor ratings online. At sites like and Rate MDs, occasionally poor reviews pop up about doctors. Doctors have gone as far as to have patients sign wavers stating that they will post nothing online about their experience at the doctor. Medical Justice is a company that provides documentation for these doctors to get signatures from their patients.

Some doctors have even go as far as to ask the site moderators to take down the negative comments, and many have refused. So what's your opinion about this? Just like restaurants, some doctors don't provide the best service. Shouldn't consumers be allowed to know what their experience will be before they walk through the doors of a clinic? Do you believe doctors or patients are right in this situation?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

eDetailing and Pharma

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Sujay of Online Marketing Guru explains in his recent post why eDetailing is so important for the Pharma industry. He contends that by focusing on eDetailing, Pharma can be better prepared as physicians using technological aids increases dramatically in the future. Sujay thinks that this will be driven by advanced eMarketing techniques such as social networks, a rise in online physician time, and a reduction in physician availability for face-to-face interaction with sales reps, and changing marketing budgets and strategies.
Read his thoughts in their entirety as his post, here.

What do you think? Should Pharma place more emphasis on eDetailing?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

U.S. Adults With Diabetes Take Control of Care Through Innovative Use of Digital Resources

Pin It Now!, reports that an increasing number of adults with diabetes are using digital resources to educate themselves and manage their care. According to the article, more so than other therapeutic categories, diabetes patients have an extremely active blog community. Celebrity diabetes patients have also gotten involved in the online mix - singer Nick Jonas teamed up with Bayer Healthcare to launch, a diabetes awareness site featuring a blog, online videos, and links to songs from The Jonas Brothers. What theories do you have about this community and their willingness to explore the online space?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Online social networks cause problems for doctors?

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The Kevin MD blog recently posted about the possible problem of social networks putting certain doctors at risk. Behind the walls of the online community, they may discuss patient management. Could listening to other doctors in an online community situation turn into a liability risk? What do you think?