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Archive for November, 2009

Welcome back from Thanksgiving holiday! Can’t believe it’s already December…

This will be the only Impactiviti Daily this week, as I am heading down to South Carolina for the graduation of my #2 son (David) from Marine boot camp.

TODAY’S NEWS

Layoffs. Sanofi reps are apparently getting the news this week. Ugh.

Will Celgene‘s Revlimid take off even faster? – Celgene Corp. can more than triple sales for its best-selling cancer pill Revlimid on new data that may convince doctors to choose the drug as a first option over Johnson & Johnson’s intravenous medicine, Velcade.

Court to Glaxo reps seeking overtime pay: No. FDA to Novartis on seasonal flu shot: Yes.

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PLUS

Mystic the Marketing Lab gives her first interview. On canine branding.

JUST FOR FUN

Twenty amazing photographers from around the Internet.

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I wish all my readers and pharma-industry colleagues a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

TODAY’S NEWS

Cephalon, Ception, and CINQUIL: the stats don’t reach significance, but at least all the names are similar – “We are pleased to see a positive biological effect of CINQUIL,” said Steve Tullman, Chief Executive Officer at Ception Therapeutics. “Conducting clinical studies in a new disease area is always challenging. We will continue to review the data from this study and from our ongoing open-label study to find the best path forward for CINQUIL for the treatment of eosinophilic esophagitis.”more

Might a few companies (such as Endo or King) be targets to go private? WSJ reports.

Can pharma sales reps be turned into better value creators? A question we’re all thinking about…

Duh.

Oops. Abbott‘s Meridia weight-loss drug associated with higher rate of cardiovascular events – Meridia is a weight-loss drug approved in 1997. As part of its post-approval commitments, Abbott has been conducting a large study of 10,000 patients to determine whether treatment with Meridia could reduce the number of heart-related adverse events compared to a placebo. In mid-November, however, Abbott reported to regulatory agencies that treatment with Meridia was associated with an 11.4% rate of cardiovascular events compared to 10% for patients treated with placebomore

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PLUS

An update on Pfizer’s Social Media initiatives. Encouraging!

JUST FOR FUN

Changing behavior through fun. The Piano Stairs.

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I enjoy seeing ANY kind of progress in pharma’s use of social media – most of us who are involved realize that we’re still going to be in the shallow end of the pool for a while (with all the regulatory uncertainty) – but when any company tries to responsibly move the needle, they deserve a shout-out.

Some weeks back, I tweaked my friends at Pfizer about an apparent lack of progress in some of their social media efforts. I’m glad to say that some interesting developments have come to light in recent days, underscored by Ray Kerins at a recent BDI event in NYC.

Applause lines:

1. Their Twitter account (@pfizer_news) now has an identifiable, named person behind it (Jen Kokell) who showed up at the event along with Ray. Also, the tweets are beginning to feel a little more personal, even if most of them are still one-way communications. Bravo #1.

2. Pfizer has launched an internal platform for employee discussion, where (apparently) just about anything goes, apart from the usual restrictions like cursing, etc. This is private, of course, but an encouraging development – I still think that much of the initial growth of social media in pharma will be with internal solutions that break down silos, encourage openness, and help people find information from their colleagues. Bravo #2.

3. A great idea is the recently launched Medicine Safety website, for patient education in a completely non-promotional environment. This type of interactive educational website is a great use of an on-line forum for helping improve the experience of utilizing medicine. It also has a link to Medwatch for reporting adverse events. Bravo #3.

4. They’re also experimenting with group public blogging (Think Science Now), to try to bring the voice of their scientist community into the open. It’s hard to say how successful this will be, but certainly a Bravo (#4) is deserved for the idea and effort.

5. I’ll save my biggest Bravo for last. And that’s Ray Kerins’ stated approach that they’re just going GET OUT THERE, be engaged in the dialogue, figure it out, and if they don’t yet know how to measure/quantify results – well, that’s not going to stop them from starting and evolving. This is exactly the approach I seek to encourage – measure what and when you can, but don’t sit at the starting line when being involved in social networking can bring about so much potential good over time.

I ended my prior post this way: There are much smaller companies who are being quite pro-active in this space. This would be a very good time for Pfizer to seize the mantle of leadership. Hmmm…maybe that’s happening sooner rather than later!

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It’s Thanksgiving week! We’ll plan on publishing the Daily on Monday/Tuesday, then take the rest of the week off from news reporting. Unless somebody buys somebody else. That, we’ll report!

TODAY’S NEWS

Sanofi chief wants to do things differently. Liked this juicy quote:  Mr Viehbacher added: “The best scientists are often lousy leaders [and] managers. You had a research and development god who hoped a blockbuster emerged. When it didn’t, you merged. The model was flawed. I think the mistake we made in our industry was, we made R&D organisations that were very big, very complex, very difficult to manage, and we killed the innovative spirit”more

Morphine – kill pain, grow tumors?? – Two new studies add to growing evidence that morphine and other opiate-based painkillers may promote the growth and spread of cancer cellsmore

Pfizer reaps one of the consequences of merging: inherited lawsuits – Two Pfizer Inc. units’ hormone- replacement therapy drugs caused an Illinois woman’s breast cancer, making them liable for at least $6.3 million in damages, a Philadelphia jury ruled todaymore

B-I hoping to take a big bite out of warfarin – Just 2.4 percent of patients given Pradaxa for six months after their initial treatment developed clots in the legs and lungs, similar to the 2.2 percent rate for those given the generic drug warfarin, according to an abstract of the so-called Recover study posted on the American Society of Hematology Web site last week. There was no increased risk of major bleeding, a complication of blood-thinning treatmentsmore

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What about that pesky Social Media/ROI question? My thoughts

JUST FOR FUN

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TODAY’S NEWS

So, have we been pursuing the wrong course for GERD all this time? Is it actually caused by immune system cells, not stomach acid?

Maybe cheap/old/tried-and-true really is better. Diuretics for HPB, for instance. Or just plain generic simvastatin for cholesterol.

Pfizer gets good news on Revatio (which is the same as Viagra, by the way) for the treatment of PAH; Spiriva for COPD; and the Prevnar 13 vaccine.

Genzyme: Train wreck?. But wait – there’s more.

Getting excited about sex: not so easy to be excited about B-I‘s experimental treatment for female desire; Vivus‘ competitor to current ED drugs still on track, however.

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PLUS

Blind Spots and Broken Limbs. I’ve got them, too…

JUST FOR FUN

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Whew! The back-to-back conference marathon is now over, and we can get back to our regular pharma news reporting. Here’s what’s up today…

TODAY’S NEWS

Everyone’s talking about the Zetia/Niaspan study – its results, its significance, its limitations. Bottom line – I can’t see how this can be good for Merck. More here. And Jim Edwards analyzes the damage control spin effort here.

Always a headline topic: female sexual desire treatments. The more you read about this drug (experimental ‘flibanserin’ from Boehringer-Ingelheim), however, the more you wonder if the purported effect will be worth the expense and the side effects.

BMS pushing Mead-Johnson out of the nest. It is amazing to me how drug companies cycle through periods where they diversify, then spin divisions off…

Novartis: half a dose of H1N1 vaccine may be enough. Now that’s how to increase vaccine supply!

If you’re going to blow the whistle, I guess it’s important to get on to the field of play! Whistleblower lawsuit against J&J dismissed.

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Is this drug a frog, or a prince? I dunno, but I like the picture…!

JUST FOR FUN

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[I'm talking pharma here. But just swap in your industry and the argument will likely apply!]

Here in the highly regulated prairies of pharma-land, there is a fair amount of fear and trembling about drug companies getting involved with social networking.

Many of the discussions start and end with the perceived potential pitfalls (lots of which are actually red herrings). What if a patient talks about an adverse event with our drug? How can we “talk” directly to patients? What if there is off-label discussion? Is it a form of marketing? What’s the ROI? What will the FDA think? How do we know what we can or can’t say?

All the pitfalls come to the surface – which are convenient excuses to do nothing.

But what few realize is that the biggest danger is the pitfall of doing nothing.

Not being involved where the discussions are already occurring is choosing to be irrelevant. And people ARE talking about your drug and your company – and their conditions, and their needs, and their desire to know more. Why shuffle your feet on the sidelines when the game is being played at midfield?

Not learning to communicate using new media is choosing to get and stay behind the eight ball. There are many safe, shallow-end-of-the-pool proven ways to begin to use blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube – and more importantly than any particular tactic or platform – there are straightforward ways to communicate and get involved. You don’t need a rulebook from the FDA to get started. You need to grow a pair.

Not moving forward when your competitors are learning the ropes is choosing to look regressive and out-of-touch. Social networking isn’t some alien passing fancy that will disappear overhead while your head is planted in the sand. It is now a normal and expected part of everyday communications. Some pharma companies are using it. Others…content to perch on the fence.

Doing nothing is not a strategy. It’s a cop-out. When discussing the potential pitfalls of social media, don’t forget the opportunity costs of the biggest one of all. Doing nothing.

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