Archive for December, 2007

Merry Christmas

It’s time to wrap up my final consulting tasks, gather my little ones (and not-so-little-ones!) around the fire, break out the cookies and the presents, and enjoy the holiday.

Thanks to all my clients, partners, friends, readers and others who have made 2007 such an enjoyable and productive year.

Have a wonderful Christmas season!


(Image credit)

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A high-end narrated 3-D animation of the “inner life of a cell.” Very cool.

Where can you find some good (low-cost or no-cost) images? Here’s a helpful list.

If you use Facebook at all, you’ll get a kick out of this spoof glimpse into Facebook 30 years in the future.

And finally, an inspirational year-end treat. Patrick Hughes – born without eyes, crippled from birth, gifted musician – and a member of the University of Louisville marching band. Amazing.

(And, here’s another wonderful story featured on the Impactiviti blog last December)



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Some interesting oncology results:

Millennium‘s Velcade used in combo therapy for multiple myeloma shows impressive results.

Cephalon‘s Treanda shows impressive remission numbers for CLL, and effectiveness in non-Hodgins lymphoma (NHL).

Celgene‘s Revlimid continues to produce good results at a low-dose regimen.

Novartis‘ Gleevec: effective at halting leukemia progression up to 6 years.

Eisai decides to grab MGI Pharma, and its stable of oncology drugs.

Biogen-Idec‘s Zevalin, a radioimmunotherapy agent, halted NHL progression in 76% of patients (single treatment!).

AZ’s Arimidex shown superior to tamoxifen for breast cancer, even 4 years after treatment.

GSK‘s Tykerb helps fight brain tumors in combo with Xeloda.

And, on the bleeding edge:

Prasugrel (new blood thinning treatment from Daiichi-Sankyo and Lilly) continues to show promise – and some mixed results in certain populations.

Glaxo‘s experimental platelet booster shows efficacy in long-term treatment (Glaxo also announced new deals with 2 biotechs). However, GSK is now hit with a delay on its Cervarix vaccine.

Bayer and J&J’s experimental blood thinner takes on market-leader Lovenox in blood clot prevention study.

WSJ has summary article on the blood thinner race to market.

And, in other news:

Novartis the latest to announce major job cuts.

Merck still developing obesity and cholesterol drugs.

FDA approves new blood pressure drug from Mylan/Forest.

Lilly CEO to retire.

Changing endpoints…a clinical study no-no. WSJ has the story, on a long-delayed Vytorin study.

Is Alzheimer’s a form of diabetes? Very intriguing line of research…

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In Washington, D.C. there is a movement to do just that.

What’s disturbing is the broad-brush, assumption of guilt revealed in words like these:

The District could become the first jurisdiction in the country to license pharmaceutical sales representatives, a move a council member says would help protect doctors and patients from disreputable agents who help drive up the costs of prescription drugs…Because the agents’ salaries are dependent on sales, they sometimes give the wrong impressions about drugs and present themselves as medical professionals, Catania said….Catania and advocates of the bill say patients’ health can be threatened by salespeople who provide false information about prescription drugs.

I think perhaps, with this logic, we should license politicians. And journalists.

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After Hours 12_7

It’s official – Style has now replaced Substance (30 second audio).

Would you pay $120.00 for a beer?

Something as simple as a water droplet can make a great photo. Examples here and here.

Do you have teenagers (I have 3…so far). Then this will make sense to you! It is now posted in our kitchen…

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The connection between high cholesterol and risk of stroke is questioned.

Is Avandia contributing to bone breakage? And more bad news for the GSK diabetes treatment…two healthcare providers drop the medication from their formularies. For switcheroos, it appears that most doctors are leaning toward Januvia or Byetta.

Long-ish article from Business Week on Genentech‘s current and future status. And, here is one doctor’s summary about why he voted “nay” on the FDA panel considering Avastin for breast cancer.

Novartis has plans for 4 more cancer drugs.

Certain lymphoma drugs may be derailed based on this Medicare decision.

Teva‘s Copaxone may actually cut the risk of developing MS.

An interesting perspective from Derek Lowe on why it’s not all bad that companies developing competing drugs in the same class.

An update on the status of eDetailing.

Here’s a fascinating finding – does body temperature (specifically, a fever) unlock the effects of autism??

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This is the sixth in an occasionaly series on home page design for pharma companies. Today, we take a look at Sanofi-Aventis. On my marketing blog, I have previously remarked on S-A’s logo/tagline (“Because Health Matters”) – now for the implementation of their web presence.

In a word…blecchh.


Everything is whacked out, proportionally speaking, on this home page. There is a vast sea of unproductive, and – this is the first time I’ve ever said this – almost repulsive white space along the top. That amount of blankness simply does not belong. There is a menu bar which only extends halfway across the page, which is hard on the eyes, because everything is 2-color. Then, on the right side, there is a sub-menu bar in smaller type – the entire menu system is simply non-intuitive.

Once you get past the overly expansive header with its sea of white space, there is barely room for any content below the menu bar. But what content there is, is highly corporate. Nothing to draw in the user, nothing of immediate interest – just corporate press releases, links to financial statements, Sustainable Development links, and…well, not much else.

This site does not tell a story. It is visually unappealing. It doesn’t even let me know, at a glance, what Sanofi-Aventis is or does.

And someone should tell these folks not to refer to themselves as “The Group.” Sounds like a cult, or the French mafia, or something…

Going in to the menus, I was hoping that maybe there would be some good and interesting content beyond the home page. Nope. Just lists of brief statements and links. It almost seems like whoever designed this site was specifically charged not to make it engaging. This is one of the Top 5 pharma companies in the world – I expect, if not to be dazzled, at least to be interested!

To cap it all off, you click on the Careers menu item and you get this user-friendly screen:


Leaving the “institutional” site, and entering one of the “Group” sites…was this text all written by lawyers?

All in all, not a pleasant on-line experience. I see nothing in the information or interface design that can be salvaged. This one needs to re-built from scratch. Because a good website matters.

Prior website reviews:






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charlie-weis.jpgIn a surprise move announced today, Behemoth Pharmaceutical has hired Charlie Weis, former Notre Dame football coach, to be CEO.

“We needed some fresh leadership around here, and Charlie Weis, with his background in sports metaphors, seemed like the ideal choice,” stated Frank Gipper, current Chairman of the Board. “When he came and spoke to us about his vision for a winning healthcare company, we just knew that he could come on board and help us execute.”

According to Weis, “It’s a real battle out there, but the Behemoth team is clearly ready to play, and we’re just going to take it one molecule at a time. We’re not going to leave anything in the labs, but we’re going to lace it up and run the best discovery program we can. I’m pumped about our beta blockers, and also that product safety I’ve been hearing about. We might even get a few small-pharma transfers to beef up our offensive pipeline.

“On paper we’re as good as any of the other guys. Right now, it just comes down to blocking and tackling. Or dosing and titrating, or whatever it is we do. We’re going to put on a clinic with our clinical trials and stay focused, remembering that there is no “I” in TEAM.”

Behemoth staffers seemed cautiously excited about Weis, feeling the momentum shift as the home team lined up for the kickoff of the new leadership group. “It’s been a real pressure cooker here, but this was a gutsy hire, and it could mark the turning point for our company,” declared Sam Biotic, VP of Sales. “Some of our mature products are in a fourth-and-long situation, but we’re tossing our old game plan out the window, we’re going to fight it out in the trenches, and we intend to put some market share points up on the board.”

weis-interview.jpgOthers were not impressed. J.P. MacRost, Litigation Consultant and Pharmaceutical Marketing Expert Witness, said, “Hey…I’m supposed to be the big whistleblower around here. Where does this executive jock wannabe get off thinking he can call the shots? Has he ever testified before the Swedish Congress? Besides, he looks like he needs a serious jolt of Alli or something.”

In compensation for Weis, Notre Dame will receive a VP of Finance and a diuretic to be named later.


The Pharma Side
Copyright 2007 Impactiviti LLC

Other spoofs from The Pharma Side

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From Chief Learning Officer website:

The evolution of the LMS – a brief history of how LMS platforms have evolved. Companion reading to my recent rant about LMS!

Using business simulations – this article talks about one particular Sim, but I have solid partners who can help you create pharma-specific sims for both field training, and management development.

Mastery or competency – valuable thought on the difference between imparting test-able knowledge, and actually developing skills. These ideas are currently re-shaping one of my client’s approach to initial sales training.

Free webinar on Learning 2.0 (informal learning).

Stopping by the CLO site at least once per month is a good idea, for getting fresh articles on training.

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Do you?

I’ve recently been reading over proposals for learning management platforms (2 separate initiatives), and a lot of them bother me.

There are multiple reasons why (more below), but maybe the main point is this: a LMS is now a utility, a means to an end.

What you really need is a sales force communication platform. A portal, if you will.

A sales force communication platform allows you to reach your field sales people with a variety of information and resources, SOME of which have to do with training curricula, assessments, etc. A full-service portal will also contain links to lots of other items of interest (personalized by role, sales force, development level, etc.), such as corporate info, forms, marketing materials, gaming, compliance stuff, software tutorials (EPSS), animations, and what have you. For field managers, there will be reports on reps, development opportunities, schedules, etc. LMS platforms, by and large, were not created around the business, training, and communications needs of pharmaceutical field forces. Therefore, they often feel like an ill-fitting suit.

Some LMS platforms kinda-sorta allow you to deploy other objects, but they are primarily there to, well, manage and track your learning. Boring.

And, LMS vendor proposals seem to reflect that. A lot of emphasis on technical and engineering details, but little attention paid to user experience. Data integrity is good, but how about easy administration and a flexible user interface? I saw the back-end of one big-league LMS recently, and it literally needed a technical resource to administer it. I wanted to throw up.

Learning management is a functional utility. It is not a destination, and as a metaphor for information access, it makes a poor interface.

Over the years, I’ve been involved in a lot of technical platform implementations, and I think a lot of the companies trying to support the behemoth LMS platforms (have any of them made any profits yet, at least by GAAP reckoning??) are going to get their lunch eaten by faster-moving, more responsive companies with simpler, client-focused business models. And with platforms that can look and feel a lot more like the portals we have all started to use on the web.

And here’s one hint for LMS vendors, while I’m spewing – if you’re going to submit a proposal, at least make sure that you have some basics like spelling and grammar down. I’m appalled at some of what I’ve been reading. Trying to sell a six or seven figure project, without the ability to write a coherent proposal?? And instead of endless flow charts about how your company is structured, or your problem escalation strategy, how about some effort put into defining the actual business need? And the user interface? Stuff all the geek-speak into appendices at the end, along with the endless lists of specs, and start talking about the problems you’re going to solve. Because it’s not about your J2EE programming and database migration schema. It’s about field users getting what they need, quickly, and enjoying the process.

Geez. No wonder I’m getting business writing RFPs and evaluating vendors!

P.S. Maybe the misspellers are using the same service that created this menu:


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