Archive for June, 2008

Cymbalta approved for Fibromyalgia – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Cymbalta® (duloxetine HCl) for the management of fibromyalgia, a chronic widespread pain disorder, Eli Lilly and Company announced today…more

Takeda’s Actos may help prevent diabetes – Actos, a pill to treat diabetes, can prevent development of the disease in people with early symptoms, U.S. researchers reported…more

Amylin’s once-weekly Byetta looks promising for lowering blood sugar – Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Monday that a once-weekly version of its Byetta type 2 diabetes medicine led to additional improvements in blood sugar levels over the currently available drug that must be injected twice a day…more However, their stock was pounded after many positive news reports of competitive drugs.

Ranbaxy up for grabsDaiichi makes bid. Also, strikes deal with Pfizer over generic Lipitor.

Elan/Wyeth experimental Alzheimer’s drug continues to progress in clinical trials – A closely watched Phase II study of an experimental Alzheimier’s drug being developed by Elan and Wyeth shows the med appears to be effective in some patients. Known as bapineuzumab, the drug failed to achieve statistically significant results in the primary outcomes, but managed to do so in subgroups lacking a higher genetic risk to develop the disease…more

J&J, Red Cross, call it quits on legal fight – The lawsuits had an absurdist, has-it-really-come-to-this quality about them. Johnson & Johnson and the Red Cross — Band-Aids and baby powder, blood drives and disaster relief — were suing each other over the rights to the red cross emblem that both had long shared. Now, after getting most of its suit against the Red Cross tossed out by a judge, Johnson & Johnson has picked up its legal toys and gone home. The company said today that it is dismissing its remaining claims against the august nonprofit. And the Red Cross, for its part, threw out its counterclaims against J&J. The companies’ statement is online here more

FDA and Genentech in a staredown – Last year, Genentech caused a ruckus by restricting distribution of its Avastin med to compounding pharmacies, which were repackaging and selling the drug to opthalmologists for treating wet macular degeneration. Unlike Avastin, Genentech’s similar, but newer Lucentis was approved to treat the malady, but at $2,000 a dose will cost about 40 times as much…more

Cancer drug Gleevec may help with strokes? Very cool – A highly effective leukemia pill may reduce complications and boost the effectiveness of a treatment for the most common type of stroke, an international team of researchers said on Sunday. Studies in mice showed giving Gleevec or imatinib, a drug made by Novartis AG, significantly reduced bleeding in the brain associated with the clot-busting drug known as tissue plasminogen activator or tPA…more

Millennium/Takeda’s Velcade gets expanded approval – Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, Japan’s largest drugmaker, won U.S. approval to promote its cancer drug Velcade for earlier treatment of multiple myeloma, the company said on Friday…more

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After Hours 6_23

The 20 unhealthiest drinks in America. Ugggh. Read it and weep. See if one of YOUR favorites is on this list!

How to issue a formal apology (for those who prefer a “form” approach).

Yay! No higher death risk with long-term coffee use. Drink up!

Very cool pictures from Mars. Ever wonder what the Martian sky looks like? Now you know!

Fascinating older black-and-white pictures of New York City. Lots of ’em!

Lowe’s to Home Depot: Take $50. Please.

Absolutely loving Coldplay’s new album (Viva la Vida). Here’s a link to a really exceptional, layered instrumental piece.

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This blog focuses, generally speaking, on the pharmaceutical industry. It is mostly instructive and informative (and, at times, entertaining) in focus. However, on this occasion, I’m going to “out” a healthcare organization for its atrocious service. All of our efforts to resolve this quietly and reasonably have come to naught, so, Hackettstown Regional Medical Center (HRMC) and Hackettstown Emergency Association (HEA), listen up.

First, the events and the facts:

In October of last year, one of our sons was injured during a high school soccer game. He was brought to the Hackettstown (NJ) Regional Medical Center for treatment. Here is how things unfolded:

10/15/07 Our son was kicked in the jaw during a high school soccer game.  He was bleeding and, for a while, unconscious.  He was transported to the HRMC emergency room.

When my wife arrived with her mother (a retired head nurse, by the way), Dr. S___ told her that the patient had just finished having a CT scan done on his head and an X-ray done on his jaw.  They were later informed that both CT scan and X-ray had come back negative. That was a relief; though he was still in lots of pain, we could bring our son home.

10/16/07 The following day we brought our son in to see our pediatrician, as was recommended by Dr. S___.  He checked him and recommended that we see an oral surgeon if he had any problems with his teeth. We also brought him to our dentist, and he recommended allowing 2 weeks for the bruising of the tissues to heal (we told both of these doctors that the CT scan and the x-ray had been negative).

10/31/07 Our son was still in a great deal of pain in his jaw, so we brought him back to the dentist.  He saw evidence of an abscess and said that he should be seen immediately by an endodontist.

11/01/07 We took our son to the recommended endodontist.  He did an x-ray of the jaw and found an obvious fracture (see picture below) that went up into his tooth.  He was amazed that the ER had not found the fracture.  For two weeks, he had been (painfully) eating and going about his activities with an undiagnosed broken jaw. He said that our son should be seen by an oral surgeon as soon as possible.

11/02/07 We took our son to the oral surgeon.  He also x-rayed the jaw and found the fracture (note: I used to work in the radiology field for 10 years, and the break was obvious – but anyone with two eyes could see the fracture on that film). He was equally amazed that the ER had not found it.  Because over 2 weeks had elapsed since the accident, he recommended a complete liquid diet for 3-4 weeks. If the treatment did not work, then surgery would be necessary.  The oral surgeon also asked if he could have the hospital’s CT scan and x-ray sent to him so that he could compare them.

11/03/07 We faxed a letter requesting the films.

11/06/07 The endodontist performed the root canal on our son.

11/09/07 We had a follow-up visit with the oral surgeon.  He told us that the hospital sent over all the requested materials except any x-ray of the jaw.  Together we looked at the CT films which showed no evidence of a fracture.  We were puzzled by this.  We called the HRMC Radiology Dept.  They denied that the x-ray was ever taken.  Yet my wife and mother-in-law both clearly remember Dr. S___ speaking about a CT scan and an x-ray.  We then called the emergency room requesting to speak to Dr. S___.  He was unavailable, but we did speak with a very nice nurse about the situation.  She looked up my son’s chart and told us that according to his chart an x-ray was taken.  She said it was very odd that radiology denied having the film. She then said she wanted to check it out further and that she would call right back.  Two hours later, she called saying it “appeared” that the decision was made at the last minute not to do the x-ray, but that it was not noted in the chart.

Ironically, the films that were forwarded did include x-rays of my son’s clavicle and  shoulder, both of which were (thankfully) only bruised in the incident. But no frontal/saggital x-rays of his jaw, only some CT scans and a scout film? Hmmm…

It appears to us that whether or not the x-ray was taken, the hospital was potentially negligent.  If the x-ray was taken, it was misread by the radiologist and worse, lied about.  If not taken, it surely should have been, given our son’s presenting symptoms.

The picture below, clearly showing the fracture, is from a camera phone pic of the x-ray on a light board!

Fortunately, the fracture healed by itself, and no further damage was done to his jaw by the two weeks between injury and detection of the break. The outcome could have been much worse.

The high school insurance plan covered most of the costs, although we ended up paying $100 to the oral surgeon. However, HEA decided to bill us for $286.13 for the HRMC expenses that were not covered by insurance (it appears that the HEA is the physicians’ organization that HRMC uses for staffing and billing, etc.)

We called to dispute this charge; as a matter of principle, we have not paid it, given the questionable care that occurred during our son’s unfortunate visit to HRMC. We also sent a detailed letter (from which the account above is extracted) explaining why this bill is out of line. Multiple follow-up phone calls have yielded only an unfulfilled promise that the billing office manager would get back to us. In the meantime, we sent back each bill with a note explaining that we’ll consider their bill once we have a response to our letter.

While we have not chosen – at this point – to pursue litigation for medical malpractice, now HEA is sending a nasty follow-up bill with threats of a collection agency, blah, blah, blah. I guess they think it’s hardball time.

Hey, people – you already collected lots of dough from the insurance company for what I can only consider as sub-standard medical “care” in this case. And now you want to keep billing us, without even the courtesy of responding to our (very legitimate) concerns? My son drooled for weeks over the prospect of eating solid food because of what went on at HRMC, and I’m sure there are lawyers that would drool over the prospect of doing some public exposure in a potential case like this.

“First, do no harm,” says the doctor’s code. Well, with your unresponsive customer service, let alone the missed diagnosis in the case of my son, you’re harming your reputation. My response? – to use my blog for one of the most powerful purposes of social media, which is to expose both good and bad business (and medical) practices. Hardball? We can play that, too.

So, powers-that-be over at HRMC and HEA, I have a simple question for you: what’s most important to you? $286.13? Or your reputation? I’d suggest a rapid apology and a shut-off of your billing machine. Pronto. And I’ll be happy to update this blog post if you decide to do the right thing.

The ball’s in your court.


Steve Woodruff
Not-satisfied customer

(P.S. – in this new world of networking and social media, it’s really not a good idea to mess with customers, any one of whom might be a blogger. As of one hour after posting this, a Google search under the terms “Hackettstown Regional Medical Center” and “malpractice” brought up this post as the 2nd and 3rd search result…)

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After Hours 6_9

Getting paid to quit – a very interesting approach by a progressive company that is making some serious waves in the marketplace – Zappo’s will pay new hires a $1,000 bonus to quit! What’s that about??

Great wines for under 15 bucks.

Are you marketing to hostile tribes? Do red-painted folks shoot arrows at you? Time to think about new approaches (from my Stickyfigure marketing blog).

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Do you need Facilitation Skills Training? Call Impactiviti to discuss – we can provide you with targeted recommendations.

A great list of pharma-sales oriented articles: Jane Chin’s archive at PharmRepClinic.

Free download (limited time) from PharmaVoice: Redefining the Salesforce Landscape.

Identification of great training resources and networking are both critical to success in today’s evolving learning space. Impactiviti continues to be a valuable resource in bringing together both individuals and content expertise.” – Doug Willner, Vice President Sales Training & Development, MedImmune, Inc. (from the Impactiviti Testimonials page).

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Pretty neat on-line service – you can upload your Powerpoint presentations, and they will be converted for easy on-line viewing, either publicly accessible, or by-invite-only.

Slideshare.net. I uploaded a sample, which is a quickie overview on the 3 Main Methods of Outsourcing Projects to Vendors. See what you think!

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I’m frustrated. And so are a lot of others!

Pharma (with its highly regulated communications) is a Web 1.0 industry lagging behind a Web 2.0 world. The one-way, crafted, and filtered messaging that mark industries such as pharma means that there can be little participation in the conversational, participatory web.

Social media is changing marketing – the microphone is increasingly in the hands of ordinary people (as I put it in a recently-submitted chapter for a group-authored book), and the lightning-fast and exponentially-multiplied messaging that occurs via social media means that the control of the medium by professional communicators is decreasing rapidly.

But networked, evolving, and uncontrolled communications are the polar opposite of what pharma has to practice. Frustrating.

Here are some recent articles on this conundrum:

Why can’t Pharma move beyond Web 1.0?

Pharma says, What Social Network?

Social Networking sites for Cancer docs: Bang or Bust?

Will pharma be left behind? Will the discussion go on all around the marketplace, with industry players held captive to a “mute” button? Sure looks like it right now – what do you think?

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Fresh news from the ADA (American Diabetes Association):

Takeda’s alogliptin shows impressive results – Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd’s  experimental diabetes drug alogliptin significantly lowers blood sugar alone and in combination with other common therapies, according to research presented on Saturday…more More detailed data here.

Sanofi’s experimental injectable diabetes drug shows promise – An experimental injectable type 2 diabetes drug being developed by Sanofi-Aventis SA was well tolerated and significantly improved blood sugar control compared with a placebo, according to data presented on Saturday…more

Head-to-head study of Byetta with an experimental Novo drug…very interesting – Novo Nordisk’s experimental type 2 diabetes drug, liraglutide, was superior in controlling blood sugar in a clinical trial to Eli Lilly and Co and Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc’s Byetta, the Danish company said on Friday…more

Forbes.com has a bunch of follow-up articles growing out of the recent ASCO meeting:

:: Cancer Revolution, or Me-too Mess? Over the next decade, drug companies could either start selling more cancer drugs than at any time in history or face the biggest string of clinical failures ever…more

:: Cancer Drug Winners and LosersThe data presented at ASCO can have a huge impact both on the share prices of drug firms and on the long-term sales of their medicines. Here’s a roundup of the most important drug studies from the meeting and a look at how they will affect the companies involved…more

:: Novartis Steals the ShowNovartis is emerging as the surprise winner at this year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the year’s biggest cancer conference…more

:: Can Cancer Cure Pfizer?The recovery of Pfizer, the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company, rests largely on how well Nicholson, 53, can get cancer-fighting drugs out of its research labs and into doctors’ offices…more

:: And, if you want the real short-form bullet-point summary, here’s the high-level ASCO overview from Pharma Exec.

In other news….

Crestor Gaining Market Share – AstraZeneca Plc’s cholesterol drug Crestor is gaining market share in the highly competitive U.S. market, following recent encouraging data and problems faced by rival medicine Vytorin…more

Arthritis Drugs Cause Concern – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned American consumers on Wednesday that it is looking into side effects of a class of arthritis drugs that could cause cancer in children…more

Novartis Buying into Antibiotics – Novartis said it’s going to pay $100 million up front, plus as much as $300 million more, for Protez Pharmaceuticals. Protez makes PZ-601, an antibiotic in Phase II development against potentially fatal drug-resistant infections, including the MRSA and ESBL strains…more

Actelion: Who’s circling? -Big drugmakers want to do a deal with Switzerland’s Actelion Ltd — the question is will it be a $1 billion-plus drug marketing alliance or a $7 billion-plus takeover?…more (hat tip: Pharmagossip)

Sexual Harassment and Drug Reps: Watch your Steps, Folks: (from PharmaGossip) Workers at pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly may want to lay off the Cialis – a longtime saleswoman says she was canned after complaining about her boss’ sexist rants and the come-ons of her sales partner…more

Velcade: a cancer treatment with some potential for lupus? – Velcade, a drug used to treat cancer, might also work against the chronic autoimmune disease lupus, German researchers said on Sunday…more

And…here’s the weekly blog/news summary from Chris Truelove at PharmaLive.

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Find a Job!

A few things for you on the theme of job hunting, networking, etc.

> PharmaExec has an interesting article on how laid-off pharma folks are finding their next jobs.

> Did you know that 43% of laid-off pharma employees found new work through networking? (via John Mack)

> A prior post from the Impactiviti blog on the importance of networking; and, our unique Impactiviti pharma sales training Job Board.

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After Hours 6_2

The birth of a virus, recorded on film: very cool.

The best finishes in college sports history. Five videos. Full cup of coffee or lunch-at-desk required!

Send yourself reminders (scheduled in advance) via .txt message. Free service: ohdontforget

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