Thursday, October 18, 2007

'Round the Sphere: Best Exubera Failure Headline/Graphic. And the Winner is...

Pfizer's announcement that it will no longer invest in the marketing or sale of Exubera set off multiple posts around the Pharma Blogosphere.

There were quite a few creative headlines and accompanying graphics.

Let's start with Pharmalot, which is often first up at bat, even though clean-up may often be better. "Pfizer Profit Plunges; Exubera Goes Up In Smoke," said Ed Silverman. To emphasize his point, Ed included a graphic image of a wisp of smoke.

Not bad. I suppose Ed was thinking about the "bong" nickname given the Exubera delivery device by many bloggers. And bongs are used to "smoke" dope. But Ed should have saved his headline and graphic in case Chantix -- another Pfizer drug -- goes bust. The smoke metaphor would make more sense for a smoking cessation drug than a drug that treats diabetes.

There is, however, another interesting connection between Exubera and smoke: Back in October, 2005, I noted that Phillip Morris was attempting to partner with the drug industry to bring to market a unique drug-delivery system it had developed for nicotine delivery (see "Tobacco & Drugs: Strange Bedfellows"). The Exubera bong was the first commercial application of that principle for delivering drugs through inhalation.

This fact was not lost to Pfizer employees over at CafePharma:

"On a different note, doesn't anyone realize that Exubera is a whole lot more than a drug? Its a new technology that will open the floodgates on development of other Pfizer medications that are currently only administered by injection. I believe the success of the process is worth more to the company than the product ever was going to be. I truly believe that the success of Exubera has already been attained in some eyes. Approved commercial use of a system that can take a liquid and safely convert it to be administered in an inhalable form. I once read somewhere that Terre Haute was being labeled by Pfizer as its Inhale production facility for the world. I think Exubera is just a piece in the proverbial puzzle for Terre Haute. The facility already has the square footage available to contain multiple product lines."

In the post I wrote over at Pharma Marketing Blog -- entitled "Exubera Bong Bombs!" -- I used "bomb" and "bong" together in the title for the alliterative value.

I also wanted to use the Hindenburg explosion as an image.

So, I superimposed the Exubera bong over the Hinderburg and voila! I came up with the image shown here, which isn't bad for 6 AM in the morning without Photoshop!

In the back of my mind I was thinking that this would be a great image for Pharma Giles to use as one of his "101 uses for the Exubera bong."

Interestingly, Giles read my post and created his own "bong bombs" Hinderburg image in his post "'Oh! The Humanity!..."

I am the first to admit Giles' superior graphic skill, which is demonstrated in the image below.

It really looks like a giant Exubera bong going down in flames! Too bad we won't see any of the eighty-odd images Giles was hoping to post over the next few months as part of the "101 Uses..." series.

The Wall Street Health Blog took the bomb analogy to extremes by displaying the image of an atomic bomb exploding in its follow-up post entitled "With Partners Like Pfizer, Nektar Needs Enemies?"

I think this is a bit over the top.

No doubt Scott Hensley felt his original post ("Pfizer Gives Last Rites to Exubera") was graphically-challenged and lacked the pizzazz of my and Giles' Hinderburg explosion, so he had to over compensate in his follow-up post.

Next time, Scott, check with Pharma Marketing Blog first so you can one-up me in a more timely fashion!

Saving the best for last, I note that Peter Rost over at NRx is asleep at the wheel again and remains content to leave up his image of a woman with big boobs to illustrate the important news that the smell of women's breasts (during breastfeeding) drive other women wild (see "New drug therapy: Smell of breasts drive women wild"). What Rost is really proving is that MEN go wild over the SIGHT of women's breasts -- and since there are many more men reading blogs than women, Rost scores technorati points for keeping the breast post at the top of his blog list for several days while the drug industry burns and bombs all around him!

All this makes me think I need to improve my graphic skills or at least use more advanced computer graphic tools! I do plan to do this when I finally migrate to a Macintosh, but for now I will be content to satisfy my creative urges through watercolor painting! I've just started an adult education watercolor painting course at my local community college and it's like being young again and living in NYC -- before the personal computer was even a gleam in the eye of Steve Jobs and that other rich guy (what's his name?).

P.S. I think the winner for best graphic should go to Pharma Giles, whereas I must say my headline is the best in that category! Feel free to disagree.

P.P.S. This Just In! A Titanic Failure! Submitted by PharmaGossip (see "Pfizer - Exubera: without a trace"). Here's the image:

Jack Friday has a contender for best image, but his headline should have been "Exubera: A Titanic Failure!"

Not only would that title complement the image, but it would accurately describe the failure of Exubera, which the Wall Street Journal today (Oct 19, 2007) said was "one of the drug industry's costliest failures ever." "This is one of the most stunning failures in the history of the pharmaceutical industry," said Mike Krensavage, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates.

We haven't heard such comments since the sinking of the Titanic!


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PharmaGuy said...

There's been some additional posts made in response to this review of Exubera failure headlines and graphics piece.

Peter Rost of NRx says "John Mack is right" about his failure to join the fray. But readership numbers are more important than timeliness -- and his post about boobs scored very high in that department. To which I say "DUH!"

But one thing you have to say in Rost's favor -- he gives his friends and opponents "hat tips" when appropriate.

You can't say that for the Wall Street Journal Health bloggers -- in their followup post ("Exuberaburg Crashes, Burns") they celebrate the Hindenburg analogy and by omission, imply that the original idea came from Pharma Giles, who appropriately gives me a "hat tip" for the idea.

Hey, WSJ guys! Dig a little deeper and get to the bottom of this story and give me a little bone why don't yah?!

Anonymous said...

I did give you the credit and linked to your informative post- I can only assume the WSJ go for style rather than content...

I use Paint Shop Pro by the way. It's very user friendly - my re-work of your theme took around ten minutes. The layers, clone brush and magic wand functions are all I usually use for my elephantine little visual jokes, and can be mastered in a few minutes.

And as a marketeers you'll know all about the power of presentation...

I had also thought of the Titanic theme but I see Jack has already beaten me to it.

PharmaGuy said...

I lack the magic wand and the fuzzy edge tools!