Friday, October 30, 2015

ePharma News: Walgreens to Acquire Ride Aid; Novartis To Pay $390 mln in settlement and more

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Walgreens Logo
One of the biggest news of this week is the finalizing the terms of  the acquisition deal between the two pharma giants - Walgreens and Ride Aid. As The New York Times reported, Stefano Pessina, the CEO, and the single largest shareholder of Walgreens Boots Alliance, has announced that "consolidation is close to an end” in the United States.

The problem that Mr. Pessina will be facing is the antitrust law, and the FTC regulators looking closely into the acquisition to make sure, the pharma giant is providing grounds for a fair competition. To fulfill the latter, Stefano Pessina might have to scale down on the number of stores in certain areas especially in the Northeast. And while the total number of the store locations for Walgreens to "lose"is unknown, the figure that was reported by the Boston Globe is 400. The merger deal between Walgreens Boots Alliance and Ride Aid will gain Walgreens 12,700 locations.

Another case of big pharmaceutical companies being caught making "deals with doctors" has involved Novartis. Bloomberg Business just reported, that the pharma giant Novartis has just agreed to pay $390 million dollars to settle the $3.35 billion dollars suit based on the claims made by one of the former Novartis sales manager. The pharmaceutical giant manufacturer was accused of pushing sales of its products in many specialty pharmacies in the U.S. by offering kickbacks to the pharmacies in the form of rebates. This is not the first time Novartis has to pay to settle a claim in court. According to Reuters, back in 2010 Novartis had to pay $422 million dollars.

Apple Watch with its health applicationsIBM and Apple create a partnership involving the IBM software and Apple Watch device as carrier. IBM Watson is adaptive artificial intelligence powered by IBM will be installed in Apple Watch to provide the next level of personalized health tech in the face of an app called CafeWell Concierge. WellTok, a Denver-based health management start-up behind the CafeWell Concierge application promises the app's ability to adapt to an individual user by learning about his interests and health status, and to bring up recommendations to optimize the user's health. The mission of the CafeWell Concierge app is to influence a positive behavioral change in the way people manage their health.


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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 atknewton@iirusa.com or on Twitter at @Ksenia_Newton.

Friday, October 23, 2015

ePharma News: Google Glass aims to treat Autism, and more!

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Hi and Welcome to our Weekly Pharma Marketing News Roundup!



A young woman is wearing a Google Glass device
This week again Google is surfacing on the digital health landscape with yet another way of using one of its products. TechCruch has reported that one of Google's products - Google Glass is being tested in a lab as a potential treatment for kids with Autism syndrome. According to the article, the scientists from Stanford University are conducting clinical trials with the device based on the emotion recognition app that was built for Google Glass earlier this year. This software is capable of reading and translating facial emotions in real time, the function that Stanford researchers are hoping to use to help children with Autism to interpret people's emotions and make the interactions with their surrounding easier.

Another New York-based startup is aiming to reshape the way healthcare works. Oscar start-up is a website and an app that promises to simplify the process of looking for the right doctor and make it lighter on the patient's pocket. The idea behind is a user can type up his or her symptoms and get a few suggestions on what it might be. Then, the user can look up a specialist in the area and get an approximate cost of his treatment. The app also offers a few other options such as reviews, and a free MisFit step tracker, through using which the users get rewards in Amazon gift cards if they hit the daily exercise goals. The Oscar start-up team themselves stated that their mission is "to reinvent how care is delivered. The goal is to have the happiest members paying the lowest costs for the healthiest outcomes."

Rock Health, a digital health accelerator, has recently conducted a survey among internet-connected adults in the US. The Digital Health Consumer Survey that involved 4000 respondents, has identified six major areas of digital health use: search online for health information, comparing results of the search online, tracking health with mobile apps, health wearable device, telemedicine, and usage of consumer-facing genetic services. The goal of the researchers was to indicate current trends in digital health industry and to uncover the attitudes of users toward the aspect that comes along with using internet for health information, such as data privacy. Here are some of the stats reported by the survey results:
• 71% of respondents search online for health information;
• 60% of the respondents searched the internet on information about the prescription drugs and its side effects, and 35% of the 60% survey participants asked their PC physicians to prescribe the drugs they thought were the most relevant to them. See the rest of the survey results here.


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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 knewton@iirusa.com or on Twitter at @Ksenia_Newton.

Friday, October 16, 2015

ePharma news: Healthcare is becoming very desirable for the top creative experts!

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Klick: Healthcare industry attracts more and more top list creatives
Marketing jobs in healthcare attract more and more top list creatives from many industries including consumer brands. In the interview to Fierce Pharma Marketing, the chief creative officer of Klick, the digital marketing agency serving healthcare industry, stated, "A-list people are now attracted to healthcare marketing because it's more interesting and cooler than ever before." Today's marketers can create a gamifying experience for consumers by implementing many tools in their creative strategy including 3-D modeling, virtual reality (Oculus Rift) and others. It makes it more desirable for the leading marketing experts to move into healthcare marketing.



The study published by Crain's Detroit Business provides interesting statistics on how millennial population is shaping the way healthcare industry is marketing itself. It stated that if previously it was a one-way communication, where consumers - patients would ask for an advice from their physicians, nowadays consumers go online, and based on their findings make the shopping decisions themselves. Having an access to more information allows consumers to search through brands and compare prices. The shift in a consumers' purchasing decision journey is putting pressure on the pharmaceutical companies to come up with better and more effective marketing strategies to bring awareness about their products and build a loyal customer base in a very competitive healthcare landscape.

Citizen Health Platform of Shenzhen makes Westen medical assistance possible for wealthy local residents.A new trend is emerging on the Chinese healthcare market - medical tourism. Shenzhen, China now service called Citizen Health Platform of Shenzhen. Ran by a local government in partnership with many medical institutions in the U.S. including Mayo Clinic and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the platform targets local residents with disposable income. The idea behind the healthcare platform is to provide alternative opinion on the local patients' medical condition and an opportunity for a treatment using the latest medical technologies abroad.



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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 knewton@iirusa.com or on Twitter at @Ksenia_Newton.

Friday, October 9, 2015

ePharma news: 3-D Technology Saves the Life of a 4-year-old and potentially many lives in the future

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This week Miami doctors were able to successfully perform an open heart surgery on a 4-year-old patient previously believed to be inoperable due to a complicated heart condition. To facilitate the surgery, the surgeons printed a 3-D replica of the young patient's heart and instrumented the steps in the procedure on the 3-D printed model of the organ first. Doing so, the doctors said they were able to plan the surgery in details, which subsequently saved them two hours in the operating room and eliminated any doubts about the specific steps into the surgery that the doctors have previously had. The hope is, in the next 10-15 years 3-D printers will be able to print real organs for transplant surgeries using human cells.

BioDigital maps out human body in its new API 3D modeling startup
Image courtesy of BioDigital at www.biodigital.com
More on 3-D technology: a New York-based startup BioDigital released an API that 3-D models human body. The idea behind is to be able to map every part of human body to learn more in depth about the processes happening inside and use this knowledge toward prediction and prevention of injures and psychosomatic disorders, and to improve and perfect the healthcare. TechCrunch in its article "3-D Modeling Startup BioDigital Launches An API For The Human Body" of Oct. 1, called the BioDigital's initiative "Google Maps for the human body."

More and more pharma companies are looking into social media, and monitoring negative or positive mentions is not the only reason why. People progressively become deeper and deeper involved in social media potentially sharing valuable health insights, which can be used by companies in upgrading the medication experience. Just like that, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has done the social listening part on more than 1000 companies' drugs, and the results exceeded expectations. Besides being able to identify trends among drug users and learn about alternative competitive treatments, GSK touched upon never-seen before area - a purposeful misuse of drugs as narcotics. The GSK researchers came across a few websites, where users were sharing "best practices" of getting high on off-the-counter drugs. These experiments with drugs in a way present a version of the kind of clinical trial that could never see the light in the modern society due to the legal and moral aspects of it. Monitoring and taking
part in such conversations achieves two goals: one, it provides information to the researchers sufficient enough to make the drugs safer to use; two, it gives a way to unobtrusively communicate the risks of misusing the drugs to the community as a preventative measure.

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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 knewton@iirusa.com

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 knewton@iirusa.com