Saturday, March 31, 2007

'Round the Sphere: No Stinkin' Thinkin' Blogger Award for Me!

I'd like to thank all the Pharma Bloggers out there who did NOT nominate ME as one of the five blogs that make YOU think. NOT!

It's not enough that bloggers get kudos from a survey of readers that I worked so hard on, they also have to go around awarding themselves awards! I'm talking about something called "Thinking Blogger Awards."

It works like a f**kin' chain letter! The worst kind of self-congratulatory accolade there is!

Here are the rules:

  1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
  2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
  3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).
The chain started sometime last month and has finally wended its way to The Pharma Blogosphere. I traced the first Pharma Blogosphere occurrence at Clin Psych Blog ("Only Five?"), which "tagged" PharmaGossip, who tagged his "Brit" buddy over at Pharma Giles (Jack also tagged Peter Rost, who hasn't yet tagged any blog in return), who tagged On Pharma, which hasn't tagged any blog yet (hint: tag me, tag me, no me!).

Not only don't I get tagged, but Pharma Giles adds insult to injury by dissin' my rating scale, by which I recently divide The Pharma Blogosphere into two domains: "Major Planets" and "Minor Planets, et al" (see right). All I can say is "Giles, you're on thin ice! Keep it up and gravity, which we all know sucks, may whiplash you into the asteroid belt of The Pharma Blogosphere!"

The way these things work, I predict that EVERY blog in The Pharma Blogosphere will be "tagged" before the end of next month. The ball is now in Rost's and On Pharma's court. Who 'ya goin' to tag?

The Dead Horse
Other than this, nothing else much has been happening 'Round the Sphere worthy of talking about. O yeah, one thing. Jim Edwards and the dead horse. Not that I want to rehash this debate, but it’s nice to know that the CDC took my position and not my opponents’.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Ready to Celebrate April Fool's Day?

Since April 1 is on a Sunday this year, is Monday the "official" day to celebrate April Fools and post the obligatory spoof to your blog?

In past years, I have been totally oblivious to April Fools and have even been a victim of a joke.

Back in 2005 I posted what turned out to be my greatest April Fools' joke (see "John Mack Rebuffs Merck's CEO Offer"). Unfortunately, I did it two days before April Fools Day! What a maroon!

So, when are you celebrating?

Will The Pharma Blogosphere see spoofs today or Monday?

I don't think Sunday is viable -- no one reads our blogs on Sunday. But I suppose you can technically post it on Sunday so it gets the cache time stamp and people will open it up first thing Monday morning.

Aside from When, I am interested in Who and What ... who among us will post the most impressive April Fools spoof and what will it be?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jim Edwards Continues to Beat the Mandatory Gardasil Vaccination Dead Horse

Jim Edwards over at BrandweekNRX makes a fantastically inaccurate claim that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is taking his side on mandatory Gardasil vaccinations:

"Not that I want to rehash this debate, but it’s nice to know that the CDC took my position and not my opponents’," says Jim (see "Claim: Merck Will Lose $130 Million a Year on Gardasil by Stopping Its Controversial Lobbying").

Jim, if you didn't want a rehash, why'd you start it?

You are not accurately portraying the facts when you say that CDC is taking your position and not your opponents'. Since you link to my comments here (see "Holy War in Pharma Blogosphere Over Gardasil!") as one of your opponents, I'll have to respond.

Your position --- and correct me if I am wrong -- is that Gardasil vaccination should be MANDATED by the states. That is, it should be required of all girls of a certain age before they can enroll in grade school.

The CDC merely is making the vaccine available to eligible girls, it is not MANDATING anything. Your readers should read the Merck press release you link to, which says, in part:

"Eligible adolescents may [my emphasis] receive recommended vaccines through VFC once the CDC contracts for the purchase of the vaccine, a process that is now complete."

Note that the word "may" is not equivalent to "must".

CDC's VFC program helps families by providing free vaccines to doctors who serve eligible children and is administered at the national level by the CDC through the National Immunization Program. CDC contracts with vaccine manufacturers to buy vaccines at reduced rates.

This is very much different than a mandatory program.

The CDC stance, in fact, is closer to my position than yours; namely, the Gardasil vaccine should be made available to all girls who desire to have it, and at a price they can afford, but vaccinations should not be required by state mandate.

P.S. I think Jim threw down this gauntlet knowing full-well that I would respond and thus raise BrandweekNRX to the number 1 position on The Pharma Blogosphere Topics List, beating out Peter Rost!

Pharma Rag, Wake Up!

Pharma Rag hasn't posted anything new since February 13, 2007. Not only that, but the last post (see "John Mack takes matters (and popularity ratings) into his own hands") features my HUGE mug shot and not some very nice comments about me.

Gary, c'mon. This is getting old.

Either post something new or risk being deleted from The Pharma Blogosphere list.

Hopefully, there is no serious problem, but inquiring minds need updating!

My rating of Pharma Rag: 1 Star, Dormant Asteriod

Pfizer Rep Bill of Rights Vetoed???!

No sooner than Peter Rost and I give the Pfizer Rep Bill of Rights Blog a high five, then it mysteriously disappears. You get "(no profile data)" if you click on the link


Perhaps it Yahoo! with which I have a bone to pick.

I think Yahoo! is falling apart.

For months it has been trying to get me to sign up in its Searcgh Marketing program as an advertising site. I tried it for a few days on my Pharma Marketing Network Forums Site and all I got were ads for cell phones!

If I wanted that, all I need to do is let any yahoo submit unmoderated posts to my Forums!

But back to Fizer Rep Bill of Rights. Anyone know what happened? John S, are you there?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New pharma blogs popping up like zits

That's how Peter Rost (Question Authority) describes what's going on in The Pharma Blogosphere. Rost rivals Jack Friday (Pharma Gossip) as the most prolific "pharmastromer" discovering new orbs in our sphere. The latest sighting is Pharmalyst, which Rost claims is written by a student who wants to get into the drug industry.

A month or so ago, when I launched The Pharma Blogosphere, there were about 25 blogs in our member list. The First Ever Pharma Blogosphere Survey covered only 22. Now there are more than 40 blogs on the list.

Let's see...Pharma Blogosphere was launched and was quickly followed by a doubling of blogs in the sphere. Coincidence? I think not, thank you very much!

Of course, not all of these blogs are equally valuable. Some are not truly 100% focused on the pharmaceutical industry. Some are as common, minuscule, and dormant as asteroids, some are over-rated gaseous giants, and some are verdant planets rife with life!

Pretty soon we're going to need a scorecard!

For now, I suggest that readers refer to the "Topics" list on the right. The more often a blog is mentioned in posts here, the higher it appears on the Topics list and the more significant the blog is, at least in my eyes. Right now, that's the best scorecard there is.

Welcome Pfizer Rep Bill of Rights Blog!

Now that "John S," the anonymous blogger over at Pfizer Rep Bill of Rights Blog has apologized for using my stuff without giving me credit and sullying my good brand image (see "Speaking of Renegade Blogger Ethics or Lack Thereof"), I feel it appropriate to welcome this blog into the fold!

Also, let me apologize for suggesting that John S was a typical renegade sales rep that needed some herding.

"I am definitely not your average Pfizer rep for sure. I also am not a professional blogger just a guy trying to make a point..having some fun too."
"professional blogger"? I guess some of us are professionals -- like Ed Silverman (pharmalot), Jim Edwards (BrandweekNRX), and the guys at WSJ Blog, who get paid specifically for writing blogs. I note that the professionals are mostly journalists as well. But most of this in this space, John, are not professionals and we also are just trying to make a point and have some fun. So don't feel like you don't belong.

So, what's Pfizer Rep Bill of Rights Blog all about? Pfizer! of course.

John S will have a lot of competitors in The Pharma Blogosphere who also bash Pfizer on a regular basis. Peter Rost at Question Authority, of course, is your pre-eminent Pfizer Basher Blogger, although he has moved on to other things.

John S has a mission, however. It is "Pfizer Sales Representative Bill of Rights" and he asks at the top of every page of his blog: "Pfizer is ignoring the bad behavior of DM's against sales reps. Can we form a bill of rights?"
"I am for some sort of recognition of rights for reps when disputes arise such as a mediation process or a neutral party to decide a course of action. It seems too much power has been given to DM's to destroy a persons reputation and career if the (sic) get a notion to do so."
Good luck with that, John.

So far his survey has tallied 3 votes in favor of a Pfizer Bill of Rights and 0 votes against. Obviously, his blog, being new, needs more traction. That's what we're all about here at The Pharma Blogosphere -- giving members more traction by helping visitors separate the wheat from the chaff.

Good luck, John!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Speaking of Renegade Blogger Ethics or Lack Thereof

Peter Rost over at Question Authority recently recommended "an interesting new blog, started by John, an anonymous Pfizer sales rep" (see "New Pfizer Blog . . .").

For some reason John uses graphics from my blog (Pharma Marketing Blog), but doesn't have the common courtesy to link back to the source or give me any credit.

He also uses a logo from my web site with a link to a youTube video that I had nothing to do with, which is misleading and unethical.

But WTF should I expect from a Pfizer sales rep?

How do drug companies heard these cats anyway?!

Friday, March 23, 2007

'Round the Sphere: J & J Dinner Brouhaha, von Eschenbashing

The BIG gossip item this week in The Pharma Blogosphere is the J&J blogfest at an upscale restaurant in NYC.

Since my post exploring the "ethics" of bloggers who write about the drug industry accepting a free dinner from a major pharmaceutical company (see "Should We Dine at Pharma's Table?"), there have been a few comments from the inner and outer orbs of our sphere.

Peter Rost over at Question Authority (Peter, you're back on the list!) considered it "a terrible snub by J&J and their blog consultant" that he wasn't invited (see "J&J hosts a wild blogger party in New York!" -- thank God for direct links, else you'd have a hard time finding this post among all the self-promotion of Peter's new book!).

Peter can't understand why bloggers he's never heard of and whose blogs are not as big as his (as measured by Alexa traffic ratings) were invited whereas he was not. Peter, don't you get it? Size doesn't matter!

At least not size as measured with a non-pharma stick like Alexa traffic ratings. What's important in The Pharma Blogosphere is how many pharma industry people read your blog. Not only that, but how often they read it and how useful they rate it.

And the First Ever Pharma Blogosphere Reader Survey tells it all: Among pharma respondents who regularly read blogs, Question Authority scored very low in terms of credibility (only 9% of pharma respondents rated your blog somewhat or very credible). Compared to that, here's how pharma respondents rated some other blogs in the Sphere (some of which you claim never to have heard of):

  • Pharmalot: 43%
  • Pharma Marketing Blog: 42%
  • HealthcareVOX: 29%
Fard Johnmar of HealthcareVOX had "A Few Words About The Johnson & Johnson Blogger Dinner" and agrees that there is more to the reach story than numbers:
"Thanks for your post. I'm sorry you've never heard of me, as my blog is read by a number of folks throughout the healthcare industry. As I like to say to my clients, reach is about more than Alexa numbers. I haven't said much about my attendance at the dinner, mainly because I didn't feel like I had to. However, I will say that yes, J&J picked up the tab for my food. I considered it an even exchange, as I got an opportunity to meet some of the folks there and they got to pick my brain about a host of issues relating to social media and healthcare blogs. The fact that I'm not only a blogger, but a communications consultant who works with a number of health companies, including pharma had a little something to do with it as well. In certain cases, I have paid my own way -- primarily when I'm invited to dinner by folks I am covering on my blog. I also regularly disclose apparent or implied conflicts of interest when I'm writing about organizations."
I don't particularly like Fard's defense of silence before he was forced to speak up: "I haven't said much about my attendance at the dinner, mainly because I didn't feel like I had to."

Keeping quiet in the face of criticism can lead to no good as any good corporate communications person will tell you. You've got to be pro-active and that's why I decided to write my post to bring this all out into the open.

The bastion of silence, however, is Peter Pitts, the Drug/PR Wonk. Nary a word about even attending the meeting over at DrugWonks, which is surprising given his tendency to toot his own horn even more than Rost toots his!

So, Fard has accepted the free dinner and is proud of it. Another attendee who accepted is a medical doctor -- Steven F. Palter, MD of the blog DocInTheMachine -- who defended himself this way:
"As far as pay for dinner, nope I did not foot my own bill -- but then again I did not bill them my expenses for travel, my customary hourly consulting fee for industry to pick my brain, nor did I eat the desert- ka-ching. It takes a lot more than a steak and fries with strangers on a precious night off of work to corrupt me and buy my influence. ... Maybe if they flew me to Paris for the dinner..."
Isn't that just typical of a physician? Right out of the pharma industry playbook. BTW, we all know how much it takes to corrupt a physician: no less than $50,000 (see "FDA Advisor Rule Loophole?").

Well, we don't have Les Crawford to kick around anymore, so let's go after his successor, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach.

if you've been cruising around The Pharma Blogosphere as long as I have, you would have found a few warning signs that von Eschenbach isn't quite up to speed yet in his new job as Commish of the FDA. Mark Senak over at EyeOnFDA, for example, wrote a piece about his inept communications skills.

Here's a von Eschenbach quote cited by Mark: "There is reality and then there's perception. Sometimes in this town those two things get confused. The point is, it doesn't matter. For me, if it is a perception, it is important....I want an agency in which people bring different points of view, divergent perspectives...At the end of the day, you make a decision."

To which Mark asks "Reality and perception aren't the only things confused. What the heck does that mean? Does it mean anything?" (see "Perception - Reality: The FDA and the Art of Communications").

Well, Mark, it does mean something: Andy is equivocating and he's done it again this week as pointed out by Ed Silverman at Pharmalot("Despite Denial, FDA Chief Wasn't Misquoted"), Jack Friday at PharmaGossip ("Locker talk with FDA Commish Andy"), and myself at Pharma Marketing Blog ("von Eschenbach & Gonzales: Two Birds in the Same Bush").

This is a very good example how several blogs can tackle the same story from different angles and give you a 360-degree view you'd never get from a single news story. Power to The Blogosphere!

I will leave you with this image (read "von Eschenbach & Gonzales: Two Birds in the Same Bush" if you want to understand what it means):

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mack Catches Byrd in Podcast

Cary Byrd, fellow Pharma Blogosphere blogger at eDrugSearch Blog, came to the Pharma Marketing Talk virtual podcast studio yesterday and we had a nice chat about reputable online pharmacies.

It's not just about ordering drugs online from Canadian pharmacies. It's about access to the cheapest drugs online.

Find out more about this podcast and listen to the audio archive here or here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Should We Dine at Pharma's Table?

Well, I'm back from Florida. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to escape the after effects of the freaky ice storm that hit the Northeast. I've been chopping 6-inch thick solid ice off my driveway since Sunday! It's no fun going to Florida unless you can laugh at your neighbors who had to shovel snow when you didn't!

Not only am I pissed at that, but I missed out on free drinks and dinner at an upscale New York restaurant hosted by J&J PR people. This was an informal get-together of several bloggers, including Ed Silverman of Pharmalot (see "Bloggers Do What?") and Jim Edwards of BrandweekNRX (see "J&J Hosts Blogger Summit. Much Wine Consumed."), among others yet to fess up.

According to Jim Edwards, blogosphere attendees included: "Fard Johnson of Healthcare Vox, Nicholas Genes from MedGadget, Peter Pitts from DrugWonks, Steven Palter from Doc in the Machine and Ed Silverman from Pharmalot. And me."
As pointed out by Jim, I was invited but cancelled at the last minute, thus insuring that everyone else gossiped about me behind my back. I will reveal here the mysterious reason why I cancelled at the last minute. But first, a little history.

Let me confess that I was responsible for the format of this meeting. Marc Monseau, the director of media relations at J&J who organized the meeting of minds, called me sometime in February and wondered if I'd be willing to come by the J&J offices in New Brunswick, NJ to discuss blogging with some people there.

This was a first for me. It sounded like an interesting opportunity, but for what I wasn't sure. Marc really had no agenda or questions he could share beforehand. So, it sounded like a fishing expedition to me.

As you know, I'm a busy guy and I hate day trips without a clear purpose or benefit to me. As I told Marc, I don't work for a large corporation with an expense account. My time is my money.

I asked if I would be compensated for my time, but Marc demurred. So, he suggested meeting for drinks and conversation. Unfortunately, I only drink during dinner. "Make it dinner with those drinks," I said, "and you got yourself a deal!"

An that's how this dinner thing got started. I feel responsible because I am sure that Marc had something much simpler in mind.

Then I cancel!

Anyone with a suspicious mind -- ie, most PR people -- might view my last minute cancellation as an insult or manipulation on my part. After all, now I am writing this piece on bloggers accepting free meals from pharma and I can take the high road because I did not partake.

BTW, I cancelled for personal reasons (think of Alli oops! side effects and you may guess what those reasons were; imagine me eating a huge steak along with Jeff Leebaw!). I also cancelled an appointment with my dentist, which I was looking forward to with as much gusto as the J&J meetup.

So, J&J, please don't hate me!

But the question remains: Should we bloggers dine at pharma's table?

It did cross my mind that this could be an issue when I first suggested dinner, but I thought harder about it after a conversation with Jim Edwards before I left for vacation. He was concerned about how to pay for the dinner because he could not accept such a freebie. I see that he has worked out a way to do it as has Ed Silverman over at Pharmalot.

The majority of attendees of the J&J soiree were PR wonks or journalists -- birds of a feather that the J&J corporate communications people could easily relate to. Only two of the four journalist bloggers that attended have indicated what their policy is regarding accepting free gifts -- including dinner. As yet, I haven't heard from Fard Johnmar or Peter Pitts. [I suspect Pitts often wines and dines at pharma's table and enjoys it very much, thank you!]

Journalists like Ed and Jim just cannot accept any gratuity from the people they may be investigating and writing stories about. That seems pretty clear.

[BTW, I just learned that Ed Silverman is no longer a journalist. But you still work for a newspaper, right? I don't get what it is you are now.]

But bloggers who are not also journalists are a special case. I'm an even more special case -- sort of in between a journalist blogger and an ordinary blogger. I'm a newsletter publisher/blogger. I also wear all the hats, including the business development hat, which requires that I schmooze with advertisers and help them promote their products and services. So, wining and dining with clients and potential clients is something I do all the time.

After my conversation with Jim, the issue of whether or not I should attend was working it's way through my system and probably lead to the Alli-like condition I developed while on vacation (or was it the Dungeness crab I ate? It could happen: see "F.D.A. Warns Against Eating Organs of Crab").

Subconsciously, I was battling whether or not I should attend. For me, as for most independent bloggers, paying for the drinks and dinner out of pocket wasn't an affordable option.

What would I get in return? I've already taken the pulse of pharma's attitude about blogging by meeting and talking with executives at conferences and through personal contacts -- eg, simple phone calls.

I weighed all these factors and decided I would not dine at J&J's table.

What would you have done?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

PhotoShop Me a Beaver Contest

So far, there are two entries in the "PhotoShop Me a Beaver" contest (see "Please Photo Shop a Beaver Into This Group Portrait") --

PharmaGossip also suggested we take a look at this:

Pharma Giles had this to say about PharmaGossip's entry: "Nice beaver! It's so huge! I think you win, Jack..."

Hold on there! I am the decider here!

And I decide that the contest is not over. Now that Peter Rost is back in the blogging game, perhaps he will give it a try?

What about the rules?
Well, there aren't any. You can put a beaver head on one of the ad guys, for example. I have an opinion which guy that should be, but won't say.

I am also opening this up to non-bloggers and anonymous commenters as well. If you have an image you want to enter, just send it to me at You can remain anonymous, I promise.

So be creative! And c'mon, there must be some creative types from agencies that compete with Cramer-Krasselt out there! So come on down and show us what you can do!

P.S. I am still on "vacation" in Sunny Isles Beach, FLA. Today I visited the Everglades. While I didn't see any beaver there, I did see a couple of turtles fornicating! So far, that's the highlight of my trip. Tomorrow I see a female impersonator dinner show!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Please Photo Shop a Beaver Into This Group Portrait

These are the guys responsible for the Rozerem DTC ads (see "Takeda - Fire These Guys!"):

Can somebody -- maybe PharmaGossip's "Jack Friday" -- please add the beaver to this portrait?

I don't have the time -- I am off to Miami to lie on the beach!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pharmablogger Promoted, Rozerem Demoted

Thumbing through The Pharma Blogosphere member list on the right, I decided to see if there were any activity over at Pharmablogger, which has been dormant since November, 2006.

Finally, we hear from this "employee in the Clinical Development area of a large pharmaceutical company" who has "witnessed [his/her] industry manipulate, distort, subvert, suppress, and otherwise mangle facts in pursuit of increasing their consumption of the nation's wealth."

So what's new with Pharmablogger? "Not much. What's new with you?", he/she says.

Thank you for asking. Since you ask, plenty of new things have been happening in the pharma blogosphere if you had been looking. That's why I started this "meta blog" to keep up with it all.

I am sorry to say, however, that Pharmablogger was not included in the first ever survey of the pharma blogosphere (see "Pharma Blogosphere Survey Results - Who and Why?" and "Industry Bias in the Pharma Blogosphere").

I hope you understand ... I thought you were dead or, worse, abandoned your blog! I couldn't ask someone to rate a blog that hadn't anything to say for over 3 months! Maybe next time.

Glad to see you back and up for a promotion!

Boycott Rozerem!
I am trying an experiment. Maybe you can help. I would like to start a grassroots boycott of Rozerem among physicians and have posted a "Dear Doctor" letter over on Pharma Marketing Blog (see "Call for a Rozerem Prescription Boycott!"). I have even created a logo for the boycott:

Here's what I need:

  • Join the call for a boycott by posting the "Dear Doctor" letter on your blog. You can also use the logo if you want.
  • Ask your doctor if a Rozerem prescribing boycott is right for him or her.
I don't think there's ever been a call for boycotting a prescription drug. Perhaps the drug industry will look upon this as a dangerous precedent. But here's how I look at it: never before have I witnessed a drug company so brazenly push the envelope while denying any responsibility whatsoever -- not once, but several times!

The FDA is powerless to stop Takeda -- NOV letters are mere slaps on the wrist. And PhRMA certainly isn't doing anything. But what may happen sooner rather than later is Congressional action against DTC and this will hurt all of us!

Demand accountability!

Thank you for your kind attention to this rant.
Do You Support a Rozerem Rx Boycott?
Yes No

Sunday, March 11, 2007

'Round the Sphere: Takeda's WaterGate Moment

What otherwise would have been a minor incident for Takeda has the makings of a WaterGate-style scandal, which, IMHO, should result in some rolling heads at Takeda!

And I think many bloggers in The Pharma Blogosphere would agree.

First, Takeda is caught running reminder DTC TV ads although it is a signatory of PhRMA's Guiding Principles for DTC Advertising. This was reported first on my Pharma Marketing Blog (see "Rozerem Reverts to Reminder TV Ads").

Then, they claimed the ads weren't reminder ads at all (see "Takeda: It Isn't a Reminder Ad --- Wha!!!")!

That was too much for me. So, I sent a complaint to PhRMA. Although I did get a "thank you for your comment" letter in the return mail (see "PhRMA Responds to My Rozerem Ad 'Concern'"), it didn't seem to deter Takeda.

In a weird twist to the story, FDA, in a "Notice of Violation" (NOV) letter to Takeda, agreed with Takeda that some of these reminder ads are not reminder ads. In fact, says the FDA, specific "Back to School" Rozerem ads violate FDA regulations.

This story was picked up by the newswire, of course, reported in the Wall Street Journal and subsequently in blogs in this space. See, for example:

But the real WaterGate moment occurred when Takeda denied any responsibility for the ads:
"Our preliminary review of the situation indicates that no one internal to Takeda was involved in the approval, release or broadcast of the advertisement in question."
This was in an email sent to Jim Edwards of BrandweekNRX (see "Takeda Borrows Cephalon's Excuse for FDA Warning Letter").

This is a literally incredible excuse, never before heard in the annals of the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry. As Rich Meyer over at World of DTC Marketing said:
" really expect the FDA to believe that and if it is in fact true then Takeda has a hell of a lot more to worry about than an NOV, your business processes are in a serious need of a colonoscopy and someone needs to be held accountable. Frankly in today's business environment this is unacceptable and totally unacceptable for a highly regulated industry like prescription drugs." (See "Rozerem bitch slapped by the FDA").
Yes, but don't hold your breath for any accountability. Here are three events we are not likely ever to see:
  1. Hell freezing over
  2. Resignation of FBI Director Robert Mueller who claims to be accountable for major violations of the Patriot Act
  3. Takeda holding itself accountable for its DTC ad campaigns

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Industry Bias in the Pharma Blogosphere

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, with regard to the First Ever Pharma Blogosphere Survey, "it will take time to fully adjudicate the data and further understanding of the [survey] requires that the data be analyzed in full. As the data become available we will be working with investigators and experts to ensure a comprehensive analysis and will report through forums where scientific discussion and dissemination can occur."

I am happy to inform you, therefore, that we have some more results to report; specifically, the results from question #7: "Please rate the following pharma-related blogs in terms of their industry bias -- very critical very support, or neutral." Respondents could answer Very supportive, Somewhat supportive, Neutral, Somewhat critical, Very critical, or No Opinion.

The results are shown in the chart below:

Click on the Image for an Enlarged View

This chart was prepared by Chris Pounds who works at Myriad Pharmaceuticals where he is responsible for marketing research, forecasting, competitive intelligence, financial modeling, and decision analysis. He really knows how to look at market research data and make some nice charts! Thanks for your help Chris.

According to Chris, the above graph "looks at Favorable (to industry) top 2 boxes (Very supportive and somewhat supportive) minus the Unfavorable to industry (bottom 2 boxes). If a blog were considered "completely balanced" then this would be zero. If everyone said the blog was pro-industry to some degree (and not neutral) this would be 100% positive."

I note that my blog, Pharma Marketing Blog, is on the "Unfavorable" side of the graph, but I think it's within the meaty "critical but helpful" to "supportive and helpful" range. That is, if you are too critical, who's going to listen to you and get ideas for improving? Yet, if you are too supportive, who's going to learn anything they already don't know? So the short range to the left and right of namby-pampy neutral is where you want to be IMHO.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Survey Data Being Adjudicated

Asked when results from the recent First Ever Pharma Blogosphere Survey will be available, Mack told us "it will take time to fully adjudicate the data and further understanding of the program requires that the data be analyzed in full. As the data become available we will be working with investigators and experts to ensure a comprehensive analysis and will report through forums where scientific discussion and dissemination can occur."

Oh, I'm sorry! Was that excuse already used by Pfizer? See Pharmalot.

You have to go to school many, many years to spin like that! So, I appreciate being able to apply the language to my case!

Seriously, we're working on it!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Rost Retires, Relapses, Returns, Redacts

First, he's out, now he's back!

Just when you thought it was safe to take up Rost's mantle of Sexual Pharma Blogger extraordinaire -- hold on there Jack! -- Rost returns and redacts his pledge to blog no more!

For more on this and Rost's reasons for returning to the Blogosphere, see "Blog Addiction."

What the Hell Is This?

Rost includes this image of a what I assume is a crack bong in his post:

I assume it's a crack bong because of the file name (crack3.jpg) and because Rost is talking about addictions and so on. But I thinks it's really a sex toy -- note the little knobs!

Yep! Peter's at it again!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Pharma Blogosphere Survey Results - Who and Why?

Last month,The Pharma Blogosphere Blog, in association with Pharma Marketing Blog and the help of other blogs in this space, hosted and promoted the First Ever Pharma Blogosphere Survey. The survey ran from 3 February 207 through 28 February 2007.

The purpose of this survey was to provide a baseline rating of readability, credibility, usefulness, and bias of 22 blogs that focus on the pharmaceutical industry. The blogs included in the survey were:

  1. BrandweekNRX
  2. Clin Psych Blog
  3. Dr. Peter Rost
  4. Drug Injury Watch
  5. Drug Wonks
  6. eDrugSearch Blog
  7. EyeOnFDA
  8. HealthcareVOX
  9. impactiviti
  10. In the Pipeline
  11. On Pharma
  12. OnThePharm
  13. Pharma Giles
  14. Pharma Gazette
  15. Pharma Marketing Blog
  16. Pharma Rag
  17. Pharma Watch
  18. PharmaEdge
  19. PharmaGossip
  20. Pharmalot
  21. Rx Daily Dose
  22. World of DTC Marketing
Two of the above blogs (Dr. Peter Rost and Pharma Watch) have since either ceased operations or become unavailable to the general public. Some blogs (eg, Pharmalot and Pharma Rag) have just recently entered this space.

Just a few results of the survey concerning who responded and why they read blogs are presented below. This information may help all of us understand our readers a bit more. The full results will be published in the April issue of Pharma Marketing News and released at the upcoming Healthcare Blogging Summit on April 30, 2007, in Las Vegas.

Who Participated?
More than 150 people participated in the survey, but not all completed the survey or answered the most important questions. Some respondents also indicated that they never read ANY of the blogs! Obviously, these responses were discarded and we were left with 144 valid responses.

Who were these respondents? The survey asked each respondent to choose a principal affiliation from among a list provided. The following chart shows the affiliations of respondents.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Interestingly, the largest group of respondents are affiliated with drug, biotech, or medical device companies. The survey did not ask respondents for other information about themselves such as job title, so we cannot say much about what functional areas within these companies are interested in blogs. Next time, we may ask for that kind of information.

The survey did ask, however, if the respondent currently published or contributed to a blog about the pharmaceutical industry. Obviously, we all rated our own blogs and it was necessary to take that into account when presenting the results. This can influence the results of those that received relatively few ratings a few ratings.

Not surprising was that fact that 18% of respondents answered "Yes" and provided the URLs of the blogs they were associated with. Some of these blogs are included in the survey:
  • BrandweekNRX
  • Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry: A Closer Look
  • eDrugSearch Blog
  • impactiviti
  • Peter Rost
  • Pharma Gazette
  • Pharma Marketing Blog
  • PharmaEdge
  • PharmaGossip
  • World of DTC Marketing
These were the people honest enough to indicate their blog affiliations. I suspect a few other bloggers were not so honest. But that's life!

Other respondents were affiliated with blogs that were not included in the survey:
  • Cafe Pharma
  • Clinical Trials Today
  • CME Linkages
  • Healthy Skepticism
  • Honest Medicine: My Dream for the Future
  • IgniteBLOG
  • InnerCityMedicine Networks
  • Pharm House
  • Pharma Jobs Help
  • Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare
  • Pharma's Cutting Edge
  • Ryan TrueHealth
  • Trusted.MD Network
Some of these are not true blogs (eg, Cafe Pharma), some are not focused on the pharmaceutical industry exclusively (eg, Trusted.MD Network), and some are corporate blogs or web site (eg, Ryan TrueHealth).

Why Do We Read Blogs?
The survey asked repsondents to check off the reasons why they read blogs about the pharmaceutical industry. The choices were:
  • To see what bloggers may be saying about MY company or blog
  • To be entertained
  • To learn more about industry business practices, regulations, etc.
  • To keep up to date with industry news and gossip
  • Other
Respondents could check more than one answer. The results are presented in the following chart:
Click on image for an enlarged view.

"Other" reasons included:
  • Documenting Big Pharma's excesses
  • Don't know why
  • Follow competition
  • For patient safety info
  • I am interested in eDetail online programmes
  • Looking for specifics
  • Peter Rost posts some hot chicks!
  • To contribute to the conversation
  • To find story leads and comments
  • To join discussion, push debate forward
  • To learn broadly about the industry
  • To see who is influencing whom
  • Want to help demistify their dark side and change it if we can to the better
Obviously, some one needs to take up the sex appeal mantle that Peter Rost has worn until he pulled out! Maybe "Jack Friday" over at PharmaGossip will take it up?

Friday, March 2, 2007

BrandweekNRX Prepares to Woo Car Dealers!

BrandweekNRX appears to be preparing to woo advertisers. It's the only reason I can think of for why it is hosting a Neilsen survey, which pops up when you visit the blog.

The survey asks basic demographic questions like how old you are, do you own or lease a car, what your income is, your gender, etc.

So, be prepared to see car ads on BrandNRX in the near future!

P.S. I can't imagine BrandNRX has that much traffic!

P.P.S. I answered the survey and said I was a full-time student, made less than $25,000 per year and didn't own or lease a car.

BTW, I never got a thank you! and was not offered any incentive like a chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to Bermuda, which would have been nice!

'Round the Sphere: Rost Retires, Edwards Wages holy War, Byrd Flies, and Other Tidbits

It's been an interesting week in The Pharma Blogosphere!

I Won't Have Rost to Kick Around Anymore

First, Peter Rost (Question Authority) retires his blog in order to focus on his new movie (see "Rost Hit By PhRMA's PPA Bus: Shuts Down Blog"). He's dead to me now and I have removed the Question Authority blog from The Pharma Blogosphere list.

Holy Cow, Holy War!
Jim Edwards is getting me really mad! First, he claims I am pro-cancer. Now he says I am anti-science! Dude, I have an MS and MPhil degree from Columbia University in Biochemistry and majored in Chemistry at Franklin and Marshall College (phi Beta Kappa) and am a member of the New York Academy of Sciences! But Edwards seems to think I am just another hick from Pennsylvania, a God-fearing, bible-totting border state! Like I said, meet me at Christ Church at dawn (see "Holy War in Pharma Blogosphere Over Gardasil!")

Parents Don't Know Shit!
Meanwhile, Drug Wonks has a guest blogger (TV personality JOHN STOSSEL) who blames the media (how original for Drug Wonks and how "biting the hand that feeds him" for Stossel) for scaring parents about vaccinations (see "Scaring Ourselves Stupid"). Another attempt to paint opposition to MANDATORY vaccination as "anti-science." And however much Stossel's "heart goes out to parents struggling to help their autistic children," his brain is gone out to lunch. And I thought the conservatives believed that parents' rights rule!

Byrd in a Cage?
Has eDrugSearch Blog and Web site been shut down, hijacked, or subverted? See "eDrug Search Hijacked by Sleazy Link Farm".

I don't know about you, but I am getting concerned about recent troubles experienced by "insiders," "whistle blowers," and "anti-establishment" proponents in The Pharma Blogosphere. Are we all vulnerable?

What Else Is Going On?
Blogosphere Survey: The First Ever Pharma Blogger Survey has ended! There were a gross of responses -- 144, that is. From wikipedia I learned that 144 is the twelfth Fibonacci number, and the largest one to also be a square, as the square of 12. I also learned that 144 is the measurement, in cubits, of the wall of New Jerusalem shown by the seventh angel (Holy Bible, Revelation 21:17). Holy War Batman!

So when do I reveal the results? I may reveal a few results here from time to time as teasers, but I will make a full report available at the upcoming "Healthcare Blogging Summit 2007 (Spring)" in Las Vegas, where I will be participating in the panel "Navigating the Blogosphere."

CL Psych Blog: CL Psych Blog was rated as one of the TOP FIVE blogs in The Pharma Blogosphere in terms of readability, credibility, and usefulness. Not the highest in rank in any of those categories mind you, but right up there! Consequently, I have made it a point to check it out often.

This week CL Pysch liked what I had to say about Cymbalta, off-label promotion, and disease mongering (see "Cymbalta for GAD: Pimp That Thang"). To find out why CL Psych is talking about "Pimp[ing] That Thang," you'll have to read my original post ("eGAD! How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Cymbalta!").


OnThePharm: Still on vacation! More than a week ago, OnThePharm announced it was back from a week's vacation. Doesn't seem to make a difference -- no posts were made since then!

Eye On FDA: Mark Senak over at Eye On FDA weighed in on Gardasil and mandatory vaccinations in the post "State Status on HPV Mandates." Mark, who will be my podcast guest next Tuesday (see "Keeping an Eye on the FDA"), points out that some states are considering legislation to BAN mandatory vaccination (now THAT's anti-science!). He also belittled Washington state's proposal to include $25,000 for an awareness campaign on the subject of HPV. He thinks this is "measly." Au contraire, mon ami! Look what Merck got for $6,000! A great worldwide PR campaign that the majority of people responding to my poll think will BENEFIT Gardasil sales! (See "Does Merck Need a Vaccine for Bad PR?")

Pharma Giles: Pharma Giles examines Pharma CEO lookalikes (see "Lookalikes..."). He insults me, however, when he characterizes The Simpsons as a "children's television cartoon." Obviously, this Brit or Aussie blogger (I forget which) is not too familiar with US culture. Although that might be a plus in his favor, he really ought to get with it. As I keep telling my wife, The Simpsons is the longest running TV show in American history and I doubt if many kids watch it or can even understand its humor and political commentary! BTW, "Montgomerie (sic)" Burns is NOT the boss of a "nuclear reprocessing plant" -- it's a nuclear POWER plant! Jeez!

OK, that's it. I really got to do some work!

eDrug Search Hijacked by Sleazy Link Farm

Just days after announcing the official launch of the Web site, we find that visitors ar redirected to a "link farm" that panders to online Canadian drug sources.

This is disturbing for two reasons: (1) the site may have been hijacked or, worse, taken down by government authorities, and (2) promised to "enable consumers to quickly access safe, affordable prescription medications through an easy-to-use search engine," but now all bets are off and the site's reputation suffers every day that visitors to the site are hijacked by the link farm, which obviously doesn't vett the sites it links out to.

I have emailed Cary Byrd, the president and founder of, to get more information.

As you may know, I plan to interview Cary in an upcoming podcast ironically titled "Can You Find Reputable Canadian Drugs Online?"

Maybe the answer is "No!"

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Holy War in Pharma Blogosphere Over Gardasil!

Jim Edwards of BrandweekNRX won't let up in his holy war against other bloggers in this space who disagree with him over the issue of mandatory HPV vaccination.

According to Jim, if you are against mandatory vaccination, you are pro-cancer and worse -- you are "anti-science"!

"This is a debate between those who believe science can cure disease," say Jim, "and those who believe religion (or 'abstinence,' which is the current buzzword to describe religious solutions to STDs) can cure disease." (See "JAMA Survey makes Gardasil Debate Even More Confusing".)
Them's fighting words, Jim! And it's hogwash!

Of course, I am dismayed to find myself on the same side of this issue as perhaps the religious right is, but Jim seems to have lost all his journalistic sense if he thinks ergo I agree with the religious right on the power of religion vs. science!

How dare you make that assumption! Meet me at dawn in the grave yard behind Christ Church in Phila, if you dare. I'll bring the pistols!

P.S. I think all the "bad" PR over mandatory vaccination is helping Gardasil sales (see "Does Merck Need a Vaccine for Bad PR?"). What do you think?

Will the Controversy Over Mandatory Vaccination Help or Hurt Gardasil Sales?
It will definitely help
It might help
I don't know
It could hurt
It definitely will hurt