Saturday, June 30, 2007

Christiane Truelove of MedAdNews Says "Buy Our Space, Not Our Words"

Every Friday, I look forward to receiving my issue of Pharma Blogs: Week in Review written by Christiane Truelove, editor at MedAdNews (subscribe here). I like it because it often has excerpts from my favorite pharma bloggers, including myself!

This past Friday was no exception. Part of Truelove's newsletter that day was devoted to editorial vs. advertising practices of medical journals like JAMA -- an issue I first raised in my post "Pimp My Doc!" over at Pharma Marketing Blog.

Here's what Truelove had to say on the subject:

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog's Jacob Goldstein has posted an interview with Catherine DeAngelis, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association: "'No doctor should be on a speakers bureau — none, zero,' DeAngelis said yesterday when she came by Health Blog HQ for a chat. Just in case we didn't get the message, she added that she once said to a doctor who dodged a tough question during an industry-funded speech, 'Do you understand what prostituting yourself is? That's what you just did.'"

Mr. Goldstein writes, "How does DeAngelis reconcile her tough stance on drug information with the pharmaceutical ads that fill JAMA? She notes that ads don't run in the section of the journal where research studies appear, and says she routinely bars ads that she deems misleading: 'A couple weeks ago, the ad people came down and said, 'You know, you've cost us $750,000 this year because you've turned down ads.' I said, 'Is that all?'"

The latter statement was highlighted by John Mack of the Pharma Marketing Blog, who took the opportunity to illustrate the story in his own unique way. "This leads me to ask, how much money does JAMA and other medical journals make from pharma advertising if Catherine can shrug off $750,000 per offhand remark?" Mr. Mack says. "At what point does it become Kettle, Pot, calling each other black?"
It's nice to be quoted by Truelove, but what I really want to focus on is Truelove's own opinion on the subject, which she thankfully includes in her article:
I do wonder the same thing myself, yet as a trade magazine editor, I empathize with Dr. DeAngelis. In the final analysis, however, when it comes to advertisers, we should all be guided by Betsy Throckmorton, the newspaper editor in the journalistic novel Fast Copy: "They buy our space. They do not buy our words."
This last statement of editorial principle is worth continued discussion and debate in the Pharma Blogopshere, which is confronted with the same "church vs. state" issues faced by publications like JAMA and MedAdNews; namely, the influence of advertisers over editorial content.

It's interesting that this subject has been linked to CME, which I was the first to do, because pharmaceutical companies and physicians use the same "space vs. words" argument in defense of pharma-sponsored CME. Just as in medical journal publishing, there are "no strings attached" to pharma support of CME (see my "No Strings Attached" post to Pharma Marketing Blog).

In other words, "They Buy Our Space, Not Our Words" is equivalent to "No Strings Attached."

This cannot be true. There are always strings attached no matter what trickery you use to prove that there aren't any.

Say what you want Dr. DeAngelis, but if you keep losing $750,000 in advertising every time you criticize the pharmaceutical industry, some day, some one is going to notice and you will no longer be heard criticising the industry (at least not within JAMA). As Don Corleone said in the Godfather movie: "Someday - and that day may never come - I'll call upon you to do a service for me."

Actually, what really happens is advertisers don't give the publisher any more chances to provide THEM a service -- ie, provide ad space. [Sometimes, advertisers have no choice -- the publication reaches so many of their audience that it would be foolish to pull their ads from publications like JAMA.]

"Trade publications," whose mission is to promote the drug industry anyway, may feel the pressure from advertisers the most. As long as they continue to publish "rah rah" stories about the industry, sponsor industry awards, etc., they will will continue to receive the ads.

I've personally seen how advertisers influence content at trade publications when I was commissioned to write a piece for an un-named biotech publication. In the middle of the project, the editor called and cancelled the project for no good reason. He was apologetic and it was obvious that someone got back to him -- in a true Don Corleone manner -- about a previous article I wrote that was somewhat critical of biotech DTC advertising practices. It was clear that I would never write for that publication again.

Welcome to the world of trade publication!

What about pharma bloggers? For my part, I do not accept any advertising -- except for job notices and other types of "classified ads" -- on my blog (Pharma Marketing Blog) from pharmaceutical companies or from their big ad agencies that I often write about.
NOTE: Like many other bloggers, I run Google Adwords on my blog and other Web sites and these may include product advertising form pharma companies. However, I do not choose what ads are included in Adwords. Sometimes, I can filter out the ones I do not want -- eg, Lunesta adwords that I believe violate FDA regulations. But it's really impractical to monitor all the ads served and filter out all the unwanted ones.
Truthfully, I never had to enforce or even publish this policy because no pharma company has ever approached me to place their product or service or self-promotional ads on my blog! I wonder why not!

It's a fact of life for me that I will never attract these kinds of advertisers, although I know that at least 40% of my readers work for the pharmaceutical industry. I will just have to survive without the ads.

And JAMA could live without pharma advertising as well, if the following comment to my "Pimp My Doc!" post has any merit:
The Senate Committee on Aging, which met yesterday, heard testimony from, among others, Jerome Kassirer, a Tufts University professor who was once editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, pointed out that NEJM and JAMA could produce editorial publications WITHOUT the need for pharma advertising. The income derived from subscription and classified advertising was sufficient to publish these prestigious journals. Why then are they heavy on pharma-related content? Is this where the "pimping" starts?
Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Jim Edwards and the Girl Scout Cookie Monster Sudafed Mashup!

Recently, the Pharma Blogosphere has been awash boondoggles, capers, and scandals. First there was the Buckets of Cash Zubillaga Affair and the Cupcakes in the Waiting Room Caper, now there's the Girl Scout Cookie Monster Sudafed Mashup!

Jim Edwards of BrandweekNRX posted a correction of sorts to an article he wrote in BrandWeek a while back entitled "Who's at the Door? J&J With Your Meds." In that article, Jim said: "Johnson & Johnson wants to turn Girl Scout troops into 'drug dealers' - but it's all for a good cause."

This apparently, riled the J&J PR people according to Jim.

"To my surprise," claims Jim, "McNeil was furious, and I got an earful from one of their PR people about a day after it came out. 'We're not trying to turn Girl Scouts into drug dealers," they fumed. "We demand a correction.'"

You can read all about -- from Jim's perspective -- here on BrandweekNRX.

Of course, a "correction" is impossible after the cat is already out of the bag. Or should I say, cookie already out of the jar? Jim's piece was picked up by the press in stories entitled "Girl Scouts Selling Drugs?" And the rest, as they say, is history.

What Hat Are Journalist Bloggers Wearing Today?
Edwards says this is a "Lesson in How Media Viruses Work." Hmmm... it's also a lesson on how journalists can be "corrupted" by the loose standards of bloggers, IMHO. I mean, as a blogger, you might get away with using sensational or "flippant" phrases to capture readers' attention, but a journalist is held to a higher standard. In Brandweek, Jim is a journalist, in BrandweekNRX, he is a blogger. Could it be that he forgot which hat he was wearing when he wrote the original story?

BTW, there's nothing about this on JNJ BTW, J&J's PR blog, which I think is a shame. That's what a corporate blog should be for -- you got to get your voice out there in the blogosphere and not just let it come through filtered by us bloggers.

P.S. Proving once again that great minds think alike, Jack Friday just reminded me about his post on the J&J Girl Scout story. His post uses the same Girl Scout image as this one! I swear i did not intentionally copy Jack, but it must have registered in my mind when I picked up the image elsewhere by Google search. There is one important difference: Jack combined Pepsid with the cookies, whereas I used a decongestant. Obviously, Pepsid is a better product to use in combination with cookies, although I suppose if you are allergic to cookies, a decongestant might help.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Moore, You Magnificent Bastard! I Read Your "Book!" But Did You?

Michael Moore is giving PR lessons to would-be promoters of screenings of his new movie SiCKO. See his "Sponsor a 'SiCKO' Screening" Web page.

Here's one bit of advice offered there about "HOW TO GET PRESS":

When the press arrives at the event, make sure one person on your team greets each reporter and remains available for their requests.
Makes sense.

But let's compare this to how I was treated at my screening of SiCKO a couple of weeks ago in NYC (see "John Mack Finally Gets His SiCKO Screening: You Can Too!").

When I arrive, there is one person who merely checks my name off a list and hands me a couple of sheets of info. After the screening, when I would likely have a number of questions -- including "Where's the bathroom?" -- there's nobody there! I have to ask the projectionist who was startled that anyone would walk into the projection both and actually speak to him! In any case, he did give me the key code to the men's room.

I must say, I was impressed! NOT!

But I wrote the story anyway and you can read it in the June issue of Pharma Marketing News (subscription required; it's FREE!).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fard Johnmar Interviews John Mack on Bloggers and the Pharmaceutical Industry

Have you seen the HealthDot video commentary site?

If not, I suggest that you take a look first at the informative interview of John Mack (Pharma Marketing Blog) by Fard Johnmar (HealthcareVOX).

Although this interview was done back in April at the Healthcare Blogging Summit in Las Vegas, it is still very relevant today.

In the interview, Fard and I touch upon the credibility of pharma blogs, the effect of journalist bloggers, and the role that blogs can play in informing the industry.

View the video here.

Some Background on HealthDot.
As stated in the About page of the site:

HealthDot was created by ScribeMedia.Org as a non-partisan, informational and analytical multimedia publication that offers expert opinion on the future of the American health care industry. We do this from the perspective of three primary constituencies: Consumers, Providers, and Employers.

We bring together key players, report on their opinions, uncover current trends, and analyze the legislation that will affect it all.

The recent HealthDot Pharma Report 04 is very entertaining and covers the Avandia House Committee hearing, online pharma fraud, counterfeit drugs, Nigeria vs. Pfizer, and "erectile malfunction."

The latter topic includes the appearance of "Pharma Girl," who explains what priapism is. Pharma Girl is not related to "PhRMA Intern," whose latest adventure, "PhRMA Intern and the No-Strings-Attached CME Proof!", can be found here.

HealthDot does have an agenda, which is obvious from the following statements:
Politicians, academics and analysts from all political perspectives have come to the same conclusion: The US healthcare system is broken. They’ve fielded studies, issued reports, legislated, debated and spent millions lobbying for one change or another.

Still, the simple fact remains that the country has tens of millions of uninsured and underinsured, prohibitive costs for employers both large and small and byzantine rules, regulations, practices and processes that point to further systemic erosion over the next decade as 72 million baby boomers begin their retirements.

In the end, we aim for intelligent and informed debate as the country seeks solutions to a national crisis.
Perhaps Michael Moore is involved with these guys? Not that that's a bad thing!

Friday, June 22, 2007

'Round the Sphere: Oh! Oh! Check Out This New Alli Blog

Just when GSK thought it was safe to venture into the Pharma Blogosphere (see "'Round the Sphere: Pharmaco Blogs and Carlat's Crusade"), an alli death star is hot on its trail!

It's called "GSK alli Bollox". Posts to it are made anonymously by "by truthman30" who commented to me that it's "the unofficial alli blog..."

You should take a look at it soon because it may not survive for long, at least not at the current URL, which is ""

This seems a bit too close to "", which GSK uses for its blog, alliConnect (not to mention that "alliConnect" may be trademark).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

SiCKO Sneak Previews This Weekend!

Want to see SiCKO before its official release? Here's the 411 straight from Moore:


Would you like to go to a sneak preview of my new film, "Sicko," before it opens on June 29th? Well, if you live anywhere near the 32 cities listed below, this Saturday night, June 23rd, our movie studio is going to hold sneak screenings of "Sicko" in 43 theaters across the country. I'd love for you to be one of the first to see it so, if you'd like, you can click here and order tickets now. We'd love to see you there.

Also, if you live in the New York City area we are opening the film tomorrow (Friday, June 22) exclusively at one theater, the AMC Lincoln Square for a first week run. The interest in the film is very high and theaters have been asking us to open it as soon as possible. Alright, already! It opens tomorrow in NYC, the sneak previews are Saturday around the country, and we open nationwide next Friday, the 29th.

Last night we screened "Sicko" for the members of Congress and the Senate in Washington, D.C. Earlier in the day we testified during a briefing in Congress called by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. I brought with me some of the people who appear in the film to tell their stories -- and it was a powerful moment.

I will write again next week, before "Sicko" opens nationwide on the 29th. I'm so excited, after spending the last couple of years working on this film, that you all will finally be able to see it.

Michael Moore

P.S. Catch the sneak preview of "Sicko" in these cities this Saturday night, June 23rd:

Phoenix, AZ
Sacramento, CA
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Denver, CO
Washington, D.C.
Miami, FL
Tampa - St. Petersburg, FL
Atlanta, GA
Chicago, IL
Indianapolis, IN
Kansas City, KS
Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Detroit, MI
Flint, MI
Minneapolis - St. Paul, MN
St. Louis, MO
Las Vegas, NV
Albuquerque, NM
Albany, NY
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
Portland, OR
Philadelphia, PA
Pittsburgh, PA
Austin, TX
Dallas, TX
Houston, TX
Seattle, WA
Tacoma, WA
Milwaukee, WI

Order tickets online here.

Lobbyists Also Get No Popcorn at Their Screening of SiCKO

Michael Moore invited 900 healthcare lobbyists to a special screening of SiCKO in Washington, DC and only 11 showed up.

Could it be because SiCKO screenings don't include popcorn, soda, or even bottled water?

Said John Greene of the National Association of Health Underwriters: "I want to ask Mr. Moore, 'Where's the popcorn and soda?'" (See Washington Post article.)

I asked the same question when I attended a screening of SiCKO in NYC on June 7 (see "SiCKO is Boffo but Not Anti-Pharmaco, per se").

Could it be that the pharma lobbyists read my review and decided that a movie without food was as useful as a fish without a bicycle?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

'Round the Sphere: Pharmaco Blogs and Carlat's Crusade

Recently, two pharmaceutical company blogs have officially entered the Pharma Blogosphere: Johnson & Johnson's "JNJ BTW" and Glaxo's alliConnect. Also new to the Pharma Blogosphere is The Carlat Pschiatry Blog, which we will look at first.

The Carlat Pschiatry Blog
This blog was started by Daniel Carlat, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and Editor-in-Chief of The Carlat Psychiatry Report. Dr. Carlat gained some notoriety by writing a NY Times OpEd piece entitled "Diagnosis: Conflict of Interest" in which he characterized pharma-sponsored Continuing Medical education (CME) as "a new twist on that well-known instrument of corruption, money laundering" (for more on that, see "Welcome to the CME Laundomat!").

Carlat says he decided to start his blog "in order to follow up on some buzz generated by [his op-ed piece] in which [he] recommended that industry-sponsored CME activities no longer receive accreditation from the ACCME." He asks readers to join his crusade:

"If you have seen any examples of obvious commercial bias in educational activities, let me know. Together, we can sniff out the worst offenders, and report them to the ACCME, to the Senate Finance Committee, which released this report, and to whoever else has an interest in improving the ethics of medicine in America."
Dr. Carlat will be a guest on an upcoming Pharma Marketing Talk podcast where I will ask him if he's had any success in his crusade to date. Everyone is welcome to listen in on July 10, 2006 (more information here).

JNJ BTW is a corporate communications blog that was started up by our friend Marc Monseau, director of media relations at J&J. Recall that Marc reached out to several bloggers and invited several to dinner at a restaurant in NYC (see "Should Bloggers Dine at Pharma's Table?").

Why "BTW"? I don't know. Marc doesn't say.
BTW, results from a readers survey shed some light on pharma's penchant for wining and dining physicians as well as us bloggers. See charts below.
According to Marc's welcome message:
Everyone else is talking about our company, so why can’t we? There are more than 120,000 people who work for Johnson & Johnson and its operating companies. I’m one of them, and through JNJ BTW, I will try to find a voice that often gets lost in formal communications.

This is a big step for us as a company. Anyone working for a large corporation will appreciate that there are many internal limitations on what we say and how we say it.

I’ve been reading blogs for only a few months now, but already it’s clear to me how important it is not just to watch, but to join in productively. Doing that will take some unlearning of old habits and traditional approaches to communicating — and I will have to find my own voice.

On JNJ BTW, there will be talk about Johnson & Johnson — what we are doing, how we are doing it and why. There will be comment on the news about our company and the industry — occasionally correcting any mistakes (not that that ever happens!) or simply providing more context. I hope and expect that some of my colleagues will eventually join me on this blog.

We may not always be able to talk about product-specific issues, news from our operating companies or issues that fall under regulatory or legal constraints. But we’re going to do what we can to talk openly, directly and to the best of our knowledge. I’m sure we will learn more as we blog, so keep in mind that nothing on JNJ BTW is set in stone.
Although Marc has made relatively few posts so far, already he may have gotten in a bit over his head if the following comment is an indication:
marcus aurelius Says:
June 19th, 2007 at 7:45 pm

Just to clarify:

Other than the fact that both the Johnson & Johnson Co. and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) were both founded by Robert Wood Johnson, and current RWJF board members are former board members and/or executives of the Johnson & Johnson Company, and RWJF is the single largest private shareholder ($5.4 billion 2004) of J & J stock…..there is no connection.

Does that sound about right?
The comment did not address any remarks that Marc made on the blog. The author merely took Marc up on his willingness to fully disclose conflicts of interest and obviously has a bone to pick with J&J over its control of the RWJF.

Comments Policy
Here's a synopsis of JNJ BTW's policy on comments:
All comments will be reviewed before posting. Since this blog is about Johnson & Johnson, comments that don't directly relate to the Company or to topics covered on this blog won't be posted [Marc, you shouldn't have posted that comment by marcus aurelius!]. That said, some comments may be forwarded to other people within the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies for follow-up as appropriate.

We generally won’t post comments about products that are sold by the Johnson & Johnson operating companies.

...comments that pertain to ongoing legal matters or regulatory issues are unlikely to be posted.
alliConnect is GlaxoSmithKline's official corporate blog for alli. According to the about statement, "It's a place for you to have a conversation with us about weight loss issues." It does warn visitors, however, that there are a few rules: "Because we work for a drug company we do have to abide by a few rules."

OK, I'll bite. Let's look at the rules. The "Legal Stuff" started out short and to the point:
"This blog is written by employees of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare who are authorized to speak on behalf of the company.

Our posts and answers to your comments reflect our company's point of view. They are based on the latest in science and what we've learned from talking to consumers.

When we offer personal points of views, or talk about our experience with alli, we'll make sure that's clear."
Interestingly, I noticed a few comments made by other members of the Pharma Blogosphere, such as Jack Friday of PharmaGossip, who had this to say:
Hey guys,

Welcome to the blogosphere.

My guess, Steve, is that you are excited about the early sales peak but are now scared that you may have underplayed the "treatment effects" - hence all the "oops" references on the blog as you try and mentally compensate.

Add to this the $150 million spend and...... well anyone would have an oops moment or two!

The blog idea is a good one.

Unfortunately, there was no response from "The Alli first team."

John Mack Quoted in Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine!

I love Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine! I especially like it when they quote me as they did in this month's (June 2007) issue. You'll find me quoted in the article "A Dream Campaign: Takeda's Rozerem ads aren't just fun. They're a new paradigm for insomnia treatment."

The PharmExec article quotes me as saying "While the company is doing a slow buildup, the sales are doing a slow burn." I still stand by that even though Chris Benecchi -- product director for Rozerem marketing -- "claims that the slow build was the plan all along."

But sales of Rozerem are dismal for a product that is ranked #10 in DTC spending for 2006 and I have the data to prove it (nicely plotted in a pie chart).

What galls me are all the articles written in trade publications and the press touting how great the Rozerem campaign is and all the accolades heaped upon the agencies involved.

No one with any pharma industry publishing authority is admitting that the emperor has no clothes. Why is that?

To find out why and get your hands on some sleep aid sales data, read my post to Pharma Marketing Blog: "Rozerem DTC Ads: New Paradigm or Paradox?"

P.S. Needless to say, my blog visits spiked on Monday after the latest issue of Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine "hit the stands." This is a testament to the power of publications like PE. It is a shame, however, that PE and other mainstream publications may be unduly influenced by advertising to such an extent that they cannot pull the wool AWAY from our eyes.

I guess that's why blogs like Pharma Marketing Blog and others in the Pharma Blogosphere are growing in popularity, especially among industry insiders.

An ongoing Pharma Marketing Blog reader survey reveals that over 40% of my readers are employed in the pharmaceutical industry and over 60% of readers are somewhat or very supportive of the drug industry. Keep in mind that the general Pharma Blogosphere Reader Survey characterized Pharma Marketing Blog as "critical" of the industry.

This speaks to the fact that many pharmaceutical people who support the industry would like to read something critical of the industry. Perhaps they learn more from critics than form industry cheerleaders?

Frankly, I think PE (and other industry publications -- I do not want to single out PE) should devote some space in their publication to contrarian views in order to stir the pot!

Dear PE Editor: I am available to write such a column for your publication.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

John Mack and Agnes Shanley Team Up at Healthcare Blogging & Social Media Summit 2007 (Fall)

Agnes Shanley, a voice of On Pharma blog, and John Mack, author of Pharma Marketing Blog, will be sharing a dais at the Healthcare Blogging & Social Media Summit 2007 (Fall) organized by Dmitriy Kruglyak of TrustedMD.

We will be speaking on the topic of trends in the realm of pharma and medical device blogging (see below).

I am looking forward to finally meeting Agnes after exchanging some pleasant private emails with her not too long ago (which I am not going to reveal here!).

Here are the program details. Hope to see you in Chicago in September!

  • WHAT: Healthcare's Premier Conference on Blogs & Social Media
  • WHEN: September 17/18, 2007 (Monday/Tuesday)
  • WHERE: The Chicago Hilton, in Chicago, IL, co-located at Consumer Health World
  • WHO: Trusted.MD Network, Transmarx, leaders of new and traditional healthcare media (see below) and YOU
  • WHY: Network and learn how to benefit from the new horizons opened by the healthcare blogging and social media

  • COST: Early$349 (before 06/30), Regular $399 (before 08/24), Late $499

We expect to launch a significant site update leading up the conference. Register for an account and sign up for newsletters to not miss any news.

Now, here is the program for our 3rd Summit:

Healthcare Blogging & Social Media Summit is day and a half conference for people who want to deploy blogging and social media on behalf of their companies and brands. We begin with basics, first dispelling the common myths. Have you been told that “blogs and social media are not important”, “too risky for healthcare organizations” and “we are afraid of losing control of our message”? Do not get blindsided by 20th century thinking and start learning about the brand issues that must precede blog and social media engagement.

The sessions will cover why this form of communication is taking off; how quickly it can damage a brand's reputation if left unanswered; the continuum between control and trust; how to create a blogger relations program; the best practices for establishing your own blog; how to enlist others to your cause; and how blogging has helped the consumer health movement.

Whether you represent a hospital, a health plan, a physician group, a pharmaceutical or medical device company, do not miss the fundamental transformation in health media and join us in Chicago on September 17-18. Learn how your peers harnessed the opportunities presented by the new media. Recognize and avoid the common pitfalls. Meet new citizen thought leaders whose growing influence is redefining healthcare marketing as we know it.

Sessions and speakers include (current as of 06/10/07):

MONDAY: September 17, 2007, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

9:00 – 9:50 (Keynote) THE IMPACT: New Media Technologies in Health and Care
What will be the magnitude of change brought about by blogs and social media? One of the top health media authorities provides a 30,000 feet overview of what is to come

10:00 – 10:50 (Panel) MYTHS vs. REALITY: From Social Media to People Powered Health(care)
Does the buzzword blizzard make your head spin? New health media concepts can be confusing and the panel offers yardsticks for telling between true trends and misleading hype.

11:00 – 11:50 (Panel) OPEN BRANDS: Trading Message Control for Consumer’s Trust
The challenge: Consumers have more power than ever to affect your reputation online. The opportunity: Engaging their creative forces can build positive buzz. Learn the do’s and don’ts.

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch

1:00 – 3:00 (Workshop) READY, SET, BLOG: The Nuts and Bolts of a Social Media Project
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The hardest part is getting started and the top social media consultants are here to give you a walk-through. Let’s go!

3:00 – 4:00 (Panel) HELPING HAND: Social Media as a Platform for eHealth Applications
Social media is more than media; it is starting to blur the line between publications and applications. How can these new interactive technologies improve health service delivery?

TUESDAY: September 18, 2007, 9:40 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

9:40 – 10:30 (Spotlight) HOSPITALS & PROVIDERS: Trends, Strategies & Case Studies
What are the unique opportunities and challenges of social media for hospitals and other healthcare providers? Learn from the panel of leading practitioners.

10:40 – 11:30 (Spotlight) PHARMA & MEDICAL DEVICES: Trends, Strategies & Case Studies
What are the unique opportunities and challenges of social media for pharma and medical device brands? Learn from the panel of leading practitioners.

11:40 – 12:30 (Spotlight) WELLNESS & LIFESTYLE: Trends, Strategies & Case Studies
What are the unique opportunities and challenges of social media for wellness, fitness and lifestyle brands? Learn from the panel of leading practitioners.

  • John Bell, Managing Director/Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy PR; Creator of Ogilvy's 360° Digital Influence practice which manages brands in the age of social media
  • Margaret Moore, CEO, Wellcoaches

We hope you will join us in Chicago, IL on September 17/18 and we are always happy to hear from you in the meantime:

Friday, June 15, 2007

DrugWanks Pull Post

Soon after I posted my diatribe against DrugWonks and their cowardly bullying tactics, Insider weighed in with the image at the left and declared that he will refer to them as "DrugWanks" from now on!

For us non-Brits, here's the Wikipedia 411 on "wanker":

Wanker is a pejorative term of British origin, common in Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and gaining usage in Canada and the United States. It initially referred to "one who masturbates" but has since become a general insult. It is synonymous with tosser, toss-pot and tossing it off (commonly meaning wasting time - usually when at work). In parts of the UK the word 'tosser' and it's other forms have become so widespread that it isn't generally regarded as a swear word and is socially acceptable in general conversation.

I think I'll stick with the pejorative, please.

Insider also pointed out the poor spelling ability of these wankers:

By the way guys..... if you are going to wank over Big Pharma's offerings, try and get the spelling right.

It's Acomplia........ with one "c"!
If only that were the worst case!

Maybe it was the bad spelling, or maybe someone higher up in the PR food chain gave Wanker Goldberg a call, I don't know. What I do know is that you will no longer find the offending "wanker rant" entitled "What an Overweight Director Who Didn't Give His Own Employees Health Insurance Didn't Tell Us About US Health Care" on the DrugWanks site unless you specifically know what URL to paste into your browser (click here) and that might not be working much longer! If you go to the main page directly, you won't find the post!

Goldberg's post not only criticised Michael Moore, who is probably laughing all the way to the bank over it, but Goldberg -- coward that he is -- bad-mouthed Jim Edwards (see my post about that here).

So, from now on, I will follow Insider's lead and refer to these PR Wonks as DrugWanks and they shall be banned forever to the Outer Sphere of the Pharma Blogosphere!

BTW, this is the DrugWanks post in its entirety, just case the link above no longer works (click on the image to enlarge it and read):

Wonks LOL YouTube Effort!

Turns out that Drug Wonks are not even very good PR Wonks.

Here's their latest YouTube video effort to discredit Michael Moore. They ask people on the street (in a park, actually) "Would you trust your healthcare to Michael Moore?"

Well, no! Duh!

What's funny about this is, at one point, they ask the question of some guy sitting in a tree! Like that's the kind of person whose opinion I should listen to!

Wonks Bitch Slap Jim Edwards: Are We Going to Let Them Get Away with It?

Yesterday I mentioned Jim Edwards' post regarding Drug Wonks Demonization of Michael Moore. Jim used his personal experience to get an MRI as support for his thesis that the Wonks' cause is lost.

Now chief bully wonker Robert Goldberg is trying to sling mud at Jim and the rest of bloggers who share his view with insults like this:

"For the record, drugwonks aims to be the truth dectector [sic; LOL] for Moore's propaganda film Sicko. That is the least we can do for thos (sic) Kool-Aid drinking bloggers who blindly follow a guy who denied health care coverage to his employees when he was producer of TV nation."

Let's see. TV Nation was produced when? Is this relevant now? Should we listen to anyone who cannot even use a spell checker!

"Now some have nothing better to do than price MRIs."

"Oh, and the MRI? Use it to a conduct a more careful analysis of your own sloppy arguments in defense of hypocritical and overweight directors."

Goldberg is a coward! He won't dare say that to Jim's face by naming him in his blog! or at least linking to Jim's post.

No, Drug Wonks never links out to the "enemy" Kool-Aid drinking bloggers!

Cowards! PR Wonks!

I note that all the invective aimed at Moore and his movie is based on what the Wonks have seen in movie trailers and on Oprah. They don't have the nerve to see the film they are criticizing and must constantly stoop to calling people names!

Cowards! PR Wankers!

Introducing's TOP 100 Healthcare Blogs! quietly launched it's TOP 100 Healthcare Blog list! Now we have a new way to learn which blogs deliver the best value to readers other than my controversial, unscientific reader survey I did a while back (get your free summary of the survey results here).

Several blogs from the Pharma Blogosphere have made the list, including

  • In the Pipeline (#4)
  • Pharma Marketing Blog (#11)
  • PharmaGossip (#19)
  • Question Authority (#24)
  • Clin Psych Blog (#50)
  • Eye On FDA (#54)
  • On Pharma (#74)
  • eDrugSearch (#87)
  • Orange Book Blog (#98)
  • BrandweekNRX (#99)
  • Pharma's Cutting Edge (#100)
How is this listed compiled? According to the Learn the Algorithm page:

The Healthcare 100 is a global ranking of the top English-language healthcare blogs, inspired by Todd Andrlik’s popular Power 150, a list of the top English-language marketing blogs.

Our goal is to provide both bloggers and blog readers interested in all aspects of healthcare with a simple way to find the most influential blogs. We rank each blog’s influence based on a multimetric algorithm, also inspired by the Power 150.

Ranks are based on a combination of four sources:
  1. Google PageRank
  2. Bloglines Subscribers
  3. Technorati Authority Ranking
  4. Points
Rankings are automated and updated frequently, with the date of the most recent update posted under the Healthcare 100 heading.

Cary Byrd is the mastermind behind this (learn more about Cary by listening this Pharma Marketing Talk podcast).

Notably absent from the list are several excellent Pharma Blogosphere blogs, including Pharmalot, which was recently recognized as one of The 50 Best Business Blogs by The Times of London. Maybe Ed has to add his blog manually here in order to get on the list, although I can't imagine that Cary would have neglected to do that in the first place!

Of course, all these rankings -- whether by reader survey, non-objective lists by journalists, or supposedly unbiased lists like the TOP 100 based on the wisdom of the crowds -- are flawed in one way or another.

P.S. Drug Wonks -- currently the "bad boy" of the Pharma Blogosphere (see 'Round the Sphere: Dirty Tightie Whities and Wailing on Wonks!) received "Honorable Mention) as #122 on the extended list.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

'Round the Sphere: Dirty Tightie Whities and Wailing on Wonks!

Pretty soon I'm off to my son's high school graduation and there's no time to start anything productive, so I'll just make this quick post about what has caught my attention this week 'round the old Pharma Blogosphere.

First those Tightie Whities
Aside from being recognized as one of The 50 Best Business Blogs by The Times of London, Pharmalot is also recognized -- at least by me -- for sporting a great new look and crisp little graphics. I especially like the dirty tightie whities Ed Silverman used to illustrate a recent post about the problems faced by Acomplia (aka Zimulti).

Ed suggests that we invest in underwear makers. I would point out, however, that most underwear makers are in China or India and run sweatshops. Based on a recent report --- see "Drugmakers Need New Business Model" -- many pharmaceutical companies may need to offshore their business as well if they are to remain viable. "Companies must expand their pipelines by looking to countries such as India and China, where research is burgeoning, and the industry must redesign the drug development process," the report said.

Wailing on Wonks
Meanwhile, the PR Wonks at Drug Wonks are being wailed on from the left and from the right and all over the place! The funny thing is, I pointed out the Wonks conflicts of interest way back in February (see "Drug Wonks are PR Wonks"), but that tree falling in the forest made no sound.

Now you can't swing a Kitty without hitting a post dissing Pitts and or Goldberg, the 2 most prolific drug Wonks. I think CL Psych started it with the post "Welcome to the PR Machine." Since then, others have taken up the clarion call.

Most recently, Jim Edwards over at BrandweekNRX Wailed on Wonks for their attacks on Moore (see "Why DrugWonks' Campaign to Demonize Michael Moore Will Fail"). But there's much more to Jim's post than anti-Drug Wonkisms. He actually is making a point about our health insurance industry that Moore never even touched on! Read it and weep.

Peter Rost over at Question Authority went so far as to ask "Is Big Pharma Secretly Taking Over the Blog World?" It may be less of a conspiracy theory than it sounds. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal profiled a company that can improve your reputation on the Web. One method -- drown out the bad stuff with counter-content that says you're a saint! By the looks of pharmagather, that seems to be the methodology employed by Drug Wonks, which makes one small post after another all day long. Of course, Pharmalot does the same thing, so I guess one balances the other!

PhRMA Jumps on Michael Moore's Bandwagon to Tout It's Own Programs!

Poor PhRMA -- that great pharmaceutical trade association, which fights a never ending battle for believability, justice for pharmaceutical companies, and the PhRMA way! -- it so desperately needed Michael Moore to focus on the industry in his new film SiCKO that when Moore declined to take the bait (see "SiCKO is Boffo but Not Anti-Pharmaco, per se"), PhRMA is left without a whipping boy!

But that hasn't stopped PhRMA Exec VP Ken Johnson from making hay without a pitch fork as it were.

Take a look at PhRMA's "Statement on Michael Moore’s Documentary". As far as commentary on the documentary, this is just a rehash of what Ken has been saying for months, nay, years!

He starts out nicely enough with faint praise that raises our hopes for the ultimate put down sure to follow:

"Michael Moore is a very talented filmmaker, but a review of America’s health care system should be balanced, thoughtful and well-researched to pin down what works and what needs to be improved. Unfortunately, you won’t get that from Michael Moore."
Great! What's your argument in support of this accusation?

Sadly, Ken just uses that as an introduction to PhRMA's own propaganda about SCHIP and PPA. Ken laments the fact that Moore didn't even mention these programs in his movie! Boo hoo! And he also didn't mention my blog, but you don't see me crying!

Ken should have critiqued the "facts" that were actually presented in the movie rather than cry over the facts that were not included. After all, Ken did have a Hollywood "friend" give him some "pretty good blow (by blow)" (see that story here).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Got Advergame?

Can you solve this rebus? Back story here.

This rebus does not necessarily reflect conventional wisdom. It is intended for gag purposes only and does not address any personal opinions of the Mirapex "give Your Legs a Rest" advergame. It is not a substitute for professional promotion, DTC advertising or "advergaming." Never ignore professional medical communications advice in seeking market share because of something you have read on this blog. If you think you may have an online promotion emergency, immediately call 215-504-4164 or 888-285-5744(8).

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cafe Pharma's Sarah Palmer Tames Boogalou Shrimp

Occasionally, I visit the Cafe Pharma discussion boards to see what's going on. But, frankly, after a nasty run-in with a few anonymous posters there -- see "Banned from CafePharma!" -- I haven't visited too often or dared to post anything under my own name.

Since then, I have exchanged a few friendly emails back and forth with Sarah Palmer who is the administrator of the site. Zookeeper or Animal Tamer may be more appropriate titles.

Last month, Sarah apparently banned a Cafe Pharma member who went under the pseudonym "Boogalou Shrimp." As I noted in a post made by Jane Chin on her Pharma Rep Clinic blog, "In his/her online profile, Boogalou Shrimp says his/her interests are 'Leg humping.' Since joining on 11 September 2006, Boogalou Shrimp has made 3,212 posts to CafePharma; an average of more than one post per hour, 24/7."

Boogalou Shrimp tried to win over people with posts like this: "Is John Mack an asshat or a fagbot? I can't decide?"

But Boogalou wouldn't be banned for something so innane as that. Yet, Sarah won't say why this person was banned. The following Cafe Pharma thread documents the banning:

I'll ask the question everyone wants to know
Why was Boogalou Shrimp banned?

What's the deal. Sarah? You provided a damning case against Clem, the Black genocide agonist. The litany of Clem's rantings that you posted put his apologists in their place, thus shutting them up.

Now the Shrimp's been banned.

Let's see "your evidence" that you have compiled on Shrimp.

Sorry, but we cannot always divulge the reasons why posters are banned. There is no single reason in this case. The "final straw" had nothing to do with anything on the Political Discussions board. I'm sure he knows very well why he was banned. --Sarah Palmer

But certainly you can cite generalities for your decision, right? What "posting policy" did he violate? You don't have to be specific, here.

In his defense, he did a damn good job of fending off the calvary of white racists that stink up the political boards on a daily basis.

"The "final straw" had nothing to do with anything on the Political Discussions board."

Again, can't you share generalities?

"I'm sure he knows very well why he was banned."

Did he threaten to kill someone? I never saw a pattern of rule breaking with him. Maybe he melted down after having a few too many. Shit happens, ya know.

Sarah you lost all my respect. You must be kidding me...can't give the reason? I'm also black like shrimp and am consistently attacked on your site by racist. Why don't you do something about that?...or did you decide it's better to ban the black guy so the bigot's don't have a target? The latter is the only plausible reason I can think of and that's why you won't give a reason. You're just as bad as the bigots!

Whatever. It's so funny...I get accused of being a flaming liberal by some, a bigot by others. Some have said I am black, and now I have a cold blue eye
I'm just running a site with very busy message boards, where we have to make many daily decisions on how to make the boards the most usable for our visitors. I can assure you this - Boogalou Shrimp was not banned because of his race, or even because of anything having to do with racial/political discussions, race baiting, etc. You of course may believe as you want to believe, but don't expect me to answer your continued ranting when you have already been given your answer several times. --Sarah
See what I mean about "zookeeper" or "animal tamer" being more accurate descriptions of Sarah's job?

There are over 14,000 registered Cafe Pharma members, of which as many as 1,100 may be online at the same time. The site currently hosts nearly 150,000 threads and over 1.5 million posts!

Whatever we call Sarah's job, I don't envy her. Sarah, I am sorry I argued with you in the past about your administrative decisions. Keep up the good work and ban away!

PhRMA Intern Returns!

Yes, it's PhRMA Intern! Strange visitor from an Ivy League school who came to PhRMA with powers and ability far beyond those of Ken Johnson.

PhRMA Intern! Who can change the course of mighty news stories, bend the truth at will, and who disguised as Emily Jameson (no relation to Jenna Jameson), mild-mannered intern for a great pharmaceutical trade association, fights a never ending battle for believability, justice for pharmaceutical companies, and the PhRMA way!

Check out: The Adventure of PhRMA Intern and the Hollywood Mogul! An Offer that Cannot be Refused!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

'Round the Sphere: SiCKO Spies, Panama Hats, Blog Burnout

Peter Rost -- one of the biggest stars in the Pharma Blogosphere firmament -- promises to make panama hats popular again! See his post here.

It appears, however, that these hats are already popular amongst Chippendale male dancers -- that's one shown on the left (not Dr. Rost!).

The issue of panama hats arose after Rost showed up last week in sunglasses and a panama hat for a friendly lunch with Jim Edwards of BrandweekNRX. They met at a trendy Italian restaurant in Milburn, NJ, if such a thing is possible (not that I have anything against NJ; some of my best friends live and fish in NJ; please, no comments accusing me of being an anti-Jerseyite!).

Bigger news came out of that meeting than what kind of hat men should wear. It appears that I soon won't have Jim to kick around anymore on the issue of mandatory Gardasil inoculations -- a topic we tussled over some time ago.

Jim announced he is leaving Brandweek in August to become a Knight Bagehot fellow at Columbia. This "sweet deal" includes full tuition and a living stipend of $50,000.

Good luck Jim!

On another front, Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth and blogger extraordinaire at In the Pipeline, announced that he will be moving to Boston for a new job! Derek would like to hear from readers with personal experience with the towns, schools (and roads!) of that part of Massachusetts.

It's obvious, although not mentioned by Derek, that after June, when he starts his new job, he may have little time to devote to blogging. And thus another shining star in the Pharma Blogosphere may dim. Good luck to Derek as well!

We Lose 40% of the Top-Rated Bloggers!
Thus 2 of the 5 "top rated" blogs in the Pharma Blogosphere, which includes In the Pipeline, Pharmalot, BrandweekNRX, PharmaGossip, and Pharma Marketing Blog (see "Survey Finds Blogs Critical of Drug Industry Are Most Credible"), will soon fade to black.

So, within the last 6 months we saw an explosion of new entrants into the Pharma Blogosphere and now somewhat of a collapse.

That's the way things are.

SiCKO PhRMA Spygate!
Meanwhile, life -- such as it is -- in the Pharma Blogosphere trundles on.

We've seen "Buckets of Cash" ZubeGate and AstraZeneca's Cupcake Capers. Now a new controversy is brewing involving Michael Moore's movie SiCKO, PhRMA, and a mysterious movie mogul "friend" of PhRMA's executive VP.

I first reported on this in Pharma Marketing Blog: "PhRMA Sent SiCKO Spy to Cannes".

Subsequent to that, Ed Silverman at Pharmalot received a phone call from Ken Johnson -- the PhRMA VP in question -- who claimed that a hollywood "friend" just happened to be in Cannes at the opening of SiCKO and gave Ken "some pretty good blow...", err, I mean "blow-by-blow" (see "PhRMA: We Didn’t Send A Spy To Cannes!").

What Ken failed to mention, however, was the role played by a certain PhRMA Intern in soliciting this favor from a Hollywood movie mogul -- see tomorrow's post to Pharma Marketing Blog for the full story of this exciting Spy-vs-SiCKO sitcom!

BTW, you can read a review of SiCKO by the only pharma blogger to actually see the entire movie here!

Friday, June 8, 2007

John Mack Finally Gets His SiCKO Screening: You Can Too!

While the pharmaceutical industry is part of Michael Moore's -- and many other people's -- "Axis of Evil" consisting of pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and insurance companies, he does cut the industry some slack in his new movie "SiCKO," which I saw yesterday at a special screening in New York City. Pharma is merely a "necessary evil," whereas insurance companies are just not necessary at all -- at least the for-profit insurance industry.

For more of my review of the movie SiCKO, see "SiCKO is Boffo but Not Anti-Pharmaco, per se".

For my fellow bloggers in the Pharma Blogosphere who haven't seen the movie yet, but wish to do so, I suggest they contact Sara Finmann Serlen (in NYC) at 646-862-3812, and ask her for an invite to the one of the next screening in NY, which I believe is June 11 and June15. If you are locate elsewhere, ask her who to call for a screening near you.

If you read my review, you'll see why I believe that pharma bloggers may not be high priority PR targets for the producers. But, hey, it's worth a shot.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

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I'm Off to SiCKO Screening in NYC!

Finally! I received an invitation from the producers of SiCKO to a press screening of Michael Moore's documentary! The screening is today in New York City. I am leaving right now!

I'm not sure who else from the Pharma BlogosphereTM has been invited. I guess I'll find out when I get there.

Hopefully, if all goes well, I will have some photos and a report tomorrow.

See my review here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Pre-Release Screenings of SiCKO for Bloggers

I don't know about you, but unlike the folks over at Drug Wonks and PhRMA (Ken Johnson said: "A review of America's healthcare system should be balanced, thoughtful, and well-researched to pin down what works and what needs to be improved. You won't get that from Michael Moore."), I refuse to criticize or praise something I have not seen. It was that way with Centocor's feature-length disease awareness film INNERSTATE (see "Innerstate Private Screening: Philadelphia Style") and I feel the same about Michale Moore's new film SiCKO.

So, on May 17, I wrote an open letter to Michael Moore on behalf of all pharma bloggers encouraging him to invite us to a pre-release screening of the film (see "Mr. Moore Don't Ignore: Please Invite Me to a Screening of Your Movie").

Rather than wait for Moore to respond, I contacted his agent in Hollywood and finally reached his PR people who promised to schedule a screening in Washington, DC or San Francisco (or both, I couldn't be sure).

Since then there have been several emails back and forth as I continue to press them about the screening. They keep responding, "as soon as we know, we will tell you." So far, however, I do not have a definite date.

My hopes have been renewed, however, by an article in PRWeek ("Comms efforts intensify as 'Sicko' release nears") that states:

"[Spokesperson Chris] Lehane said the team is organizing a series of strategic screenings to reach key audiences, including special screenings for Bay Area and DC bloggers, as well as screenings in early primary states and state capitols where healthcare reform is now being considered."
Now, I hope this screening isn't JUST for "DC Bloggers" -- meaning political bloggers and the guys at Drug Wonks! THAT WOULD BE A TRAVESTY!

My call, and my hope, is that all us bloggers in the Pharma BlogosphereTM will have an opportunity to attend a screening -- even if it IS in Washington, DC.

Of course, there's the issue of who pays our train or plane fares.

I am sure, however, that a mere few hundred dollars and free buffet lunch plus the opportunity to hobnob with Moore and DC bloggers would never taint our opinion of the film!

BTW, from what I have seen on Oprah (see the videos here), freebies or no freebies, I am convinced that this movie has wings.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pfizer to Rost: An Offer You Can't Refuse

Rost Accepts Pfizer Settlement, Renames Blog "Question Authority (Except Pfizer, the Largest Drug Company on the Planet)"

Will we someday read this headline in Fortune or the Wall Street Journal, which, of course, would only print it if true -- unlike here, where I am merely extending a scenario envisioned by Jim Edwards over at BrandNRX (see "Can Pfizer Get Over Its Anger and Utilize the Leverage It Has With Rost?").

Jim suggests that Pfizer has "a fantastic opportunity in front of them that no other drug company has: The ability to tie Rost up in a legal settlement that would prevent him from blogging about Pfizer ever again." Jim suggests that Rost would have no option but to accept the offer that cannot be refused:

"And given the scale of pharma settlements, it is highly likely, IMHO, that Rost would feel duty bound to accept those terms. He has a house, wife and kids to provide for after all, and bloggging and publishing don't make people rich."
It's difficult to argue against that point. God knows, I would accept being rich in return for silence. Everyone has his/her price. Don't forget: Rost was "rich" with an annual salary of about $750,000, which he had to give up to blow the whistle. Not many people would have given that up to be righteous.

If Pfizer ever bestowed this "gift" upon Rost, I have no doubt that he will survive and could continue to expose pharmaceutical companies other than Pfizer.

But would the brand "Question Authority" survive? Think of all the T-shirts and mugs he wouldn't be able to sell!

But how much Pfizer money would silence Rost? That's an interesting question that I'd like to have some input on. Peter might also like to know where the line should be drawn.

What will it take to silence Rost?
Somewhat less than $1 Million
$1 to $2 Million
$2 to $5 Million
$5 to $10 Million
An astronomical sum of money!