Archive for January, 2008

Vytorin Dilemma Solved!

macrost-sm.jpgIn a shocking new development which has organic farmers rejoicing nationwide, Behemoth Pharmaceuticals President J.P. MacRost announced this week that his company is releasing new “free-range” Vytorin to deal with both sources of Vytorin angst – pharma and phraud.

“We’ve been secretly working on our all-natural, free-range version for quite some time, “stated MacRost at a hastily assembled news conference. “Our plan was to release it in the fall, after we’d gotten all the feed stock stored up for the winter, but with the recent Vytorin hubbub, involving lack of efficacy and possibly questionable stock sell-offs, we decided to put our organic product out on the market right now.”


Free-range Vytorin ranch in Ploughville, Montana

“With free-range Vytorin, you get to lower your cholesterol without worrying about artery thickness, changed endpoints, or Steve Nissen’s pronouncements over at that Cleveland Clinic place. All you get is 100% natural Vytorin, grown and raised on our pure Montana rangeland. You don’t even need those pesky doctor permission slips – we ship free-range Vytorin directly to your doorstep, in plain cardboard packaging,” declared MacRost.

Kevin Trudough, consumer crusader and author of the upcoming volume “Two Sources of Pharma Phraud – Me and Them,” had this to say about the announcement of a free-range version of Vytorin; “Anything natural is better than stuff churned out by these evil pharmaceutical companies, and I wholeheartedly endorse this wonderful new source of Vytorin. In fact, if you buy one bottle, you get my prior bestselling book free, Natural Cures that Aunt Bessie and the Pasta Industry Didn’t Want You to Know About. Plus, Behemoth will also include a sample bottle of pesticide-free Plavix, absolutely free if you order before midnight tonight and pay by credit card.”

Asked about FDA clearance for these all-natural versions of commercial pharmaceuticals, MacRost replied, “Of course, none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, and we make no claims to cure any medical condition. But if you want to lower your cholesterol, reduce the chance of getting heart attacks and avoid using Dr. Jarvik’s artificial heart, then you definitely want our FDA-approved free range Vytorin. And remember, call right now and we’ll include a free Rezulin squishy beer can cozy, absolutely free while supplies last.”


The Pharma Side
Copyright 2008 Impactiviti LLC

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In my occasional series on how effectively pharma companies present themselves on their website home pages, today we arrive at Abbott labs (Abbott.com).


I will admit right off that I’ve never been a fan of the Abbott logo. I find it singularly uninspiring and I wish that a company that has so much going for it would project a more engaging image. And, the first thing that I noticed on this page was the sub-optimal way the logo is treated, in 2 respects:

    1. The main huge “A” (too big, btw) on the top left is crowded way over to the edge of the screen – no visual buffer. This isn’t Internet 1997 – such placements are easy to control, and this presentation is jarring.
    2. The “Abbott” name just to the right of the huge “A” is a different typeface than the one over at the top right. That’s just wrong. Graphic Design 101 – you have one logo, one typeface, one image.

OK, that’s out of my system. Now, on to white space. Interesting, this site has a lot of it – but unfortunately, it is poorly used. It has what I call “scary” white space – disproportionate placement of the elements in a sea of white, so the viewer feels disoriented. The graphic in the middle seems like Kon-tiki drifting in the vast Pacific. There are too many varying shapes and sizes that don’t fit “pleasingly” in the white.

At least there is a tease to view a patient story front-and-center, which is an element I believe is very important for companies in our industry. However, the rest of the navigation scheme is strictly in the ho-hum “list” motif – “here’s a whole set of links to stuff, find what you want.” That doesn’t crystallize, for the viewer, who Abbott is – what is this company about? What is the mission? What is unique? Why should I care? By this, I don’t mean some dry mission statement. I mean a punchy, summary phrase that immediately grabs my interest and pulls me into the Abbott story (note: the first link under Features, at the bottom of the above graphic, could be a great angle – the story of founder Wallace Abbott).

Once you get past the home page, into the sub-menus, the site is quite pedestrian – a very basic and non-engaging design. I would classify this site as firmly rooted in the past – a Web 1.0 “let’s present information” design that hasn’t yet grown up into effective engagement. It’s safe, it’s conservative – it’s there. Abbott can do better.

Prior website reviews:







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magnify.jpgShort answer – you do.

How many times have you been ambushed with this scenario: “We need a new workshop on so-and-so for the March POA meeting!” or, “We need a new training piece on such-and-such competitor!” or, “We need to jazz up Day 1 of New Hire Training!”

Now, maybe you do need something along those lines, or maybe not. But a knee-jerk suggestion isn’t the same as a needs assessment, is it?

Here are 5 elements, some or all of which may be woven into a training needs assessment:

User analysis: who are those that are to receive the training, and what is their current level of knowledge/development?

Work analysis: what are the tasks to be performed, and how will the training address that?

Context analysis: what the business needs being addressed by the training?

Content analysis: what are the materials being used, for training and for the job at hand?

Constraint analysis: what limiters (time, budget, personnel, technology, political roadblocks) will necessarily shape how an intervention can be developed and deployed?

Assuming that the need is, in fact, a training need (might it be a coaching/performance support need?), then it becomes a question of designing the intervention based on the gaps identified, deciding on the best development course for the intervention, and determining the cost/benefit of that training intervention.

Bad training can occur through “reactive mode” interventions – doing something because somebody said we need to do something. You stand a far better chance of success by doing a needs assessment  before coming up with a training solution  (shameless plug – I can work with you on this task as a consultant, as well as help identify ideal suppliers).

(Image credit)

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After Hours 1_26

Who doesn’t like to save money? Here’s a page with 21 money-savings sites around the web.

Create your own, instant, no-cost, ad-hoc chat room on-line (ChatMaker).

Fun with time-lapse photography. 13 very cool time-lapse wonders. It’s hard to pick a favorite, though the Milky Way clip is really astonishing. This is a 3/4 cup of coffee stop on the web, so give yourself a few minutes…!

Do’s and don’ts with babies. Hysterical.

I laughed so hard it hurt. Forwarded by a sister-in-law: Mrs. Hughes. If you have kids, you’ll especially enjoy this!

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Telling Stories

chip-heath.jpgI notice that Chip Heath has been invited to give the keynote at the upcoming SPBT conference. Superb choice! I’ve been corresponding with Chip and Dan since they released their very helpful book Made to Stick (reviewed previously on this blog), and this should be a not-to-be-missed session.

One of their main points in making your messages “sticky” is to tell stories – here and here are some brief articles about storytelling in training.

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Job Openings

Here’s a helpful link to a number of job openings in pharma and training. You can play with the search criteria and look at whatever slices you need.

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Daiichi-Sankyo‘s Welchol gets approval for improving glycemic control in adults with Type 2 diabetes.

Novartis – for 11 years in a row – grabs the top spot in the Verispan Managed Care audit.

Roche prevails in its takeover bid for Ventana.

The knives are still out – Wyeth to cut another 10% of workforce?

Vytoringate Merck and Schering-Plough, taking a beating in the blogosphere and press over Vytorin, try to give an answer to the many questions and charges floating about.

Lipitor has its first – certainly not its last – sales decline.

Stents, stents, and more stents – new study proclaims drug-coated stents safe; bypasses for people with multiple clogged arteries seen as a better option than stents; new coating on stents that “cloaks” them may be more effective than using drug-eluting varieties. (why do I care about progress in the drug-eluting stent marketplace?? – it’s a long story that involves radioactive sources. Ask me some day…)

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no-entry.jpgMedical Marketing and Media is reporting that nearly 1 in 5 doctors are not seeing drug/device reps, and about the same percentage are requiring appointments.

Here’s an excerpt from the article (click the link above for the full story):

Nineteen percent of US office-based physicians refuse to see drug and device industry sales reps, according to a recent analysis conducted by healthcare marketing firm SK&A Information Services.

Another 22.7% require reps to set an appointment, the survey found.

“The old days of walking into an office and bumping into the doctor are waning,” said Dave Escalante, SK&A president said in a statement…

[In the meantime, here is a press release from the Certified Medical Representative Institute (CMRI) about the preference for well-educated reps.]

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epharma_summit_2008.jpgIIRUSA puts on the ePharma Summit each year (this is the 7th annual), and it’ll be in Philadelphia Jan. 28-30. Lots of great speakers and leading-edge topics.

As always, I’ll be keeping my eyes out for innovative approaches and technology solutions.

All the info and registration links are here. Hope to see you there!

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no-bad-training-card-sm.jpgIn virtually all areas of human endeavor, it’s simply easier to go with the crowd.

Why do pharma companies target thought leaders? Simple – most of us are followers. Since we don’t all have the time, expertise, or clout to forge new paths, the safest route is typically to do what everyone else is doing.

And that’s one way that bad training gets started.

    Home Study is (2 / 3 / 4) weeks long.
    Initial Sales Training classes begin with 3 days of lectures.
    We test every week, with a passing score of 85.
    We use (Company X) to do this set of workshops.
    Etc., etc., etc.

The one question you should ask is, “Why”? And the second question you should ask, on a periodic basis, is “Is this training method the best way to meet our goals”?

Continuous improvement means continuous re-analysis. It means getting fresh ideas. It means swimming against the current of inertia. It means having the boldness to say that, no matter what everyone is else doing, and no matter what we have done in the past, maybe there is a better way.

Apple Computer has built their business on the motto, “Think Different“. They don’t settle for the status quo, but seek to break through pre-conceptions and lead the market.

Is is safe to follow the crowd? Sure, to some extent. But should we aspire to just be one more part of the “everybody” group, when training can be made better and better?

The first step toward fulfilling a “No Bad Training” resolution is: question stuff. It something doesn’t really seem to be effective, ask why. Seek out alternatives. Maybe it’s been dragging on like this because nobody, in 4 years, simply asked: Why?

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