Another pharma on YouTube

Sanofi-aventis has joined other top pharma companies in launching a channel on YouTube to spruik its products – er, make that raise awareness of an important health issue. The channel, Go Insulin, includes seven video case studies of people who used insulin to overcome their diabetes issues, and links to a related website, As it says on the channel blurb, “Watch videos of real people as they talk about their struggles to achieve their blood sugar goals. Find out the difference insulin made for them.”

Disclosure: The author of this blog formerly worked in e-business and e-marketing at sanofi-aventis


Digital marketing push for pharma in 2009

From iMedia:

“The pharmaceutical industry is preparing to make a big push in the digital marketing space in 2009, according to a new survey from MarketBridge. Although the industry is largely behind the curve when it comes to digital marketing, nearly 45 percent of pharmaceutical executives made it clear that they need to better understand the opportunity, and more than a third said they’re not adequately organized to take advantage, ClickZ reports.

“Half of all those who responded to the ‘Digital Marketing in Pharma’ survey said less than 10 percent of their company’s marketing budget is allocated to digital. Moreover, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty among pharmaceutical companies about whether they can prove a substantial return on investment if they put more efforts into digital marketing.

“At least 72 percent of all respondents said they would be investing more in 2009, although that may be tempered somewhat by the recession. Partha Krishnamurthy, director of the University of Houston’s Institute for Health Care Marketing, suggests that large pharmaceutical companies face significant risk if they embrace Web 2.0. By its very nature, digital marketing will give consumers a louder voice in shaping a brand’s message, and those with the most negative experiences can easily rise to the top.”

Conference booth = advertising?

From BNET’s 10 weirdest drug stories of the month comes the following, originally reported by the Science Insider blog:

“Most scientific meetings don’t need bouncers. But a Novartis stand at the annual gathering of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene had two guards—just to keep away U.S. residents.

“The reason? The booth has information about Coartem, an anti-malarial drug sold by the tens of millions of doses in the developing world. As long as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet given its green light to Coartem (a decision is due on 26 December) the stand would constitute an advertisement for an unapproved drug, says Novartis’s Hans Rietveld—and that’s illegal.

“Reactions among conventioneers ranged from puzzled and amused to annoyed. But not to worry: The drug was also discussed during several scientific sessions.”

Pharma marketing in the toilet?

Pharma Marketing reports:

“Whenever I hear or read about pharmaceutical executives bragging about their product “pipelines” to Wall Street investors I think of the Alaska oil pipeline – a huge and imposing structure, carefully engineered to bring me a product I need and desire.

“I don’t think about bathroom drain pipes discharging waste that I want to get rid of. But that’s apparently how the editors of Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine see drug pipelines if the cover image of the latest, December 2008, issue is any guide.

“PE has chosen to represent a drug pipeline by the type of PVC drain pipes commonly seen under our bathroom sinks, complete with the U-shaped “sludge” trap and all.

“PE shows money flowing into its “pipeline” at one end and pills coming out the other.

“But we all know that with bathroom drains, it’s always garbage in, garbage out!

“Is there some kind of subliminal message that PE is sending here? ‘Money down the drain’ comes to mind!”

Patients embracing Web 2.0 / Health 2.0

The number of consumers in the US using Web 2.0 technologies in relation to health matters (dubbed ‘Health 2.0’) has doubled in the past year to 60 million people, according to a study just released by Manhattan Research.

Manhattan defines Health 2.0 consumers as people who have: 

  • read health-related blogs, message boards or participated in health-related chatrooms;
  • contributed or posted health content online such as: writing or commenting on a health-related blog, adding or responding to a topic in a forum or group, or creating health related web pages, videos or audio content; or
  • used online patient support groups, message boards, chatrooms, or blogs.

The report says, “Pharmaceutical marketers are catching on to the trends, but there’s a long way to go before brand media closes the gap between where consumers are and where budgets are going – only a small fraction of overall pharmaceutical advertising spend is currently allocated to online campaigns. But as we’re seeing with our clients, consumer trends are prompting marketers to put more weight behind digital strategies.”

“…. Social media is a powerful force impacting the pharmaceutical industry – whether or not brands choose to participate. Taking too conservative of an approach to a channel which thrives on two-way dialogue and open communication will undoubtedly distance brands from consumers – especially for those looking to reach the groups most engaged in Health 2.0. And even if brands aren’t yet ready participate in conversations, some sites sell aggregated data to pharmaceutical companies looking to understand the experiences and challenges that patients face.”

‘GPs rely on drug reps for info’ – is anyone surprised?

Choice has just published a survey saying that Australian general practitioners are reliant on pharmaceutical reps for much of the information they learn about new treatments, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

“Even though only 24 per cent of doctors trusted the information as much as an independent source, most (81 per cent) would rather receive it because it was often the only way to get timely information on new drugs,” the SMH reports.

“The survey of 180 doctors found that 73 per cent referred to pharmaceutical companies or their representatives for drug information. This made the companies the second-most important source for doctors after clinical evidence.

“Drug companies are the main source of information for 16 per cent of doctors when deciding whether to prescribe a new drug, the survey said.

“‘[Drug company marketing is] often the only way you get information about new drugs in a timely fashion,'” one doctor said.”

Unlike most media reports, which paint pharma companies as worse than tobacco companies, this report stresses that the main reason GPs rely so heavily on pharma companies is the lack of independent information available. Although there may be a difference between “lack of information” and “lack of knowledge of information”, as half of the GPs surveyed said they were not aware of the government-funded National Prescribing Service (NPS). Hmmm, maybe the government needs a national field force armed with brochures, pens and Post-it notes…

Diabetes sites rank top among pharma product web properties

Maureen Malloy, strategic marketing and corporate communications manager from Manhattan Research and one of my news sources, has sent me some preliminary data on Manhattan’s most recent physician marketing research. She writes:

Manhattan Research just released its annual Top Pharma Product Site list from the ePharma Physician® study.  Overview: Diabetes treatment brand sites from Januvia, Actos, Byetta, and Avandia are among the top pharmaceutical product websites in terms of primary care physician visitation

Top 10 Product Sites Visited by Physicians in 2008

Ranked by Number of U.S. Primary Care Physician Visitors

Position               Product  

    1.                          Januvia

    2.                          Actos

    3.                          Chantix

    4.                          Gardasil

    5.                          Actonel

    6.                          Vytorin

    7.                          Amitiza

    8.                          Byetta

    9.                          Avandia

   10.                         Aciphex


Quote: “This year’s rankings show that market events, rather than just advertising alone, can be critical drivers to brand websites,” points out Meredith Abreu Ressi, VP of Research at Manhattan Research. “Pharmaceutical companies need to ensure that brand websites contain the latest, most accurate content possible and can be found relatively easily by physicians using search engines to research pharmaceutical information.”

Source: ePharma Physician® v8.0 (2008)

More info is available at