Archive for the ‘John Mack’ Category

I was in downtown Philadelphia earlier this week for the inaugural ePatient Connection 2009 conference, a first-time event by the relatively new Kru Research (headed up by Kevin Kruse). I’ve known Kevin for years through our mutual work in pharma training/eLearning, but this was his first venture into organizing a conference.

KruseKimballCount me impressed.

Unlike last week’s Digital Pharma conference, which took encouraging steps in the direction of a more “unconference” format (review here), ePatient Connection had a more traditional, structured format. But unlike others – and I’ve been to MANY over the years – it was fresh, interesting, and basically…it rocked. The two days each flew by quickly.

I’m not going to attempt a content overview – that has actually been nicely done by Eric Brody here. And PharmaExec on-line gives a nice quick scan here, including some of the juicier quotes. Suffice it to say that the speakers were diverse, knowledgeable, and well-chosen. I’m saving my two thumbs up for the following:

thumbsupThis event was tight. By that, I mean it was run incredibly efficiently and smoothly. Sessions started on time, ended on time, did not drag, and the speakers were clearly prepped with directions to keep it focused and well-structured. The audio/visual setup was one of the best I’ve seen, even to the point of having a photographer going about the entire time taking a tremendous variety of pictures (immediately uploaded to Flickr). The Wi-Fi was strong. There were outlets/extension cords along one entire side. There was a Twitterscreen. Sessions were captured on video. The attendee goodie bag was one of the best ever, including several books, and even an iPod Touch! There were standard presentations, panels, interviews, open forums, 1-on-1 sessions, and even a Pecha Kucha (20 slides, each for 20 seconds) slot. Vendors had a chance to briefly show their wares up front, which is a great way to give them exposure without turning sessions into sales pitches. All in all, other conference organizers could learn a lot from this freshman endeavor. Kudos to Kru & crew for pulling this off.

thumbsupThis event was well-targeted. It’s way past time to start bringing together people from the pharma/device industry, the ePatient community, and other stakeholders in healthcare. Hearing from bloggers with medical conditions, and getting their perspectives (not only on stage, but actively throughout the conference on Twitter), was both inspiring and enlightening. Folks on the business side and on the consumer/patient/people side need to better understand one another, and this was a very helpful format to move the dialogue forward. The fact that we had a late entrant show up from FDA/DDMAC (Paul Loebach, a really nice guy) was a huge bonus.

I had the privilege of co-facilitating, with Jack Bilson and John Mack, two lunchtime discussions on Developing Guidelines for Social Media. Those sessions could have gone on for hours – very rich interaction and a high level of interest among the participants. But, of course, everything was running on time (I told you it was tight!), so we had to move along by 1:45 pm!

It does seem to me, after the last few weeks, that we really have turned the corner when it comes to use of Twitter in pharma/healthcare industry conferences, as there was an incredibly active and informative Tweetstream (hashtag: #ePatCon). Many, many people were “tuned in” to parts of this conference from around the globe, and participating virtually. And, of course, we enjoyed social occasions and a tweetup, where many of the pharma “early adopters” renewed friendships or met each other for the first time – always very rewarding.

This event was an exhausting and exciting pleasure to be a part of. Looking forward to the sophomore edition!


Pharma Social Media resources: SocialRx

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Take a look at the screen shot below, from Pfizer’s homepage. Believe it or not, I, or anyone else, can now leave comments “on” any website (such as Pfizer.com) using a new tool (currently in beta) from Google, called Sidewiki.


Game-changer? You bet.

While the use of Google’s Sidewiki has ramifications across the entire web, for every type of site or industry, I’m going to focus here on the pharma industry. Because in pharma, it’s all about controlled messaging via corporate sites, and by and large, the idea of people being able to freely comment on (just about) anything is anathema.

The locus of control has just shifted. You can turn off comments on websites and blogs, but now, people can have their say, and the comments are accessible right there via Sidewiki when people come to your site.

How does this work? Google is not the first to try to allow user-generated commentary on any site, but they are certainly the biggest and most sophisticated. All you have to do is have a Google account, download the Google toolbar for your browser (currently IE and Firefox), and activate the Sidewiki capability. That’s it. More detailed explanations of how it works and how to get started are here and here.


I decided to go to fellow blogger John Mack’s site and leave a Sidewiki comment there (above). Now John allows (and welcomes) comments, of course, but with Sidewiki, that is irrelevant. And even for those sites where comments are reviewed before approval, Sidewiki allows commentary completely apart from the intervention or approval of the site owner.

How will this change the game with regulatory issues? Well, it’s a big monkey wrench. A pharmaceutical company already cannot control what people say about it, or its products, on various sites. But now people can express themselves with annotations that are, in essence, sidebarred on company sites! Can a company be held liable for, say, off-label discussions that happen on Sidewiki in association with a product site?

It’s a good thing that the FDA will hold hearings in November about the use of social media/Web 2.0 in pharma communications, because we now have a new issue to put on the table. How does industry and its regulatory bodies view user-generated content that cannot be controlled, yet exists in conjunction with company-sponsored sites?

Some question whether the adoption rate of Sidewiki will be significant enough to make a huge difference. It’s a fair question, but I don’t believe that’s the point. The really important thing is: the wall has been breached. I’m not sure there’s going to be any going back as this kind of (pretty much inevitable) approach evolves – it’s a Pandora’s box.

The rules of the game just changed again. There’s going to be a lot of mixed feelings about this one…

UPDATE: Fellow industry blogger Phil Baumann was thinking about the same theme today! Read his valuable thoughts. And Wendy Blackburn chimes in with some good input on what pharma can or cannot do about Sidewiki.

Want more on Pharma Social Media? Here’s the end-of-the-month roundup.


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Procter and Gamble to leave pharma? Procter & Gamble Co is working with Goldman Sachs Groupto identify potential buyers for its pharmaceuticals brands or find other ways to exit the business, people close to the matter said late on Wednesday, the Financial Times reported. Plus, Allergan the latest to announce job cuts.

Green tea blocks effectiveness of popular cancer drug. Wow. Contrary to popular assumptions about the health benefits of green tea, researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) have found that the widely used supplement renders a cancer drug used to treat multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma completely ineffective in treating cancer.

Novartis gets back to #1 with Managed Care Pharmacy Executives. Novartis’ rebound to No. 1 with pharmacy executives can be attributed to a big win in the area of value-added services, taking the top spot away from Pfizer. One pharmacy executive said, “Novartis has strongly responded to a previous deficiency in this area.” Pharmacy executives considered Novartis a leader in value-added services due in large part to its successful patient education materials and staff support.

PLUS – J&J and Social Media. A recap on the Eye on FDA blog. And – Pharma earning back trust – it’s a long post, but well worth the read. It ain’t just a PR problem, folks…from John Mack‘s Pharma Marketing blog.


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Blogging – according to Fard Johnmar, no longer niche.

The 2008 Patient Adherence Update – chock full of stats, charts, and other good stuff on a very important topic. From MedAd News.

Are free drug samples the last best hope for sales reps? An interesting take from a recent conference (though I have questions about the relative authority of the speakers). From John Mack’s Pharma Marketing blog.

Also from John Mack, Prescriptions and Recession.

Allergan: great marketing, less PhRMA code? What about that Botox marketing…?

On-line video growing in popularity among physicians. From Shwen Gwee.

Marc Monseau (from the J&J blog JNJ BTW) with some thoughts on pharma and social media. From Shwen Gwee.

Various Web 2.0/pharma thoughts and resources from Shwen Gwee.

An interview with Mark Senak, the EyeonFDA blogger.

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mcrost.jpgIt’s not quite yet official, and we were sworn to secrecy until this morning, but the rumor is now confirmed – John Mack, one of the grandfathers of pharma bloggers, and Peter Rost, designated bad-boy whistleblower and pharma blogger, have decided to turn their verbal swords into plowshares, unite egos, and become a single blogger. In a Freudian slip, the news of these 2 Egos becoming one Superego was allowed to leak before the new official ID was established.

Now blogging under the name J.P. MacRost, the two have become 1 expansive psyche of blogging bluster, threatening to overwhelm the entire pharma blogosphere with their combined fulminations, self-promotions, and appeals to readership numbers.

In fact, they are about to announce their new combined site, The Pharma Egosphere, where the new MacRost will continue to seek world domination through blogging bloviation.


“It was a natural fit,” stated the former Peter Rost, once a pharmaceutical executive and now a full-time self-promoter. “John had nothing to offer, and I’m the best, so it made sense for him to join forces with me. In this case, the whole may not be equal to the sum of its parts, but he is certainly getting the better end of the deal. Plus, I have hair.”

Mack seemed to concur. “When you get beneath all the bluster and blather, you realize that, at bottom, Peter’s a pretty sparse fellow. Certainly all the fame I’ve given him will be better served if I latch onto the coattails I’ve created and try to find some substance to add to the formula. I mean, how much talent does it take to blow a whistle? My nephew did that when he was two years old!”

Rost, in particular, noted the synergies inherent in the merger. “After releasing ‘Killer Drug’, my new novel now sinking to the bottom of the charts faster than a breached submarine staffed with a crew of ballast, it was clear that the pipeline was pretty barren. The new J.P. MacRost will at least have John’s marketing newsletter, so that I’ll have a vehicle to keep my – excuse me, our – name in front of people on a regular basis.”

Both parties denied that the recent mud-slinging going on between their former blogging identities was merely a tactic to drive up readership numbers in order to make the merger appear more attractive. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” declared Rost. “Except your ridiculous novel,” chimed in Mack, who seemed to have a limited appreciation for the flight of literary fancy recently published by his new alter ego. “What a futile exercise in pseudo-thriller writing. What’d you do, give a bucket of money to some anonymous med ed writer to create it, in between his duties of making off-label slides for your former employer?”

Other members of the former Pharma Blogosphere (now made nearly invisible by the supernova-like expansion of the Pharma Egosphere) were not so sanguine about the blockbuster merger announcement. “I think there may be some issues with hot air monopolization, perhaps even requiring the purchase of CO2 ‘offsets’,” complained John Thursday, an anonymous blogger in some obscure country outside of J.P. MacRost’s area of residency. “In order for this to go through, they may have to shed some overlapping areas of content, like posting bogus survey results, or slapping up pictures of Sweden on slow news days.”

“I’ll miss the way they continually roast each other,” declared Pharma Grills, known to skewer overly inflated bloggers himself from time to time. “Perhaps the Jekyll-Jekyll dual personality dissociative disorder that is inevitable in this type of merger will lead to bitter disagreements within the same post, which could be fairly amusing, as long as we don’t get any more theme songs about novels and the like. I do hope he – they – whatever – continue to post stuff about Switzerland, or wherever they’re from.”

PharmaFlawed, another one of those anonymous-type bloggers, even went so far as to question whether Swedish spinmeister Peter Rost ever existed. “I kinda figured he was a persona made up by that Mack fellow years ago – you know, a sort-of executive avatar. You know how some corporations set up shell companies? I mean, how hard is it to find some old-time Swedish ABBA fan to pose for a few pictures anyway. I think I even stumbled into a Rost look-alike in Second Life and he answered to the name of of ‘Mack.’ All I can say is, it’s real suspicious-like.”

blue-woman-sm.jpgThe scoop came from an anonymous blogging insider, June Dough, who e-mailed a juicy tip about the impending merger to Impactiviti and left some discarded blog posts hidden under a dumpster in Short Hills. June painted herself blue to disguise her real identity. (Impactiviti suspects that the “blue woman” may be a double agent, however – the Mack-Rost spin machine has been hyping this mysterious upcoming announcement for 2 days, trying to get maximum exposure for the leaked news…I’m feeling used!)

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