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Archive for August, 2009

Novartis, following in the footsteps of several other pharmaceutical companies, has launched a YouTube channel. I think this is a good move for two main reasons:

    1. Even if pharma can’t take full advantage of social elements (immediate dialogue, free commenting, etc.) it is very important to put toes in the water and begin experimenting with these new channels of communication.
    2. The best hope for pharma in turning around its PR and perception challenges is to allow patient stories to be told.

And that’s what is going on here – patient stories. The production quality of the videos is high, and wisely, most of the videos thus far are just about a minute long – bite-sized and to the point. The videos end very simply with a screen with the Novartis company name.

NovYouTube450

Patient stories cover cancer, dengue fever, meningitis, and transplantation (so far). Novartis product names are not used in the videos; obviously, it is implied that these patients have been treated with Novartis products, but these are very low-key stories from a promotional perspective. As expected in a pharma YouTube channel like this, Ratings and Comments are disabled, which reflects the regulatory conundrum all communicators in this space must deal with.

Here is how the company describes itself and its on-line presence in the sidebar:

    At Novartis (NYSE: NVS), we seek to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to prevent and cure diseases, to ease suffering and to enhance the quality of life. Breakthrough medicines are our highest priority, and we offer a wide range of healthcare products in pharmaceuticals, vaccines, consumer health, generics, eye care and animal health.
    http://www.novartis.com
    http://www.thinkwhatspossible.com
    http://www.twitter.com/novartis
    Information and video content on this Novartis Channel is intended for general educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Novartis does not provide personalized medical diagnosis or patient-specific treatment advice. For any medical questions, seek the advice of your own medical doctor or qualified health care professional. Information on the approved uses of Novartis products may vary by country. Patients, physicians and other medical professionals should check with local medical resources and regulatory authorities for information appropriate to their country. Certain sections of this Channel may be restricted for audiences in certain countries or for certain kinds of expert users.
    © 2009 Novartis AG

Like CML Earth from Novartis, recently reviewed on this blog, the Novartis YouTube channel is a good start. It’s upbeat, puts a human face on disease treatment, and stays within safe parameters for pharma social media (which parameters are, alas, frustratingly narrow at this stage). I see no reason why all other pharma companies should not, at bare minimum, make use of on-line video as a way to get patient-centric messages out. A YouTube “broadcast” channel is a good place to begin in the use of social networking tools, even with restrictions on how much interactivity there can be.

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    TODAY’S NEWS

    Femara keeps breast cancer at bay better than tamoxifen – Novartis AG’s Femara prevented breast cancer from returning regardless of whether women took the drug for five years or switched to a less expensive, generic medication two years into the treatment, a study found. Initial results from the trial involving 4,922 patients found women who took Femara for five years were less likely to have the cancer return, particularly in another spot, than those who took only the generic drug tamoxifenmore

    Eli Lilly stops development of bone loss drug – Eli Lilly & Co. halted development of its experimental bone drug arzoxifene, once one of its most promising new treatments, after a study found it didn’t prevent nonspinal fractures and increased blood clots and hot flashesmore

    More good news for Avastin – Swiss-based Roche Holding AG said on Tuesday a study had showed its drug Avastin increased life expectancy for women with breast cancer without the disease getting worse, when used alongside common chemotherapiesmore

    GSK and Genmab – Arzerra results not so good – A clinical trial of Arzerra, a drug being developed by Danish biotechnology company Genmab and backed by Glaxo, had proven disappointing, Genmab management said yesterday. Among patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that were given a high dose of the drug, only 10pc saw their cancer shrink – a response rate far lower than expectedmore

    Eyedrops for Claritin and Zyrtec. Neither of which contain the ingredients in Claritin or Zyrtec. Hmmmm….

    RECOMMENDED

    Oncology training – some of my training partners specialize in training for oncology groups – product training, account management training, advanced selling skills, and much more. Contact me (stevew at impactiviti dot com, or phone at 973-947-7429) for some brainstorming and vendor recommendations to boost the performance of your oncology sales team.

    PLUS

    The No Drone Zone. Can you create a company of just top performers? See what Netflix has done (StickyFigure blog post).

    JUST FOR FUN

    I’ve got a baaaad feeling about this

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    NEWS

    One of Eli Lilly‘s patents on Gemzar invalidated; may shave off 3 years of exclusivity – the method of use patent for its cancer drug Gemzar was invalidated by a federal court in Michigan, the drugmaker said today…more

    Merck‘s Gardasil vaccine safe overall, though some questions about promotional practices – two researchers at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons reported that Merck wrongly got professional medical groups to help promote its vaccine through speakers who didn’t provide balanced recommendations concerning Gardasil’s risks and benefits…more

    Canadian study: GSK‘s Avandia does have more heart risks than Takeda‘s Actos – Researchers analyzed prescription data for 39,736 patients ages 66 and older who were enrolled in the Ontario Public Drug Benefit Program and began taking Avandia or Actos from April 2002 to March 2008. During the six-year study, 6.9 percent of patients on Avandia died or were hospitalized for a heart attack or heart failure, compared with 5.3 percent of those on Actos…more

    So – what about Key Account Management? Some thoughts from Pharmaceutical Executive.

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    Are you looking at social media applications, either in-house (enterprise communications) or outward-facing (marketing communications)? I can help, with strategy consultation and vendor/provider recommendations. Contact me (stevew at impactiviti dot com) and let’s talk! (In the meantime, download my free e-book, Getting Started with Social Networking)

    ePharma Review: My take on Novartis Oncology’s CML Earth. A very good start here for a social media platform; still room for improvement.

    PLUS

    Thought-provoking: People don’t Leave Organizations – They Leave Managers. AND – from my StickyFigure blog – Ask the Right Questions. Where you start determines where you end up…

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    Some months back, Novartis Oncology released a somewhat innovative social media platform (CML Earth) targeting the global leukemia audience (CML stands for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia). CML Earth is a way to connect with other patients, healthcare professionals, and groups.

    CMLEarthscreenshotmed

    I give it high marks for “coolness” – it’s a Flash-based application (eats lots of bandwidth, so it’ll work best in the more developed countries) with a global map that you can zoom in and out of and view in Satellite, Map, or Hybrid mode (if you’ve played with Google Earth, you’ll “get it” immediately).

    The main purpose of the site is to connect people – from the patient perspective, to be able to tell your story, and to find others who are similarly afflicted.

    CMLEarthscreenshot2med

    Kudos are also given for both clarity and ease of use. The brief (~1 minute) Take a Tour video took an interesting approach – no narration, just well-crafted screen shots showing the flow of how people can communicate with each other. It left the feeling that the site is simple and approachable – just what an Intro should do. And as you register, the User Guidelines are very simple and streamlined. Not overloaded with legalese. Privacy notice and consent have all the required verbiage that only a lawyer could love, but it’s not utterly overwhelming.

    Registration is very simple. You put in the basic demographic and contact information, and then you can choose (if you wish) to “Tell your Story.” This is a freeform text box which allows you to express what you’d like about your experience. Stories are to conform to guidelines and are reviewed/approved before posting. Apparently, in the early months of the app, the Tell your Story section had a bunch of drop-down boxes, with the end result that many of the stories currently on the site feel very stilted and non-engaging (although there was still a place for free-form text as well).

    When you’ve registered, you can go to the global view, which is populated with a bunch of dots representing others who have registered. Hovering over a dot, you get a basic glance, and then can click on to see more of the profile and read that person’s story. You can also give a virtual Hug, Smile, or High-five to that individual. If enabled in the settings, individuals may also receive e-mail messages.

    The section on Patient Groups is pretty bare bones – simple links to a small number of groups (by country) with basic contact info.

    The platform does support multiple global languages.

    I have mixed feelings about CML Earth. Putting on my Social Media Cheerleader hat, I applaud Novartis Oncology for the innovative and imaginative approach here. CML Earth is a mold-breaker, and it’s a neat use of technology, with very nice interface elements and an easy initial user experience. Every small step any pharma company takes to venture into the world of social networking is, on one level, a genuine victory. On the other hand, this site seems to me to lack depth or stickiness. There’s just not that much to do or find here, and I can’t imagine that it would create high levels of ongoing engagement. Like many of current generation of pharma social media efforts, it’s “a start.”

    Fabio Gratton over at IgniteBlog also has a helpful review (sourced from Kru Research) of CML Earth, written a couple months back (also see this review, just published by Bunny Ellerin).

    Let’s hope that we see more efforts like this, and perhaps en even richer CML Earth in the days to come. If you haven’t visited, it’s well worth taking a look.

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    NEWS

    Will Provenge take a big bite out of Taxotere? Provenge is an immunotherapy, meaning the vaccine stimulates the immune system to attack a specific target, in this case prostate cancer cells. It incorporates an antigen commonly found in prostate cancer cells as well as so-called antigen presenting cells obtained from the patient’s blood…more

    Forest teams up with AstraZeneca for promotion of new anti-infective – Forest’s late-stage drug Ceftaroline is meant for the treatment of complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI) as well as community-acquired bacterial pneumonia (CABP).The contract involves co-development and commercialization of the drug in all markets other than the U.S., Canada and Japan. With this deal, Forest will receive substantial funds from its partner through signing fee, royalties from sales and payments tied to certain specific sales milestones…more

    Whistleblower case against J&J (re: Procrit promotion) to proceed – Duxbury claims he sold $13 million of Procrit between 1992 through 1998, and that approximately 80 percent of those sales were “false or fraudulent claims for Medicare reimbursement.” McClennan sold more than $65 million of Procrit, and about 50 percent of his sales were fraudulent Medicare claims, he alleges…more

    The changing climate and practices at Henry Ford Hospital for drug reps. Would be surprised to see this as a template for others.

    From the Let’s See What the Future Holds files – blood pressure drug with efficacy for MS??

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    PLUS

    8 natural phenomena you probably didn’t know about. AND – from my StickyFigure blog – The Power of Inertia. Is “good enough” good enough?

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    Novartis gets FDA approval for MS drug Extavia. Extavia is essentially re-branded Betaseron, and marks the entry of a new (and large player) into the MS market. It’s Novartis’ MS pipeline that’s really interesting.

    Plus, FDA grants temporary approval for Protalix‘s Gaucher disease treatment. Genzyme’s woes means that a new source was needed stat.

    CSL Behring gets approval for Helixate FS (for children with hemophilia).

    Shire gets creative with some adult ADHD outreach/educational programs.

    And…this isn’t pharma at all. Just thought I’d toss in this quick blog post from this morning, on Successful Calls to Action (from my StickyFigure marketing blog). How did Chris Brogan and my dentist both make me take action?

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    Amgen gets approval for one (but not another) indication for their new bone drug – Food and Drug Administration experts unanimously voted that Amgen’s injectable drug denosumab helps prevent bone fractures in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. But panelists said the drug should only be used by patients who face the greatest risk of fractures. In a separate 12-3 vote, the panel ruled against using the drug as a preventive measure for women with low bone density…more

    Schering gets approval for new shizophrenia drug – Schering-Plough Corp. said Friday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Saphris tablets for acute treatment of schizophrenia in adults and acute treatment of manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder in adults. The pharmaceutical company said that Saphris is the first psychotropic drug to receive simultaneous initial approval for both indications…more

    King‘s Embeda is approved by FDA: may help counteract pain-pill abuse – The Food and Drug Administration cleared the extended- release morphine product, Embeda, the agency said today in an e- mail. Embeda contains a chemical designed to counteract the morphine if the capsule is crushed, chewed or dissolved in alcohol to get the full dose at once. The company said, and the FDA agreed, the evidence wasn’t conclusive that the chemical truly interfered with the morphine high. More here at the WSJ Health blog.

    Allergan‘s Latisse – maybe the new baldness treatment? Stay tuned!

    I like to stay on top of early-on encouraging oncology advances. Many don’t pan out, of course. But this sort of result is a nice glimmer!

    By the way…are you in need of a vendor/partner to help you develop specialty sales force training? Let me know and I can make a recommendation!

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