Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pfizer Top Pharma Social Brand

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According to, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis have the highest "social share of voice" among pharmaceutical companies, according to a ranking by social advertising company ViTrue. Pharmaceutical companies have been reluctant to embrace social media for fear of running afoul of FDA regulations that govern the advertising and promotion of prescription drugs. No pharma companies or drug brands made ViTrue's top 100 list last year.

As social branding becomes more popular and more acceptable, how will the Pharma companies change their use of the avenue connect with consumers?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Online search and Pharma companies

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The FDA has recently changed the policies on search engine marketing. Companies can only buy sponsored search terms if they can contain a fair and balanced claim. Bill Drummy, the CEO of Heartbeat Digital, states that this may actually be a positive thing. Click-through rates are actually higher when addressing a cause or symptom as opposed to addressing the drug directly. For more, read the Q&A here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Three More Big Pharma Mergers?

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According to FiercePharma, it may be time for three more big Pharma mergers within the year. The industry, which has gone through huge changes just in the early part of this year may be in for a lot more thanks to possible mergers between Pfizer/Wyeth, Roche/Genentech, and Merck/Schering-Plough. The pebble of truth about these mergers comes from a recent report by Steve Seget of Urch Publishing. Is this just hearsay or do you think that these, if not a few may actually happen within the year? What will happen with the online presence of these companies if they merge?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mayo Clinic Launches Health Manager

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John Sharp recently posted in his eHealth blog that Mayo Clinic has launched a new Personal Health Record, Health Manager. With the health manager, users will be able to get interactive and personal guidance from Mayo Clinic experts, and they'll be able to organize their family's health information all in once place. This site will be interesting to watch as more and more companies are making the switch to providing online medical records and consultations.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

MiVitals set to close

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According to the Washington Post, MiVitals will be closing mid-May due to lack of funding. The Washington Post points out that they didn't have any partnerships with pharmacies, medical professionals or institutions, which seems to be the key with other electronic health providers such as GoogleHealth, WebMD and Aetna's SmartSource. Read the full article here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pharma Deals Exploding in 2009

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According to, pharma deals in the first quarter of 2009 were worth nearly 50% more than all the industry deals announced in 2008, according to a new report.

The report, from The Mergermarket Group of New York and London, says deals in the quarter carried a combined value of $166 billion -- more than 10 times that of deals announced in last year's first quarter and well over the $114 billion in deals announced in all of 2008. Roche bought the 44% of Genentech (DNA Quote) it didn't already own for $47 billion. Pfizer (PFE Quote) is buying Wyeth for $64 billion and Merck (MRK Quote) is buying Schering-Plough (SGP Quote) for $43 billion.

The deals seem evidence that despite the downturn big pharma still boasts the big cash flow to make major moves. In the case of Merck, the reason for the Schering-Plough merger was clear: There is simply no projected earnings growth for Merck by analysts over the next few years thanks to patent expirations and a dearth of pipeline drugs, Brian Gilmartin said in a recent note to investors on

With this boom in mergers for 2009, what will Pharma do with the online sphere? At ePharma we discussed how drug companies may look more into social networking to educate consumers on care of their particular disease. But with Pharma companies growing larger and larger will their online presence get bigger or dwindle under the pressure of their expansive drug offerings?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Are Physician's Doing Enough?

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Jay Parkinson highlights on his recent post in The Health Care Blog that due to a physicians' hectic schedule, doctors on average spend only one hour a year with a patient, and the patient manager their own health for the rest of the year. There are already applications available for doctors and team members to share information internally like Basecamp and Action Method, but wouldn't it be interesting to have the same type of platform between patients and physicians?

Friday, April 17, 2009

New online health program in Georgia

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American City & County recently wrote an article about how the CDC is using an online screening system with other items to help Georgia residents in eight counties to prevent heart disease. The CDC has posted a web page that allows users to identify current life habits that may be factors that could cause the disease. Along with that aspect, they're taking a holistic approach by combining onsite biomedical screenings and resources that are delivered to the work place with the online survey.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

TONIGHT: Community 2.0 NYC Meet-up!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Legends New York
6 W 33rd Street (at 5th Avenue)
New York, NY 10079

This is free! 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:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pfizer has the Highest Social Share of Voice

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Mark Walsh recently posted at MediaPost that Pfizer has been ranked the top pharma social brand according to the social advertising company ViTrue. ViTrue calculates their rankings by applying algorithms to conversations across social media platforms like blogs, social networks, video and photo sharing sites, forums, and Twitter.

Other pharma companies were ranked in the top 100 were Johnson & Johnson and Novartis. Even though all three companies made the list, they are still light years away to more social brands like Disney and Coke. There is no question that the fear of social media in pharma is caused by the lack of explicit guidelines by the FDA. Once specific guidelines are set in stone, social media should erupt in pharma companies.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bringing house calls to the web

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At Modern Physician, they cover Dr. Michael Steinberg's new way of returning to the relationship between a patient and their doctor. He's started the webiste, with the goal of providing consumers with calm, reassuring videos about different conditions. The first website he's created is Insomnia 123.

Do you think that online video channels are a way to create a relationship between patients and doctors?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hospitals on Twitter, Facebook or Youtube: What about Europe?

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According to ScienceRoll, there are now more hospital twitter accounts than YouTube accounts thanks to the efforts of Ed Bennett. Now they want this effort to expand to Europe. Will it work?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

2009 Survey of Health Care Consumers out

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I recently found the 2009 Survey of Health Care Consumers which may be pointing towards health care consumers looking to electronic health records and online access to medical care as a future part of their medical care.

Some of the key findings:
  • 42 percent want access to an online personal health record connected to their doctor’s office
  • 65 percent of consumers are interested in home monitoring devices that enable them to check their condition and send the results to their doctor
The summary can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

FDA cracks down on search-engine ads

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According to, fourteen companies, including Biogen Idec, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche received warning letters from the FDA about "sponsored links" within Google's search engine. The links go to the advertised drug's website where plenty of information is available. The big issue was that the FDA didn't like that Biogen's Tysabri search engine ads--e.g., "A Multiple Sclerosis Treatment That's Different from the Others"--didn't mention the drug's connection to the potentially fatal brain infection PML. And FDA thinks Sanofi's search links "misleadingly suggest Plavix is safer than has been demonstrated." So what will Pharma do to promote their websites and drug education while also providing enough information for the public.

We'd like to hear your thoughts here or on Twitter.

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Social Media Readiness"

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According to Pharma Marketing Blog, their "Social Media Pharma Marketing Readiness Self-Assessment" survey has been hosted by Pharma Marketing News since December 2007 and to-date about 390 people from pharmaceutical companies, pharma vendor companies and other interested parties have taken the survey and compared their scores with the average score.

The survey asks respondents several questions to gauge readiness in 3 categories:

  • Regulatory Environment of respondents company
  • Their company's Corporate Culture viz-a-viz comfort with social media
  • Respondent's personal Knowledge & Opinion of Social Media
As our ePharma blog looks at e-marketing, we're interested to see how many of our regular readers have taken a social media readiness survey. How would you rate your organization, or yourself, on the above mentioned factors? Check out the orginial post here.

Usage of Twitter for Physicians

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John Sharp highlights a couple of ways that Twitter can be used amongst hospitals and physicians in his latest post at eHealth. One thing for sure is that twitter should not be used in medical practice because of violation of privacy issues and because emergencies should be responded to in different ways. Twitter though does serve as a great communication tool between the hospital office. It can work similar to how pagers have been used up to this point. One way to manage updates is to give only a certain number of people access to the account, this minimizing useless updates. What are some other ways twitter can be used in the hospital setting?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Online health questions answered

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At Helia, they're answering direct questions from their audience. In their online communities section, users questions are answered directly by medical students. This is a result of the new partnerships between the site and the American Medical Student Association. The article points out that this is a way for tomorrow's doctors to get acquainted with Health 2.0 today. What do you think about this?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

FDA and Social Media

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This post on OnlineMediaDaily shows us another reason why big pharma has been reluctant to join the social media frenzy, fear of FDA regulations. While the Food & Drug Administration hasn't addressed any regulations on advertising on social media, there is still a fear that the FDA might not approve of the "message" being presented.

Dr. Jean Ah Kang, special assistant to Tom Abrams at the FDA's Division for Drug Marketing, even mentions that, "we do recognize the importance of social media, like Web 2.0, and we recognize that it is reality and it is here to stay." So it's obvious that there is potential for growth, but pharma will have to make it presents labeling information prominently and accurately and communicate all material risks in different social media platforms.