Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pick Your Halloween Costume

Do you have a costume for the Pharma BlogosphereTM Halloween party? You can choose from the following. See below for some notes that may help you make your choice.

1 -- Sorry. This one is reserved for a certain gossipy US expat Brit blogger.
2 -- If you are a nerdy pharmacist blogger, maybe this would be a good choice for you. But I had some wankers in mind for this one.
3 -- The Judge. 'nuff said.
4 -- Who's hot and breathing fire these days? If that's you, then choose this one.
5 -- Available.
6 -- Well, there's a lot of these out there. But none of you who read this blog. Just for laughs.
7 -- Available.
8 -- A certain Swedish blogger has been associated with this guy. But if I were him, I'd go with #14.
9 -- Works well for "Cafe" denizens. If you frequent such a place, try this one on for size. But watch out! You may run into the real McCoy!
10 -- This is the logical choice for the kitty among us. Haven't heard from you lately. Maybe the cat's got your tongue.
11 -- Any former pharma reps here? This would be you. If yo are a guy, see #14.
12 -- Available. Suitable for any male blogger with a full head of dark hair.
13 -- See #3. If you are a Web 2.0 magician, then you might want to wear something like this.
14 -- See #8.
15 -- Reserved for a certain medieval-sounding blogger. See also #12.
16 -- Appropriate for an old school liberal blogger.

The "Dream" Pharma Blog Panel

Have you voted for your "dream" pharma blog panel yet?

I am trying to put together a panel that could participate in an industry conference or in an online virtual roundtable discussion.

Please help me out.

Select your dream members by taking the following poll. You will be able to see the results after you vote. If I left someone off the list, please add that name to the comments to this post.


Select the Members of YOUR "Dream" Pharma Blogger Panel
Mack/Pharma Marketing Blog
Myer/World of DTC Marketing
Giles/Pharma Giles
Shanley/On Pharma
Hensley et al/WSJ Health Blog
Carlat/The Carlat Pschiatry Blog
Lowe/In the Pipeline
Monseau/JNJ Blog
Pitts/Drug Wonks
Someone Else/Not Listed

Takeda/Rozerem: Not so good!

Consumers International (CI), which claims to be the only independent global campaigning voice for consumers, yesterday accused Takeda Pharmaceuticals -- marketer of the sleep aid Rozerem -- of "taking advantage of poor US regulation and advertising sleeping pills to children, despite health warnings about pediatric use." To honor that achievement, CI awarded Takeda a 2007 International Bad Product Award (see press release).

In fact, Takeda was the overall winner!

For more about this, see today's post to Pharma Marketing Blog.

Meanwhile, PharmaGossip reports that "Takeda tumbles in Tokyo." Can these two events be related? Or is it just good karma?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mystery Blog Panel Revealed

A few months ago, Ed Silverman over at Pharmalot, asked me if I would like to participate on a blog panel he planned to moderate at an upcoming DTC Perspectives conference (see "Do Pharma Blogs Have Any Influence?"). At the time, however, I was embroiled in a tiff with Bob Ehrlich (see "Mack and Meyer Clash with Publisher Over 'Journalistic Integrity'"), the chairman of DTC Perspectives. So I assumed that neither Myer nor I would be invited. Ed made no promises and I told him not to worry -- he shouldn't go out on a limb to get me invited.

Well, I wasn't invited, which is OK. This is not sour grapes. I was busy presenting at another conference elsewhere anyway (see "J&J Blog, Shire PR: The Whole Story and Nothing But the Whole Story!").

I have since made amends with Bob and helped his people promote the DTC conference by being a Media Sponsor. I did hope to attend the blog panel session and report on it, but in the end I decided that I couldn't afford to be out of the office, spending 4 hours driving back and forth to attend a 45-minute session. I hoped that Ed would blog about it on Pharmalot -- but so far, he has said nothing.

In fact, Ed and Bob had been very secretive as to who exactly would be the bloggers on the panel. The conference agenda on the website just said "Bloggers/Panelists to be announced" and even when asked, Ed refused to name the panelists. Even up to the day of the conference, Ed remained mute on that subject (see his post, above).

Why all the secrecy, I wonder?

Here's a report on the panel from Christiane Truelove, author of the Pharma Blogs: Week in Review e-newsletter:

Bloggers on pharma blogging
Yesterday I left the office and made the trek up to Parsippany, N.J., to participate on a panel about pharmaceutical blogging at a conference hosted by DTC Perspectives. Mr. Silverman had invited me to participate, and I was flattered. I am unaccustomed to public speaking, having spent most of my career lurking around with a notebook and pen and asking the questions, instead of having questions asked of me.

The more-than-two-hour-drive along Route 287 notwithstanding, the panel, which examined whether pharmaceutical blogs were influencing consumers and opinion leaders, went pretty well. Some of the highlights:

Mr. Silverman touched on how blogs create the opportunity to exploit word-of-mouth communication. Most of all, pharmaceutical blogs give an opportunity for people from very different areas a chance to mingle and network — physicians, industry people, and consumers. “These were people who two years ago, weren’t connecting with each other,” he says.

For Mr. Hensley, the comments to posts on the Wall Street Journal Health Blog are extremely interesting because of the intelligent level of the discourse. “Sometimes the blog is just a starting-off point,” he says.

Mr. Pitts says although the pharmaceutical industry may wish these blogs to go away, blogging — “a wonderful, terrible, unexpurgated type of media” — is here to stay, and the industry must learn how to deal with it. He pointed out that certain types of stories are getting deeper coverage in the blogs rather than the mainstream media.

In answer to an audience question as to how companies should address legal fears about participating in the online conversation, the panelists generally agreed that the corporate lawyers always will give the most conservative advice. Mr. Pitts pointed out that the FDA regulations about online communication as far as blogs were concerned were practically nonexistent, and companies that want to engage in more online communication should be able to prudently handle what risk there may be.
The "blogger" panelists -- Ed Silverman (Newark Star-Ledger/Pharmalot), Scott Hensley (Wall Street Journal/Health Blog), Peter Pitts (Manning Selvage & Lee/Drug Wonks), and Christiane Truelove (MedAdNews) -- were of all one stripe: journalists or PR hack! It can be debated whether or not they are representative of the Pharma Blogosphere community as a whole, but at least they know the territory and are familiar with all the luminaries.

A Hack-in-the-Pack
Peter Pitts (the PR hack-in-the-pack), however, would not have been on my list of invited panelists. He is neither trustworthy nor transparent. Pitts is the biggest shill for the pharma industry there is. Don't take my word for it, read what GoozNews has to say about him here.

Pitts often uses words I do not understand like "unexpurgated" to describe blogs! (I looked it up on Google: it means "not having material deleted" or "uncensored news reports".) That's very funny coming from a guy who is known to delete posts from his own blog (see "DrugWanks Pull Post")!

OK, so it wasn't my dream blogger panel! But who would be on such a dream panel? Give me your opinion by taking this simple poll (see results so far after you vote):

Select the Members of YOUR "Dream" Pharma Blogger Panel
Mack/Pharma Marketing Blog
Myer/World of DTC Marketing
Giles/Pharma Giles
Shanley/On Pharma
Henessey et al/WSJ Health Blog
Carlat/The Carlat Pschiatry Blog
Lowe/In the Pipeline
Monseau/JNJ Blog
Pitts/Drug Wonks
Someone Else/Not Listed

Friday, October 26, 2007

'Round the Sphere: Marc v. Mack, POE v. MM&M, Commuincation v. Nooses

A few of us blogger denizens of the Pharma BlogosphereTM were out and about attending and/or presenting at pharma industry conferences this week.

Marc Monseau -- J&J BTW blogger -- and I teamed up at the Digital Pharma conference in Princeton, NJ, to do our audience-participation point-counterpoint routine on whether or not the pharmaceutical industry should embrace Web 2.0 (see "J&J Blog, Shire PR: The Whole Story and Nothing But the Whole Story!").

It was such a great success that I am thinking of trademarking it. But I'm afraid J&J might sue me, so I won't! ;-)

Ed Silverman at Pharmalot interrupted his busy blogging schedule to moderate a panel discussion at another pharma industry meeting hosted by DTC Perspectives in Parsippany, NJ. The panel of bloggers addressed the question, "Do Pharma Blogs Have Any Influence?"

This was a mystery panel -- the blogger panelists were not announced prior to the meeting although at one point it was rumored that Peter Rost was invited. But I think Peter was busy making a speech in the Swedish Parliament.

I planned to attend, but other business kept me tied down in my office. Perhaps Ed will enlighten us on the details later in a post to Pharmalot. I know my ears were burning all day!

What I do know is that DTC Perspectives had their annual POE awards dinner the night before and announced the winners of the most innovative DTC campaign. I had predicted the Gold and Silver winners, but was surprised and disappointed by the Bronze winner.

I didn't attend that event either because I rather be watercolor painting! This is my first composition. like it?

But I will be attending the even more gala, Black-Tie MM&M awards ceremony at Tavern on the Green in Central Park, NYC, on Thursday, November 1. For more on this, see "Awards: POE vs. MM&M. I Pick Winners!"

Finally, on a more serious note, Fard Johnmar over at HealthcareVOX blog, went "off topic" to comment on racist "gestures" like nooses hung on trees and doors and the brouhaha over a statement attributed to James Watson, winner of the Nobel Prize as co-discoverer of DNA's molecular structure. See Fard's comments here.

According to Bloomberg.com, Watson was quoted Oct. 14 in the Times of London saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa'' because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours -- whereas all the testing says not really.''

Ever since I read Watson's book, The Double Helix, I realized he was a pr*ck! His comment about Africans just confirms it. Let's put racism aside for a moment. May I ask, WTF do social policies have do with intelligence? I mean, should charity and financial aid go to only intelligent people rather than to anyone in need regardless of their intelligence?

Fard suggests that we should not waste our time condemning these idiots but rather counteract racist beliefs with communication:

So, I have a simple suggestion for communicators of all colors and creeds. People are quoting the 'science,' IQ tests and SAT scores to suggest that Blacks and Whites are not of equal intelligence. They also rely on anecdotal evidence, saying "look around, you can't help but notice that most Blacks don't take advantage of the opportunities they have in this country." If we want to change these beliefs, we have to replace assumptions with the facts. Show people why they are wrong by citing examples of the quiet, unheralded contributions Blacks are making in business, science, education, law and other areas. Condemnation is good, but saying 'this is wrong' and going back to business as usual two weeks later is criminal.
Fard cites a few names of Blacks that have made unheralded contributions to our society. What I want to know is, where are they in the pharmaceutical industry? I know they are there! I've met a few at industry meetings like Digital Pharma and have written at least one story in my newsletter about the work of a Black pharma product manager.

Women pharmaceutical executives have the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association but where is the Black Pharma Businessperson Association?

Fard, I think it would be a great idea to seek out Black professionals in the pharmaceutical industry and begin telling their stories. Let's ask Marc Monseau for help -- he may be interested in getting J&J employee stories posted to his blog!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mike the headless Chicken

Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Jeffrey Kindler's decision to scrap an unpopular drug bucked an unspoken industry rule, according to a Wall Street Journal article ("Pfizer Breaks With Norm by Scrapping Drug"). Namely, products can linger on life support as long as they pose no safety problems.

This reminds me of the story of Mike the Headless Chicken (read it here). Mike the Headless Chicken (April 1945 – March 1947; pictured above) was a Wyandotte rooster (cockerel) that lived for 18 months after its head had been cut off.

There's a parable here:

  1. Exubera could have been Pfizer's headless chicken and lived for 18 months if Kindler didn't kill it; or
  2. Pfizer is now a headless chicken until it finds another blockbuster drug.
You decide. Read my interpretation on Pharma Marketing Blog.

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!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pfizer Has Larger Fish to Fry!

"For now, we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known." -- Cor. 13:12

The recent announcement of the Pfizer-Sermo deal has been discussed by practically every blogger in the Pharma Blogosphere and beyond!

Is Pfizer in this to promote its products to Sermo docs?

Reading all these blog posts and articles written about the deal would lead you to believe that that is what's behind this.

But I think Pfizer has much larger fish to fry than a mere 30,000 Sermo physicians!

Read about this in today's post to Pharma Marketing Blog: "Pfizer has a Gold Mine in Sermo!"

Friday, October 12, 2007

Will Chantix be Viagra II for Pfizer?

Chantix takes the place of nicotine and like nicotine stimulates dopamine production, which "gives you a feeling of pleasure."

What I didn't realize is that the pleasure involves vivid, memorable dreams, which is a "side effect" that Pfizer describes as "changes in dreaming."

I found that interesting, so I decided to mine some social networks to find examples of dreams that Chantix users were reporting.

What I learned leads me to believe that Pfizer may have a "Viagra II" in Chantix and not realize it!

For more on this, with examples of Chantix-induced pleasure dreams, the connection to George Clooney, and my idea for a new Chantix DTC ad campaign, read today's post to Pharma Marketing Blog.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Welcome New Blog: The Science Business

Another mainstream media/journalism blog has joined the Pharma Blogosphere: The Science Business. It is written by Matthew Herper who is an Associate Editor at Forbes (see photo on left).

Matthew looks like a serious, no-nonsense dude! I don't expect to see frivolous posts about the shelf-life of men or scary commercials from this guy.

According to Matthew: "The Science Business [is] a blog focusing on how companies affect and are affected by research in biology, medicine, chemistry and physics. Biotech and pharmaceutical firms, whose stocks trade on research results, will be a primary focus here, but I'll try to cast a wide net for other kinds of science as well."

Here's Matthew's first post:

First, a look at one of the most puzzling mysteries in pharmaceutical science right now: Why did Pfizer's drug to boost good cholesterol, torcetrapib, fail, and does that mean similar pills from Merck and Roche are goners as well? New data on Merck's pill provides some clues.

Torcetrapib was supposed to be Pfizer's savior when its Lipitor goes off patent three years from now. High levels of good cholesterol, also known as HDL or high-density lipoprotein, seem to protect the heart by carrying heart-attack-causing artery plaque out of the body, like a garbage truck. Torcetrapib boosted HDL 60% or more.

But the torcetrapib actually seems to have caused deaths in a big clinical trial, and nobody knows why. This could be because torcetrapib boosted blood pressure, a known risk for heart attacks, but it could also be the HDL it produced, instead of preventing heart disease, actually caused it.

How could that happen? Torcetrapib -- and similar drugs from Roche and Merck -- raise HDL by blocking the cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP). Doing this raises blood levels of HDL, but the HDL may actually be full of cholesterol. The result is kind of like having a lot of garbage trucks on the street, but they're all full.

If raising cholesterol by blocking CETP out of the water were a good thing, Merck's drug would have blown torcetrapib out of the water. Because their drug doesn't raise blood pressure, Merck scientists were able to boost good cholesterol 130%, and cut bad cholesterol, or LDL, by 40% -- as much as a low dose of Lipitor.

So was this good cholesterol, well, good? One marker of heart disease risk is a protein called lp-a; the Merck drug lowered that. But it didn't affect C-reactive protein, or CRP, which a measure of how inflamed artery plaque is. More inflammation means the plaque is more likely to burst and cause a heart attack. So maybe the cholesterol wasn't so good. More information on CETP-blocking drugs should emerge at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in a month.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

'Round the Sphere: Mandatory Gardasil Vaccination Politics Make Strange Bedfellows

Are you for or against mandatory vaccination of school girls with Gardasil? Are you afraid to be against it and thus painted as a right-wing religious conservative!

There have been several posts within the Pharma Blogosphere today on this issue.

First up is PharmaGossip's post "Merck - Gardasil: fatal side effects?," which suggests a hint of doubt about the veracity or scientific merit of a report from "US public interest group" Judicial Watch regarding the release of documents that link Gardasil to as many as 11 deaths since its approval in the market. I only note that Jack Friday does not identify this group as a "conservative, non-partisan educational foundation."

Compared to Jack Friday, Ed Silverman over at Pharmalot is a flaming liberal -- at least when measured by his slant on this story. In his post, "Gardasil: Conservative Group Trumpets Side Effects", Ed starts right off questioning the mission of Judicial Watch by use of the phrase "bills itself as a conservative public interest group that 'advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life,'"

"This is, essentially, another front in the battle against Gardasil. By issuing such press releases, Judicial Watch not only caters to its core constituency - social conservatives who worry the HPV vaccine will be seen as a green light to premarital sex among teenagers - but also plays on the concerns of parents who are undecided whether to vaccine adolescent girls (Gardasil isn’t yet approved for teenage boys) and question mandated vaccination."
Ed thus categorizes opinions about mandatory vaccination as a battle front with religious conservatives on one side and everyone else on the other.

May I dare say that it is not as black and white as that?

In my post to Pharma Marketing Blog, "Gardasil: Is the Risk of Being "One Less" Worth It?," I see the evidence presented by Judicial Watch as a test case of the new pharmaceutical industry "balance benefits vs. risks" mantra.

After all, even Big Pharma CEOs like Lilly's Sidney Taurel are calling for better systems to "quickly identify both the true benefits and the full extent of risks associated with medicines in widespread use."

Presumably, physicians in consultation with patients represent the best way to determine whether a drug or vaccine is right for a particular patient based upon known risks vs. expected benefits. If Gardasil vaccination is mandatory, that kind of conversation with the physician is not an option. This goes against every liberal notion of "patient empowerment."

Therefore, I propose "patient empowerment" as the liberal battle cry and battle front against mandatory Gardasil vaccination!

BTW, I argued this point with the former blogger in charge at NRx before he left for journalism school. As of this writing, the current author of NRx has not written about this issue, but has instead posted important information about how easy it is to read gibberish and a YouTube video that is no longer available! Just so you know where the priorities are.

Friday, October 5, 2007

'Round the Sphere/Week in Review: Let's Party!

From the looks of things, we are ALL working too hard! We need a party! And I don't mean a virtual party.

I'm trying to organize a real life Halloween party in my neck of the woods (Newtown, PA).

Here's the map:

View Larger Map

There are many pharma-related businesses right here in Newtown. Of course, the Pharma Marketing Network/News empire is located here.

PharmaLive/Engel Publishing, which brings us Pharma Blogs: Week in Review written by Christiane Truelove, is also in Newtown. Would you believe I am in walking distance of their offices and have never met Christiane. I've probably seen her crossing Newtown-Yardley Road to get lunch at the deli -- Watch Out! I don't break for competitors!

It was actually Christiane that gave me the idea for a party -- she's obviously been working very hard and wasn't able to get out her newsletter for the last couple of weeks! But it's back today! Here's an excerpt:

On Thursday, Dr. Daniel Carlat testified at the Massachusetts State House on a bill to control health-care costs in Massachusetts. One part of the bill would ban most drug company gifts to doctors. Dr. Carlat shared with readers an incident that happened to him, when a rep’s gift influenced his prescribing decision. “The fact is that pharmaceutical gifting is an effective marketing technique, as much as physicians deny that their medical opinions can be swayed by such small dispensations,” Dr. Carlat says.

Speaking of gifts, John Mack of the Pharmaceutical Marketing Blog talks about the mixed messages from Lilly in offering a paper-sorting tray to Cymbalta-prescribing physicians. While Mr. Taurel was urging the health-care industry to go to electronic records, Lilly’s mailer for Cymbalta was proclaiming that the paperless office is a myth and offering the letter tray to help keep physicians’ offices organized. “But the story is more than the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing,” Mr. Mack says. “It's about drug safety and Lilly's lip service to drug safety.” Apparently these mailers were cited by FDA for making misleading efficacy claims and understating risk. Mr. Mack posts a story done by the Wall Street Journal here. “Perhaps Lilly and FDA need to go paperless in order to achieve better, more efficient communications so that they can understand one another,” Mr. Mack says.

And speaking of online electronic health records in the quest for the paperless office, Merrill Goozner of GoozNews talks about how Microsoft has unleashed its PR blitz for the Microsoft Health Vault, which would allow consumers to generate online personal health records. Mr. Goozner dissects a quote from Microsoft CEO Bill Gates in the Wall Street Journal, in which Mr. Gates points out that almost all test results, prescriptions, procedures, etc. are already recorded in digital form. “So, then, isn't it a simple task to insist that these electronic medical records be made available upon request to patients and other physicians (with patient approval)?” Mr. Goozner wonders. “Isn't it a simple task to pass a law that requires all physicians, hospitals and clinics transition to patient-available electronic medical records with portability if they wish to continue collecting fees from Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs, which account for nearly half of all direct health care expenditures?” He does concede that there will be interoperability and data-reporting standards that would have to be resolved. I think interoperability issues would be a significant problem — if you’ve ever had the joyous task of transferring files between an old home computer to a new model, you can imagine how much more of a nightmare is involved when putting together a system whose files can be easily transferred between the physician, health insurance company, and consumer. Thus, Microsoft is designing a system in which Mr. Gates says the patient can be the center and can decide who to share the health data with.

Mr. Mack is not too enthusiastic about the Health Vault offering. “Anyway, why would you entrust your personal health information with a technology company known to be prone to privacy and security lapses?” he wonders. “Wouldn't it make more sense to go with a service from a company with healthcare experience like Aetna or Wellpoint? While you may not trust health insurance companies, at least these companies must comply with health information privacy and security standards set by HIPAA and they have a good incentive to protect their clients' privacy — unlike Microsoft, their business depends upon it.”
As for the party -- let me know if you can make it. Costumes required -- I am sure we can get some ideas on what costume suits each of us from Pharma Giles!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lilly: Paperless Physician Office is a Myth!

Lilly Cymbalta Marketers are NOT Practicing What Lilly Executives Preach!

While Sidney Taurel, Lilly's chairman and chief executive officer, urged "the health-care industry, medical community and U.S. government to work more closely" to use information technology to eliminate the paper-based physician office, Lilly marketers were distributing Cymbalta promo mailers to physicians, offering them a black, simulated leather letter tray to more efficiently hold paper.

"The paperless physician office is a myth," declares the mailer. "This tray will keep you prepared for the mountain of forms, files, and folders headed your way."

But the story is more than the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. It's about drug safety and Lilly's lip service to drug safety.

For the complete story, read today's post to Pharma Marketing Blog.