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Archive for September, 2008

From the CEO: Deer Mr. Woodruff…

On behalf of the Boonton/Boonton Township herd of wandering whitetails (the “Rampaging Ruminants”), I’d like to personally thank you for your donation of land and foodstuffs during this past season.

After a winter of the typical boring forest fare, my companions and I found your yard and its carefully cultivated hors d’oeuvres to be particularly engaging. A night-time stroll through your delightful property revealed such delicacies as tender shoot of tiger lily, sweet dogwood greens, fresh cucumber stem…not to mention an array of perennial flower buds too numerous to list on this brief note of thanks.

Your kindness to me and my companions has not gone unnoticed. In fact, we left deposits of our thanks in a multitude of places throughout the yard, where you’d be sure to notice. Hopefully, these symbols of gratitude warmed your heart, and have made you even more determined to set a bounteous abundance before us for the upcoming 2009 foraging season.

I studiously instructed my young ones not to forget that your property is THE place to come for midnight snacks, and they have assured me that the word has been spread to all their four-legged friends. How grateful we are for homeowners like you, who look out for our interests every season, and who are stringently outlawed (may I simply remind you) by local ordinance from using those dangerous “firesticks” of yours to turn us from strolling minstrels of appetite into appetizing venison steaks.

In closing, as we now turn our white tails toward more distant fields for the cooler season, having assisted you with keeping your many plants “under control” for yet another year, may I give you one more tangible expression of my thanks by leaving a final love offering in a pile right next to the gazebo there. For all that you’ve given me, it’s the least I can do to give something back.

Sincerely,

Bambino Bucksnort
Chief Eating Officer

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I’m a big advocate (and regular user) of what is commonly called “social media” – tools that enable people to publish, connect, and interact on-line. Inevitably, social media is evolving into strategies for marketing, PR, and training – although very slowly for our highly-regulated pharma industry.

Next month, I’ll be attending a conference exploring the use of Digital Media in pharma (Princeton, NJ, Oct 14-16).

This week, I saw a press release by a company that is moving in the inevitable direction of joining social media tools to a Learning Management System in a new platform they’re calling LearnSocial. We’ll see more stuff like this in coming months.

There’s also been a bit of noise about the 3-D platform called Second Life. SL has some cool factor, but I’m skeptical about its utility for training (in its current level of evolution). I do see one place where a Second Life application could be very useful, however – an orientation tool for pharma sales new hires. Think about how cool it would be to have a virtual world for new hires to explore during Home Study, where they could be oriented to the company and its culture, while “meeting” trainers and other new hires on-line before coming in for residency training. This would be a great way to spice up on-boarding!

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The Sales Force Shuffle, from Pharmaceutical Executive – The last week the pharma atmosphere was abuzz with news about sales force cuts, outsourcing, and overhauls. First, Schering-Plough announced that it had eliminated the 1,000 sales positions it said it would trim in April. This is being done as part of a new sales model called—internally—a productivity transformation program (PTP). The new model, to go into effect next month, will streamline the sales force to take a more customer-centric approach, including targeted and relevant physician calls and a relationship management–oriented business model…more

Alpharma to King: No. – In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Alpharma calls the $37-a-share offer was inadequate and continues to explore all strategic alternatives, including a possible sale to King or another party for a higher price…more

Lilly CEO to Boston: you’re scaring us away – The ink is barely dry on a new law governing how drugmakers can market to docs, but Lilly’s John Lechleiter isn’t wasting time trying to make lawmakers regret their decision. In remarks to the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Executive Forum, he claims the law will hamper innovation and force companies to reconsider expanding in Massachusetts, The Boston Business Journal reports…more

B-I goes to the shrink – The drugmaker has ended a contract with InVentiv, one of the players in the Rent-A-Rep business, which was promoting its troubled Micardis, an angiotensin receptor blocker, otherwise known as a blood pressure med…more

The needle or the drug? – Acupuncture works as well as Wyeth’s antidepressant to fight hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms caused by breast cancer treatment, and its benefits last longer without causing unwanted side effects, according to new research…more

Pfizer’s Pfuture – The big drugmaker is dramatically stepping up sales efforts in emerging markets, overhauling US business operations and slashing more costs ahead of the 2011 patent loss for cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor, the Associated Press informs us…more Plus, going after emerging markets for growth

Paxil damages sperm? – A group of 35 healthy men who were given Paxil over a five-week period had higher levels of sperm with damaged DNA, according to a report..more

Medicis to re-state numbers; stock plunges.

Tarceva linked to liver damage - Genentech Inc and OSI Pharmaceuticals have alerted doctors about cases of liver damage among patients who took the cancer drug Tarceva in a post-approval study, U.S. regulators said on Tuesday…more

Takeda goes for diabetes combo – Takeda Pharmaceutical Co said on Wednesday it had applied for approval to market in the United States the SYR-322 and the Actos diabetes drugs in a single tablet for the treatment of type 2 diabetes…more

An interesting analysis on adverse event reporting, and social media.

Is the war on cancer really winnable? A realistic and pessimistic analysis from Newsweek.

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After Hours 9_26

I want this desktop doomsday device.

Yes, even wine can be politicized!

There’s no place like a new home office!

A much cooler version of something we’ve shown before – a worldwide map showing the traffic patterns of airplanes over the span of a day. Very cool!

Even if you’re not into golf, this amazing putt by Tiger Woods will blow your mind. A classic.

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FREE Webinar next week: Learn what’s shaking up the learning industry and what’s causing it to reevaluate its strategies when you join Training magazine for a live, interactive Webinar, as Training Technology in Action Conference & Awards host Bryan Chapman discusses the five major trends driving changes within the industry. Tuesday, Sept. 30 – all the details and registration here.

Chief Learning Officer on Leading with Substance and Style.

Chief Learning Officer on Social Media implementations.

CLO’s InfoZone – free downloads (must register first).

NEW THING - one of my roles is to find new things (or be available to be found by people with new things!). I’m eyeballing a device/service which is an inexpensive, branded, one-time use digital player for training and/or marketing purposes. This would occupy the middle ground between your typical audio CD-ROM, and a low-end iPod. You produce the audio – the company loads it onto the player, brands it, and you distribute to your audience. Sound interesting to you? Let me know what you think!

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Huge cuts at Schering-Plough: 1,000 sales jobs going away – As part of a reorganization already under way, the drugmaker is eliminating 1,000 sales jobs – or 20 percent of its sales force – by October. Many of the 4,000 or so surviving reps, meanwhile, will be shifted to pitch different types of docs or work in other territories. A Schering-Plough spokesman confirmed the cuts…more

New Roche arthritis biologic delayed – In a setback for the drugmaker, the agency has issued a ‘complete response’ letter for Actemra, a biologic Roche hopes to market for treating rheumatoid arthritis. An FDA advisory committee endorsed its use last July by a 10-1 vote, but the agency wants “additional documentation” about manufacturing and other unspecified info, some of which relates to final labeling, according to Roche…more

Merck’s Gardasil: OK for vaginal cancer – U.S. health regulators have approved Merck and Co’s Gardasil vaccine to protect women against rare vaginal and vulvar cancers, the Food and Drug Administration said on Friday…more

GSK’s Tykerb: OK for head and neck cancer (maybe) – New clinical data supports the use of GlaxoSmithKline’s drug Tykerb as a treatment for head and neck cancer, endorsing the company’s move to push ahead with a final Phase III study in this indication…more

UCB’s Keppra XR: OK for sale – Belgian pharma group UCB said on Monday that U.S. health authorities had approved epilepsy drug Keppra XR and that it would go on sale just before its mother drug loses patent protection…more

Impactiviti’s Recommendra: Now prescribed for all training recommendations (OK, just checking to see if you were reading…)

J&J putting some heat on Enbrel for psoriasis – Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday its experimental psoriasis drug proved more effective than top-selling treatment Enbrel in a late-stage trial, was just as safe and required far fewer injections…more

Memory Pharmaceuticalsforget about jobs for half of employees.

An interesting new avenue of diabetes research unveiled – new class of hormones produced by body fat identified.

On the pharma marketing front….

Reuters and The Doctor’s Channel collaborate for streaming video healthcare “snacking.”

On-line detailing taking off.

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After Hours 9_19

A couple of very cool astronomy pictures – the shadow of an eclipse on earth (from orbit); and, an image of my favorite deep space object, a globular cluster (way back when, I owned a telescope and was a backyard amateur astronomer – one day I aspire to live somewhere with dark skies and renew that hobby!)

Remarkable close-up pix of dew drops – if you’re having a negative day, these images will brighten things up!

Top NASA photos of all time – 50 classics!

Trade in your old electronics and get cash – interesting (and eco-responsible) program from Office Depot.

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All Aboard!

Attended a local ASTD (Mid-NJ chapter) last night, which was on the topic of On-Boarding. Scott Mason of BlessingWhite gave a very interesting talk, which was peppered with all kinds of audience involvement – this was clearly a hot topic for folks in the audience.

Having worked deeply with one client on a revamp of the initial sales training process (touching also on Orientation/On-Boarding), I found the talk to be very on-target. Scott identified 4 elements to a good on-boarding process:

  • The Basics – the organization, HR stuff, basic overview of functional matters
  • The Affirmation – good first impressions, fun, meeting executives, network-building
  • The Fit – mission/culture of the organization, where this role “fits” overall, job-specific info
  • The Job – manager/employee relationship, alignment of goals/strategy, rapid learning curve to productivity

One of the major points was the dollars-and-sense importance of making those initial days as positive and constructive as possible, since a great start is an important factor in productivity and retention. Good stuff!

(for those of you in the NJ area, I should mention that I have now transitioned out of my former role as VP Communications with the Mid-NJ chapter, handing it off to a very dynamic replacement who will serve on the board and continue to move things forward. It’s been an honor to work with the Mid-NJ team over the past couple of years).

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If you’re interested in where new marketing/new media technology is going within pharma, then you need to look at the eXL 2nd Annual Digital Pharma conference, coming up Oct. 14-16 in Princeton, NJ.

I’ll be there. I plan to do some event blogging during and after the conference. UPDATE: I’ll also be speaking on a panel late Wednesday afternoon, on the use of social media in pharma!

Lots of great topics and speakers on tap, including the use of social media, patient-pharma web 2.0 approaches, interactive digital marketing tools, regulatory and legal concerns, and much more.

Here’s where you get all the info, and sign up.

I hope to see you there!

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King begins hostile takeover proceedings with Alpharma – Brain Markison, King’s ceo, is disappointed that Dean Mitchell, Alpharma’s ceo, hasn’t responded to his initial offer $1.4 billion offer, which amounted to $33 a share. So Markison raised the bid to $37, or $1.6 billion, and is going directly to shareholders…more

J&J’s Christine Poon to retire.

ImClone to BMS: maybe we’re already dating – The drugmaker calls the $60-a-share bid by Bristol-Myers Squibb ‘inadequate,’ and goes on to say in a statement this morning that famed corporate raider Carl Icahn, who chairs ImClone’s board, has had ’several conversations with the ceo of a large pharmaceutical company,’ which was not named…more And more BMS-to-ImClone here, and on the response here.

Meanwhile, BMS grounding its fleet – Bristol-Myers Squibb is preparing to shut down its aviation operation at Trenton-Mercer Airport, sell four aircraft and dismiss about 32 employees as the drugmaker and leading Mercer County employer seeks to cut costs, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans…more

Amgen violating patents?

Can Botox relieve migraines?

FDA reports rare brain infection/death with Rituxan – The agency says a woman died of the rare viral infection more than a year and a half after discontinuing the drug, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and is marketed in the US by Genentech and Biogen Idec…more

Sanofi fills top job with Viehbacher from Glaxo – Chris Viehbacher, GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s head of North American operations, is to take a top job with French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis, a person familiar with the situation said on Tuesday…more

Januvia, 2 years in: thumbs up – Merck & Co’s diabetes drug Januvia substantially improves blood sugar levels over two years of treatment when combined with the older drug metformin and is generally well tolerated, new data on Tuesday showed…more

Experimental diabetes drug (BMS/AZ) promising – Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca’s experimental diabetes drug Onglyza significantly improves blood sugar control when added to older medicines, researchers said on Monday…more

Fast track for cancer drug Afinitor – An experimental drug from Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG has been granted priority review in the United States as a treatment for advanced kidney cancer. Novartis said on Tuesday that RAD001 or everolimus, which it plans to sell under the brand name Afinitor, had been accepted for fast review given the medicine’s potential to help patients who fail to respond to standard therapy…more

Tysabri for cancer? - Biogen Idec and Elan Corp have launched the first clinical trial of their multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri for patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, the companies said on Friday…more

Celgene gets a fast track for lung cancer drugCelgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) today announced that Amrubicin has been granted Fast Track product designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of small cell lung cancer after first-line chemotherapy…more

Is Pfizer interested in Bayer?

Sample trouble: drives up costs? – Free drug samples provided by drugmakers to doctors could actually be costing uninsured patients more in the long run, according to a new retrospective study in the Southern Medical Journalmore

The Allergan-Medicis “death match” – Allergan and Medicis have been locked in a highly profitable death-match for several years, with both companies bringing out me-too versions of the others’ products, just like Coke and Pepsi…more

But will it be posted in the Post Office? The FDA 20The first list is a bare-bones compilation naming 20 medications and the potential issue for each. It provides no indication of how widespread or serious the problems might be, leading some consumer advocates to question its usefulness, and prompting industry worries that skittish patients might stop taking a useful medication if they see it listed…more

Zimmer growing some spine.

GSK and Valeant on epilepsy drug tie-up.

Pfizer and Medivation to work together on Alzheimer’s/Huntington’s treatment.

Genentech and Roche acting merged: facilities closing - The fallout from Roche’s looming acquisition of Genentech has started. Roche will close a research facility in Palo Alto, Calif., where a 1,000 people work, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Back in July Roche said it would pull the plug on the lab in Stanford Research Park, but the company hedged, saying the closure would happen if the bid for Genentech were successful. Genentech has demurred so far, but most people think it’s just a matter of time before the deal happens. And now, Roche told the Mercury News it’s closing the plant, no matter what…more

No vigil for Provigil at TakedaCephalon Inc. will end its co- promotion agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. in North America for the sleep-disorder drug Provigil, because net sales dropped to less than $850 million this year…more

UCB: Yep, we’re specialty now. Translation: downsizing – If you can’t buy a biopharmaceutical company, you might as well become one. UCB Pharma last week announced that it will trim 17 percent of its work force—about 2,000 employees—in order to reestablish the company as specialty drug firm….more

Every once in a while you want to visit here – Forbes’ New Drugs to Watch page.

This is way cool – A little-used cancer drug called bryostatin can repair brain tissue if it’s administered within 24 hours after a stroke, according to U.S. researchers. Current stroke treatments must be administered within three hours and aren’t able to repair damaged brain tissue, the scientists said…more

Shire and Vyvanse for ADHD – One of the recent unheralded successes of the drug world was Shire Pharmaceuticals‘ launch of Vyvanse, a new, long-acting treatment for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. The fact that so little attention has been paid to Vyvanse is a shame because the take-up of this drug has been impressive — it appears to be well on its way to supplanting Adderall XR as the king of the ADHD drugs…more

I kinda think this one’s a no-win for Genentech – Negative public opinion just keeps piling on to Genentech regarding its pricing policy on Lucentis and Avastin. This weekend saw a big Associated Press story describe how the company is refusing to ask the FDA to approve Avastin for use in treating “wet age-related macular degeneration,” an eye condition that leads to blindness. Genentech is doing this, most people believe, because Avastin would be a much cheaper treatment for wet AMD than Lucentis, another Genentech drug. It costs about $60 per dose to use Avastin on the disease, and $2,000 to use Lucentis…more

Speaking of no-win – releasing Vytorin data…more

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