Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays! Support Your Local Pharma Industry!

Bloggers in the Pharma Blogosphere did not like it when I asked readers to rate my blog and others (see survey summary here). That taught me a lesson: think of numero uno first! Therefore, I've been running a survey of readers of Pharma Marketing Blog for a while. Thank you if you have already taken that survey. If not, see Pharma Marketing Blog Reader Survey to take the survey - but only if you read Pharma Marketing Blog and want to suggest topics I should cover in the New Year!

Support for Industry
A good majority (65%) of Pharma Marketing Blog readers are somewhat or very supportive of the pharmaceutical industry in general, whereas only 19% are somewhat or very unsupportive (see chart below).

I am happy that my readers support the drug industry -- I am "somewhat supportive" of the industry myself, which means I want the industry to succeed, not fail and to do the "right thing" when it comes to marketing.

It's interesting to note that although 84% of industry respondents in my survey consider themselves supportive of the industry, a good percentage (24%) feel as I do -- their support may be conditional (ie, they "somewhat support" the industry)!

The survey also asks other questions like what topics readers would like to read more about on Pharma Marketing Blog and what other blogs they read on a regular basis -- I know those results will be contested by my fellow bloggers! But 'tis the season for good cheer and I will delay a report on those questions until AFTER the New Year!

In the meantime,


Monday, December 17, 2007

This Year's #1 Office Party Favor

Hint: It's an ENHANCED mistletoe product that is sure to liven up any dull office holiday party!

Yet another reason to invite John Mack to your party.

Read about it here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Last Chance to Invite Me to Your Holiday Office Party!

It's a tradition!

Every year at this time I make the rounds to holiday office parties in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, PA) and hand out favors and offers that cannot be refused.

If you are having a party next week, why not invite me?

I still have the tux I wore at the MM&M awards party -- see that story here.

James Chase, Editor-in-Chief at MM&M, was glad that he invited me, if you know what I mean. (That's his editorial assistant kissing my ring at Tavern on the Green.)

Here's my contact information:

John Mack, Editor & Publisher
Pharma Marketing News/Pharma Marketing Blog
PO Box 760
Newtown, PA 18940
215-504-4164 * 215-504-5739 (Fax)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mack's Lilly Whistleblower Scoop!

Several weeks ago I received an email from John Virapen who published a fictional novel ("Side Effects: Death"; written in German) about corruption in the pharma industry.

Virapen claims to have "damning evidence" exposing Eli Lilly bribing the regulatory board in Sweden to attain marketing approval for Prozac and he plans to write the true story based on his memoirs outlining his and Lilly's criminal activities.

Who is John Virapen and do his claims have merit? Is this part of a wider scandal involving Lilly?

Read all the juicy details and learn how you can hear the story first hand from John Virapen in today's post to Pharma Marketing Blog.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Talking Loogie" and Other DTC Critters Walk Out!

NEW YORK, New York (PMB) -- The Critters that appear in many direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug ads will go on strike early Tuesday after their negotiating team recommended a walkout over royalties that could immediately pinch primetime news shows that depend on the ads for revenue.

The DTC Critters Guild of America (DTC-CGA) board voted unanimously to strike as of 12:01 a.m. Monday (3:01 a.m. ET), officials said.

The walkout will be the first in 10 years since the FDA loosened DTC regulations.

The labor impasse is over royalties from use of DTC in alternative media such as blogs, podcasts, web boards, YouTube -- all the various places their works are now distributed, including Internet downloads.

For the full story, including insights from Mr. Mucinex, Beaver, Stippy the Turd, and Honest Abe, see today's post to Pharma Marketing Blog.

In a related story, the WSJ Health Blog reports that Mr. Mucinex is worth $2.3 billion to Reckitt Benckiser, the company that hires him to appear in the Mucinex DTC ads (see "How a Talking Loogie Landed a Multi-Billion Dollar Deal").

Postscript: Newly Discovered Pharma Blog

While I was looking elsewhere, a new blog entered the Pharma Blogosphere in September: Postscript. Looks worthy of your attention.

Here's the maiden post describing its mission:

PostScript, a blog from the Prescription Project, adds another dimension to the Project’s goal of raising awareness around the medical conflict-of-interest issues that are created when drug companies open their wallets to influence prescribing. The Prescription Project Weekly Reader, an e-newsletter that highlights relevant news stories of the week, will continue its regular circulation. You can sign up to receive the Weekly Reader at the Prescription Project website,, where you can also find project news, press releases and media resources, and information on upcoming events.

If you’ve visited our website before or received the Weekly Reader, you know that RxP has a clear mission—to eliminate the influence of pharmaceutical money on the practice of medicine. Toward that end, PostScript will have a clear voice, too, commenting on recent news related to the project and contributing to the growing conversation in the media and blogosphere about pharmaceutical marketing and its harmful effects on health care in this country.

But PostScript cannot just be a single voice. Medical conflict of interest issues affect so many different people in as many ways. Therefore, we feel this blog should reflect those varied voices, acting from time to time as a forum for friends and colleagues of the project—patients and health care practitioners, workers and administrators who have seen first-hand the effects of pharmaceutical marketing on their work and treatment—to share their views.

Friday, December 7, 2007

'Round the Sphere: Blame the Victim and Rost the Litigation Consultant

Generally speaking, Peter Rost -- pharma whistleblower, blogger, and author -- needs no help from me to promote Peter Rost. He's the ultimate self-promotional machine!

If you haven't noticed yet, Peter is now hawking his services as a "Litigation Consultant" on his new blog: "Pharma Marketing Expert Witness."

I don't think he intends to be a witness for the defense of the pharmaceutical industry.

You Are to Blame for High Drug Prices!
If you believe Montel Williams, Peter is now part of the reason why drug prices are so high: litigation against the pharma industry.

Recall (see video here) that Montel was asked by an 17-year old Savannah Morning News intern "What do you think is the main cause of the high cost of prescription drugs?" Shortly afterward, Montel threatened to blow up the intern. But he did answer the question:

"We are the most litigious society in the world," said Montel. "Someone takes a vitamin and [they] sue because the vitamin wasn't of the appropriate flavor. That cost is put back on (sic) your pocket. Everyone wants to vilify the pharmaceutical industry. But no one wants to take responsibility for the FACT that over the course of the past thirty years, we've pushed the cost of these drugs up OURSELVES (his emphasis) by suing..." QED!
If you believe that load of horse shit, which BLAMES THE VICTIM, then Peter Rost will now be part of the problem, not the solution!

Doesn't anyone else find it STRANGE that a spokesperson for a program designed to help victims of high drug prices BLAMES these same people for causing the high drug prices?


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mensa, Schmensa: How Smart Are You?

Here's a challenge inspired by the Washington Post's Mensa Invitational.

Take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are some examples:

  • Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
  • Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
  • Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.
  • Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
What I am looking for are more pharma-related terms such as:
  • Adhorence: the deep hatred of advertising (compare to the pharma-related term "Adherence")
You can find more examples here.

I am trying to think up one appropriate to the Montel Williams story, but am coming up empty at the moment. Got any ideas?

P.S. I sent an email to the Association of Black Cardiologists, which is currently spotlighted as a Partner Organization on the PPA Web site, and asked "Will you pressure PhRMA to fire Montel?" I asked for a return receipt. Here's what I got back:

Your message

To: abcardio
Subject: Will you pressure PhRMA to fire Montel?
Sent: Tue, 4 Dec 2007 10:36:01 -0500

was deleted without being read on Thu, 6 Dec 2007 16:24:50 -0500

The name of the person who did not read my email is Icilma Bertie (email address:

Maybe if you emailed Icilma you'll have better luck!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Insider Joins Blogger Call for Dumping Montel

Couple of things:

  1. Insider, aka Jack Friday, over at PharmaGossip has joined me in the call for PhRMA to fire Montel Williams (see story in yesterday's post to this blog).

  2. If you would like to be added to the roster of pharma bloggers calling for Montel to be fired as PhRMA's celeb Partnership for Prescription Assistance spokesperson, you can leave a comment here or join in a discussion thread I set up over at the Pharma Marketing Network Forums.
Meanwhile, while searching blogs for more Montel posts, I discovered that Montel is looking for UNPAID INTERNS to work for his management and product company (creatively named "Letnom" -- I should have named my blog Kcam; duh!). Regarding Montel's search for an intern, I kid you not! See my post today on Pharma Marketing Blog where I have created an alternative version of the job posting -- one that Montel may have wanted to write himself, but for the sake of political correctness, could not.

P.S. Thanks to Prescription Access Litigation Blog for posting the following video of the question Montel was asked by the young intern. Montel blames the high cost of Rx drugs on our litigious society and tries to stay on message.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

'Round the Sphere: Montel's Bomb Blows Up in Blogs!

So far, at least four blogs in the Pharma Blogosphere -- Pharma Marketing Blog, Pharmalot, eDrugSearch Blog, and WSJ Health Blog -- have posted comments about Montel Williams threat to "blow up" a Savannah Morning News high school intern reporter (see the story here, here, here, and here).
Even PhRMA Intern has gotten into the act (see "PhRMA Intern v. Montel: HS Intern is Saved, But...").

Survey Says
Only one blogger -- me, John Mack -- has called for PhRMA to fire Montel.

If unscientific polls on Pharma Marketing Blog and Pharmalot are any indication, the vast majority of our readers agree that Montel should go.

Ed Silverman over at Pharmalot just asked his readers to respond 'yes' or 'no.' So far, 74% voted Yes. Here's my poll, which so far shows 88% favor firing Montel:

Should PhRMA Fire Montel?
Yes, because I support zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.
Yes, because he's now a PR liability.
No, because he has apologized.
No, because it's no big deal.
Not sure.

This morning the following editorial appeared in the Savannah Morning News:
Montel Williams, the Bully

Montel Williams was a decorated Navy officer, but he was no gentlemen when he threatened a 17-year-old high school student and Savannah Morning News intern.

TELEVISION PERSONALITY Montel Williams apologized Saturday, and rightly so, for threatening a 17-year-old high school student who had asked him a fair question Friday while she was covering an assignment as a Savannah Morning News intern.

Of course, if Mr. Williams was genuinely contrite about his shameful behavior, he wouldn't have issued an apology Saturday through a spokeswoman for his TV talk show. Instead, he would have apologized personally.

Or sent flowers and a card. That's what a real gentleman would have done.

Intern Courtney Scott, a senior at Jenkins High School, was assigned to cover Mr. Williams, who was in town promoting free prescriptions for poor people. It should have been a tame story. Instead, Mr. Williams got angry when Ms. Scott asked him a question he didn't like. He stormed away.

Then later, when Ms. Scott was at the Westin hotel doing a feature about gingerbread houses, Mr. Williams and his bodyguard walked up to the young student and angrily confronted her.

According to Ms. Scott and two witnesses, Mr. Williams threatened to find and "blow up" the residences of the intern and two reporters with her.

Ms. Scott filed a police report late Saturday, but not because a celebrity acted like a jerk. No one, whether a "big star," as Mr. Williams claimed to be, or a no-name street person, has a right to threaten bodily harm on another.

What's sad is that Ms. Scott was looking forward to interviewing Mr. Williams. Her mother and grandmother are fans and watch his show. Her Navy Junior ROTC commander at Jenkins (Ms. Scott is in J-ROTC) told her he was at the U.S. Naval Academy during the same time as Mr. Williams.

Montel Williams left the Navy as a decorated officer. But he apparently left the gentleman part behind, too. Still, student-intern Scott learned a valuable lesson - how to deal with a bully.

She passed that test, with flying colors.
Those southerners! Send flowers like a real gentleman? Get real!

However, I agree that "No one, whether a "big star," as Mr. Williams claimed to be, or a no-name street person, has a right to threaten bodily harm on another."

At the moment, the spinmeisters are attempting to dismiss the incident by redefining what Montel meant by "blow up." Maybe, some say, he merely meant he would blow up her career. Terra Sigillata asks "Montel Williams' blow-up: a symptom of multiple sclerosis or bad judgment?"

A commenter suggested that the young intern should not have even filed a police report:
"...and a police report? grow up.. if you need a police report over someone's words, you're never gonna make it in society."
That reminds me of a story that many parents out there can relate to.

When my son was ten years old, we got him a cell phone. These days that's what parents do to help keep in touch with their kids and keep them safe.

Well, he and his friends made some prank calls of the "Is your refrigerator running?" variety. But they called another "Mack" family listed in the phone book and left a recording on the answering machine in a squeaky, little boy voice: "We are the dominant Macks!"

Long story, shortened: The other "Macks" were so frightened that they not only called the cops and gave them the recording plus my son's cell phone number, they also moved out of their house and took up residence at a local hotel. The cops even paid us a visit!

If that's how grown up people react to a prank call, then I think it's perfectly reasonable for a high school student to take Montel's threat seriously and report it to the police.

The question is: Will the police interrogate Montel like my town's police interrogated my son? or will the charges be dropped?

As I mentioned in my blog, the threat that Montel made was a terrorist threat that, if made by a high school student in the classroom, would instantly cause that student to be expelled or worse!

If PhRMA stands behind "bully" celebrities who think they are above the law or who do not know how to behave in front of children, then I think pharmaceutical employees -- and I mean some of the people reading this -- should encourage their companies to force PhRMA to fire Montel.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Should Zero Tolerance be Applied to Pharma Celebrity Spokespeople?

Not so long ago, I called for pharma advertisers to boycott the Imus show over his infamous "nappy-headed ho" racial slur against young college athletes who never did him any harm (see "Glaxo, Pull Your Imus Ads!"). The next day, GSK and other advertisers did pull their ads.

Now another celebrity associated with the pharmaceutical industry has gone bad -- Montel Williams.

How did Montel go "bad' and what should PhRMA do about it?

Find out by reading today's post to Pharma Marketing Blog. You can also take my little poll.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pharmalyst - Over and Out

The Pharmalyst blog has shut down after accepting an employment offer from a pharmaceutical company. Here's the announcement made on November 17:

Pharmalyst just came off the campus recruiting season and this explains the lack of any posts prior to this one in November.

Well, it looks like all good things must come to an end and perhaps it is now the turn of Pharmalyst's blogging career. During the recruiting season Pharmalyst interviewed with a few pharma firms. One offer was made and Pharmalyst has decided to accept the offer. So starting this summer, Pharmalyst will be one of the unwashed masses toiling away at a big pharma.

Pharmalyst wants to thank all his readers, other pharma bloggers and the many people who corresponded with him. All your insights really gave Pharmalyst a good understanding of the Pharma industry. While this may be the end of this blog (unless the blogging bug bites Pharmalyst again :-)), you may still see Pharmalyst lurking in the comments area of the many fine pharma blogs out there.

Thank you all again (and for those in the US - wish you a happy thanksgiving! Pharmalyst definitely has many things to be thankful for). Cheers.

Over and Out!!

Good luck JS in your new career! Keep in touch.