Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rost for FDA Commish Gains Support from Senator, Congresswoman, and Blogger

As I reported on Pharma Marketing Blog, Peter Rost -- who has made a reputation as whistle blower, muckraker, and Pfizer nemesis -- holds the lead in my "Who Should Obama Nominate for FDA Commissioner?" survey (see "Meet the Person Likely to be the Next FDA Commissioner").

Today, I received a note from Rost that reproduced email he received from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson that promised they would deliver a letter to the appropriate person on the Obama transition team recommending Rost be nominated as FDA Commissioner! See "U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson support Dr. Rost for FDA Commissioner" on Rost's blog site. [That's Sen. Brown in the photo on the left.]

Cary Byrd over at eDrugSearch Blog also endorses Rost for FDA Commissioner and has published an interview with Rost here: "Q&A with Dr. Peter Rost,’s choice for FDA commissioner".

If Rost does become FDA Commissioner, he owes me big time!

I started the "Rost for FDA Commissioner" campaign when I reported that "FDA Intern Supports Peter Rost for New FDA Commish!" back in early November (read the history here).

If Rost does become FDA Commissioner, I am dead to the pharma industry!

Just for the record, I personally endorse Susan Wood (see "Susan Wood: "The One to Take the Lead" of the FDA"). I have corresponded with Ms. Wood and asked her to respond to the following questions:

  • Should the FDA be given authority to control tobacco and nicotine as a drug?
  • Should the FDA have more resources and use them to bolster inspections of imported food and drug products and allow re-importation of cheaper Rx drugs?
  • Should the FDA be given authority to review and approve generic versions of biologic drugs?
  • Should the FDA preemption of consumer lawsuits against drug companies be eliminated?
  • (my favorite) Should the FDA issue specific guidance on the use of the Internet for the promotion of Rx drugs?
So far, I have not heard back from her on these specific issues, but regarding the possibility that she could be nominated, she did say "I apprecitate (sic) your support for such a hypothetical situation".

NOTE: Among respondents to my survey who say they are very or somewhat supportive of the pharmaceutical industry, Rost comes in 5th behind Nissen, Wood, Woodcock, and Califf.

Take the survey here and vote for your choice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Is Ed Silverman Interviewing for a New Job?

Yesterday, Ed Silverman -- the prolific Pharmalot blogger -- wrote that he was taking the afternoon off for a "speaking" engagement at a major pharmaceutical company:

"Pardon the interruption this afternoon," Ed wrote, "but believe it or not, we have again been asked to talk about what we do - you know, covering pharma and this new media world in which we live. Who asked us this time? Well, if you must know, it is….a big drugmaker. Which one? Guess correctly, and we will send you a Pharmalot t-shirt. Seriously. We have a trunk full. However, we should point out that, no, we are not paid for this activity, although we will accept a cup of stimulation. Wish us luck and see you shortly..."
Starting with me, about 38 of Ed's loyal fans suggested the name of the drug company.

Last night, Ed posted this comment in response:
"Since it is now nearly midnight back here in the nation’s medicine chest, I thought it might be a good time to say the guessing game is over. The lucky winners will be contacted for mailing addresses and, yes, I will actually send honest-to-goodness Pharmalot t-shirts, which sport the spiffy Pharmalot logo. Perfect for, well, just about anything. No charge involved. Meanwhile, I want to thank those of you who took the time to guess. I never expected so many responses."
If the guessing game is over, Ed, why not tell us where you were? Why all this secrecy? It's worse than trying to guess who Obama will pick next!

Has Ed been offered a corporate mouthpiece job at one of the pharma companies commenters mentioned, where he’ll take over or start up the blogging function?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Ed finally responded:

Hi John,

Sorry for the secrecy. I was just trying to have a little fun by making this into a guessing game.

The correct answer was…Pfizer. And I was asked to speak to their global communications and policy folks, who also heard from the gentleman who runs Sermo.

I’ve spoken a number of times - the NY/NJ chapter of the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society; the Association of Health Care Journalists NY chapter; Sanofi-Aventis policy and communications people; the NJ Chapter of the American Association of Indian Pharmaceutical Scientists; the Healthcare Compliance Packaging Council; a DTC Perspectives conference, and the recent Pharma Compliance Congress in Washington DC.

Well, I was right on one count: Ed was talking to corporate communication types. It's still possible that Pfizer will offer him a job working for the group he spoke to. Just trying to have a little fun by making this a guessing game!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Peter Rost's Blog's New Name: Peter Rost for FDA Commissioner

Today I noticed that Peter Rost -- former Pfizer Marketing VP, turned drug industry whistle blower, author, and blogger -- changed the name of his blog (again!) to PETER ROST FOR FDA COMMISSIONER.

It all started when I reported on Pharma marketing Blog that FDA Intern -- Strange visitor from an Ivy League school who came to FDA with powers and ability far beyond those of Janet Woodcock or even FDA commish Andy von Eschenbach! -- announced her endorsement of Peter Rost as president-elect Obama's nominee choice for the new FDA Commissioner (see "FDA Intern Supports Peter Rost for New FDA Commish!").

Peter himself had re-published on his blog a 2004 press release in which Rahm Emanuel -- Obama's new Chief of Staff -- expressed a glowing opinion of Rost (see "Emanuel Statement: Importation Press Conference with Pfizer Vice President Dr. Peter Rost").

Shortly afterward, I decided to start my "Who Should Obama Nominate for FDA Commissioner?" survey (see "Vote for New FDA Commissioner: Let Obama Know"). I picked names of 10 contenders from opinions expressed by various bloggers in the Pharma Blogosphere to include in the survey. Out of respect for FDA Intern, I included Peter Rost in that list. Respondents can also write-in their own choices.

I asked several bloggers to include notices about my survey on their blogs and a few, including Peter, did so.

What surprised me -- and I think Peter as well -- was that Peter became the leading contender very early on and still leads the pack with nearly 100 people voting to date (see "FDA Critics Lead the Pack of Contenders for New FDA Commissioner According to Poll!"). This despite the fact that I endorsed Susan Wood on Pharma Marketing Blog (see "Susan Wood: 'The One to Take the Lead' of the FDA").

At first, Rost did not take himself seriously as a contender for FDA Commissioner. But he also saw the results of mt survey and posted them to his site and the story was picked up by a German newspaper that obviously took all this seriously (see "Germany discusses possibility for Dr. Rost to become new FDA Commissioner").

I also pointed out to Rost that the Obama transition team had a Web site where people could submit their resumes for government jobs in the Obama administration. Peter thanked me for the heads-up and quickly applied.

I also notified the Obama transition team about my survey and suggested they keep up with the results and comments from respondents when I publish them in an upcoming issue of Pharma Marketing News.

Here are the top contenders to date for FDA Commissioner nominee, according to my survey respondents:

  1. Peter Rost - 24.5%
  2. Steven Nissen -- 14.9%
  3. Janet Woodcock -- 12.8%
  4. Susan Wood -- 10.6%
If we look at just respondents from the USA, the results are a bit different:
  1. Steven Nissen -- 17.3%
  2. Peter Rost -- 16.0 %
  3. Janet Woodcock -- 12.0%
  4. Susan Wood -- 12.0%
Of course, now that the ROST FOR FDA COMMISSIONER campaign is in full swing, we can expect even more votes for Rost!

What do you think? Is Rost your choice for FDA Commissioner? Vote now!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Has the alliconnect Blog Been Abandoned?

The last post made to the alliconnect blog was on September 3, 2008 (see screen shot below).

Who Do You Think Should be the New FDA Commissioner?

Click on the image to take the survey

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pharma 2.0: A New (to me) Blog in the Pharma Blogosphere

I just discovered or re-discovered Pharma 2.0, which is a blog written by Bunny (aka Beatrice) Ellerin who is a Managing Director in the New York office of InterbrandHealth, a brand consultancy, which is part of Interbrand, which is part of the marketing communications giant Omnicom.

Bunny leads the research division and is responsible for all facets of the business including operational performance, business development, client management and staffing. She is also spearheading the firm’s efforts in the Health 2.0 space.

Here's her "mission statement" as expressed in her first post to the blog:

This is my first stab at blogging. It’s taken a while to find a topic that I was interested in writing about consistently, but finally I have. Over the past year I have immersed myself in the world of social media, particularly as it relates to healthcare. The number of health-related social networks, blogs, videos and wikis is astounding. Even more so is the level of trust they inspire and the depth of personal information patients share with each other online. While patients still turn to their doctors (when they can reach them), they are also increasingly turning to each other to discuss medications, treatments, symptoms and more.

What is happening online today is very different than what we experienced in the early days of the Internet – remember the term eHealth? The early eHealth sites were information aggregators, primarily one-way in nature. They did not encourage interaction among site participants. Today’s sites are the opposite, all about community, conversations, collective wisdom and UCG (user generated content).

So where does pharma fit into all of this? Traditionally the pharmaceutical industry has been a sizable funder of web-based activities through sponsorships, online CME, unbranded disease sites and branded product sites. According to eMarketer (April 2008), online ad spending will reach $1.2 billion in 2008 and nearly double to $2.2 billion by 2011. Indeed without support from the pharma industry, many health sites would have failed.

Today’s web, however, poses new challenges for pharma marketers. Dialogue is happening all over the Internet - patients talk about drugs in online videos, physicians discuss products they have used (and perhaps disliked) on blogs, parents post information (and misinformation) about childhood vaccines in social networks. In the old days, pharma could control the message; today that is neither possible nor desirable.

So then how and when should pharma engage? The goal of this blog is to address that question. We will explore specifics related to social media and identify how industry (pharma, biotech and medtech) to can engage successfully and meaningfully. We will look at specific examples of programs that are launched, interview industry leaders, talk to CEO’s of interesting social media companies, examine the regulatory environment, capture insights from patient opinion leaders and highlight relevant data.
I wonder what Bunny has to say about my recent post to Pharma Marketing Blog -- "King of the Hill Blasts Social Network Marketing: Lessons for Pharma." Maybe she also saw that King of the Hill episode.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let's Hope Pharmalot Survives!

This past week I noticed 3 indicators that Ed Silverman, author of Pharmalot, may soon be losing his job at the New Jersey Star-Ledger, the newspaper that owns Pharmalot.

First, Insider over at PharmaGossip picked up the story of trouble at the Star-Ledger (see "Let's Hope Ed at Pharmalot is OK"):

The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., will reduce its newsroom staff by nearly half through voluntary buyouts as New Jersey's largest newspaper seeks to return to profitability.

Jim Willse, the Star-Ledger's editor, said Friday that the newspaper accepted 151 buyout offers from its news staff, or about 45 percent of its 334 editorial employees. He said 17 buyout applications were rejected.

Some staffers already have left, and others are leaving by year's end, many after the elections.

You can read more here from the Star-Ledger, although, so far, Ed is silent about all this on Pharmalot.

I have noticed that Ed has been making the rounds speaking at many industry conferences. Usually, when you see someone speak at several conferences in a short timeframe, it's a sign that the person may be looking for new opportunities.

The third thing I noticed was a promotional email sent to me via the Pharmalot mailing list, which I subscribed to in order to keep up with posts made to Pharmalot -- and NOT to receive promotional emails! This indicates that Pharmalot is trying to capitalize on its reputation and subscribers to squeeze more advertising revenue out of the blog. I think it's the first time that a blogger has used his or her subscriber list to promote a product or service for a third-party advertiser. Sounds desperate.

If the Star-Ledger and Pharmalot go belly up, I too hope Ed survives! Ed is a veteran reporter and knows all about the problems facing print news media. He expressed these concerns to me many months ago. I'm sure he has a plan to switch to something new, interesting, and profitable in the digital news realm.

Here's a prediction you heard here first: I predict that Ed and few of his fellow employees will take over ownership of Pharmalot from the Star-Ledger, perhaps with some angel investor assistance.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pfizer Hits Ehrlich with $5216 to $8357 in Retiree Health Benefit Costs!

For a real life demonstration of how inadequate McCain's health plan is, even for well-off pharmaceutical company retirees, I offer the following from Bob Ehrlich who wrote in his eNewsletter for DTC Executives (find his entire article over at DTC Perspectives Blog):

"I am considered a Pfizer retiree. I worked there for about three days after their takeover of Warner-Lambert in 2000. I am covered for health insurance by the Pfizer retiree plan. When I received the retiree newsletter last week I was rather shocked to see that insurance costs will rise dramatically starting in 2009. Apparently Pfizer and many other corporations have capped their contributions which reached a peak in 2008. So all retirees are going to carry the up charges from now on.

"Pfizer says our costs will be $5216 in 2009, $8357 in 2010 and $11,808 in 2011. Sounds like a bubble to me. The company says these rates are still less than if we went out on our own to buy health insurance. I do not like paying these rates but I can afford it. What about the majority of their retirees who cannot afford such rising costs? I imagine there are millions of retirees who face this same dilemma from thousand of corporations."
If McCain were elected president and was able to implement his $5,000 tax credit for buying health insurance in the "open" and de-regulated insurance market, Erhlich would immediately lose $216 and up to $6,1808 in 3 years. That's considering just the cost of subsidized benefit. He would also be likely to pay taxes on the portion of the benefit paid by Pfizer.

What would Erhlich have to pay for health insurance if it were not subsidized by Pfizer? That is, what would he pay in the "open" market? If he is going to pay $11,808 for his share of a subsidized plan, I got to imagine the total bill for his plan is at least 2X that! Yikes! Could he afford that in an "open" market? What group would he be able to join that can offer a better deal than the thousands of Pfizer retirees?

Maybe this is why only 31% of Pharmaceutical employees who have taken my "McCain vs. Obama: Who's Better for Pharma" survey say they will vote for McCain versus 54% who say they will vote for Obama!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Check Out McCain's "Tiki Bar!"

Presidential candidate John McCain currently has one of his 7 or so houses up for sale on I learned about this from Peter Rost's Blog where you can find the link to the listing of this $12,000,000, 9 Bed, 8 Bath, 14,000 Sq. Ft. house that would cost you $65,619 per month if only you could obtain a mortgage.

Scrolling through the 13 photos of this "single-family" dwelling, I found the above photo of the outdoor "tiki bar." That more than anything bothered me.

For months now I have been dreaming of and designing my very own tiki bar that I may be able to afford after my two sons finish college. I've been looking at storage sheds that could be converted to house the bar and a portable sink connected by a hose to my house's water supply. I would run electric extension cords from my house to power the lights and small refrigerator. No thatched roof -- that would be too expensive. I notice that McCain's tiki bar also does not have a thatched roof. That much I have in common with McCain -- when I am able to get my tiki bar that is.

BTW, have you decided yet who you will vote for in November? Please take my McCain Vs. Obama. Who's Better for Pharma Survey. You can remain anonymous and will be able to view the results so far. Over 250 people have already taken this survey.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Friends in the Pharma Industry are Losing Their Jobs!

We've known for a long time that the pharmaceutical industry is in a recession. The results of a poll of readers of Pharma Marketing Blog that I started back in March, 2008 has consistently said so (see "Is the Pharma Industry in a Recession?" and the chart above showing recent results; go to Pharma Marketing Blog to take the poll).

We've all seen the stories of decreasing pharmaceutical marketing and R&D budgets and resulting layoffs.

Now I am beginning to hear from friends -- including at least two bloggers who work at pharmaceutical companies -- that they have "left" their jobs to pursue other activities. Rich Meyer, blogger over at "The World of DTC Marketing Blog", recently left Medtronic Diabetes -- a medical device company -- because he felt they were not investing in the "e" channel and believed that his talents could be better used elsewhere.

Lending a Hand
Jobs come and go, but friends are forever. Whatever I can do to help my friends find new jobs or get their new endeavors a head start, I will do. Here are a few ways I can help anyone who is looking for new opportunities within the pharma space:

Make My Pharma Social Network Work for You: If you are reading this, you are probably a proponent of social networking. By all means, update your profile on LinkedIn and get a Facebook page. But also consider the Forums at Pharma Marketing Network if you wish to have a platform to draw attention to yourself as an expert in pharmaceutical marketing. See "An Online Community to Call Our Own" for more information about this social network for pharma marketers.

Ways in which the Forums can help:

  • Post your resume to the Jobs Exchange Forum -- no charge!
  • Volunteer to be a moderator of one of the many discussion forums and post your opinions and other information relevant to the topic area of the forum. There are forums devoted to DTC, physician marketing, eMarketing, CME, etc. The more you post, the more search engine visibility you get and the more people will read your Forum profile, which can include your bio and other information you wish to share. Potential employers and business partners may be among the 80,000 monthly visitors to the Forums site. Contact me ( if you are interested in learning more about becoming a Forum moderator.
  • Join the Pharma Marketing Network Roundtable and be cited as an expert in Pharma Marketing News articles. The Roundtable is my advisory board that I go to first when I need expert opinion on a range of topics covered in my newsletter. It's an exclusive group of people who work inside pharmaceutical companies and in agencies or consultancies that service the pharmaceutical industry. The Roundtable Discussion Forum is a members-only, password protected forum where Roundtable members can post their opinions within a trusted community. You can use the social networking tools available to build a "buddy" list for exchanging personal messages. Apply to be a member here.
Be a guest on Pharma Marketing Talk live Internet talk show, which is also archived as a podcast. I am hosting a series of interviews of Pharma eMarketing Pioneers and would like to talk with you if you think you are a pioneer, whether you are currently employed or not. Apply to be a guest here.

I am sorry that I cannot do more. Good luck!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

IgniteBlog's Fabio Gratton Used to be Tom Cruise's Personal Assistant

There are only 3 degrees of separation between me and Kevin Bacon! I know and have hung out with Fabio Gratton, who was Tom Cruise's personal assistant, and Tom Cruise was in the movie A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon!

Fabio, as you may know, founded Ignite Health, a technology-based healthcare communications [got to correct the spelling on your LinkedIn page, Fabio] agency committed to innovating healthcare marketing. He is also the author of IgniteBlog.

Anyway, for those who care, here's Fabio's complete work history as outlined on his personal web site:

  • First job: mowing lawns (paid for my first scooter)
  • Second job: creating logos for my dad's company (healthcare)
  • Third job: Kinney Shoes (Yes, fitting shoes for smelly feet)
  • Fourth job: Mario's Restuarant, Westwood Village (fired because they thought I was stealing money from the cash register)
  • Fifth job: UCLA Alumni Annual Fund (sucked)
  • Sixth job: Intern at Paramount Pictures Story Department (learned everything I ever needed to know about screenwriting)
  • Seventh job: Personal assistant to Tom Cruise (he was good to me)
  • Eighth job: Fair-Riley-Call / Bozell (healthcare advertising)
  • Ninth job: Started Ignite Health (never looked back)
Fabio also created this rebus, which I saw on a MM&M Webcast about Pharma eMarketing ROI (see "Do Privacy Concerns Stand in the Way of Measuring Pharma eMarketing ROI?"). Can you tell me what "It" is?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Problem with Print Media Blogs

I've often criticized "blogs" owned by the print media (ie, newspapers) as not being in the same category as "traditional" blogs written by individuals. For one thing, editorial policies that rule these "media blogs" often do not allow readers to "look under the curtain" that news organizations place around the news.

Another problem, which I have often noticed with media blogs, is that they tend to write about the same topic at the same time! You can see this graphically by accessing PharmaMarketingNetwork's Pagecast, which I maintain.

The following was recently captured from that page:

At the time these images were captured, Wall Street Journal Health Blog and Pharmalot -- the two most popular print news media blogs in the Pharma Blogosphere -- simultaneously had these as their top posts. This happens often.

A similar phenom can be seen in the evening network news programs on TV. You can flip through the channels and see the same story running at the same time on all three networks (you can also see the same drug DTC ads running at the same time on all three networks!).

The WSJ Health Blog got some criticism at a recent meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (see this post). WSJ Blog author Scott Hensley admitted that "some in the audience grumbled that the way we do things — a generally news-driven rather than an opinion blog — isn’t bloggy enough for their taste." He also called attendees "Egghead Editors and Publishers" and the "brainy bunch," which generally are derogatory terms meant to put smart people in their place, if you know what I mean. Yet, Scott claims that his blog "is building a community of smart readers." Seems to me, Scott, you can't build a community of smart people and insult the whole class of smart people as "eggheads" at the same time.

Of these two blogs, I like Pharmalot best because I get Ed Silverman's -- the author's -- personal point of view on the news. With the WSJ Health Blog, I just get the news -- which is fine if you want a Cliff Notes version of the WSJ's printed health section.

Pharmalot is also more creative, especially with its use of graphics. Hey, WSJ guys! Get with the 21st Century -- it's a colorful world out there. You have to break out of the B&W etch-a-sketch portraits that your print brethen are so proud of. Maybe Mr. Murdock will read this and bring some color to the WSJ front page and to the WSJ Health Blog too!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Is a 3rd-Party "Seal of Approval" for Health Blogs Necessary?

Fard Johnmar, founder of healthcare marketing communications consultancy Envision Solutions, LLC and author of the blog HealthCareVox, just released results of a new study of the Health Blogosphere. Here are some snippets form the press release:

"According to a national survey we commissioned, the U.S. adult health blogging population currently stands at 13.6 million. (We defined health bloggers as people writing on blogs where at least at least 50% of posts focus on health-related topics.) In addition, the majority of health bloggers are female and 38% are either African American or Hispanic.

"Marketing activity taking place in the health blogosphere has increased. For example, the number of bloggers reporting inquiries from public relations professionals jumped 57% between 2006 and 2007. Also, respondents were more likely to report running advertising on their Weblogs.

Of course, these marketing trends will be cause for concern for some. However there is evidence many bloggers are operating ethically. Most respondents view statements by their peers critically. Yet the majority have great confidence health bloggers routinely disclose apparent and implied conflicts of interest.

Overall, these two studies indicate that the state of the health blogosphere is strong. Millions of Americans are writing health blogs. In addition, many are operating ethically."
However, at least one-third (34%) of respondents have low confidence that healthcare bloggers disclose conflicts of interest and about the same feel that running advertising on blogs negatively affects credibility (an equal number strongly disagree). [Compare these results with the 2007 Pharma Blogosphere Survey.]

At least one commenter to Fard's post announcing the report suggested that a "smidgen of regulatory oversight" might be called for:
"Seems to me that a 'credentialing' function or disinterested 3rd party seal of approval may filter the credible sites from the pumping crowd.

Privacy, legal and veracity issues notwithstanding, the horse is no doubt 'running on the range'. The question seems to be: how will market forces, tempered by voluntary enforcement of a code of ethics, coupled perhaps with a smidgen of regulatory oversight coalesce into an aggregate voice in the interest of public health?" -- Gregg Masters
[I note with amusement, that when you click on Gregg's name, you are brought to the site -- "Your trusted source for value in hospital and physician services..." -- which has no information about who produces the site, what the privacy policy is, and what, if any, conflicts of interest may exist.]

Is a "Seal of Approval" Needed for Health Blogs?
No, we don't need no stinkin' seal!
Yes, it is imperative!
Can't say one way or another
Maybe not a seal, but a "credo" or guidelines with signatories -- like the PhRMA Code

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pharma Blogger Profile: Chris Truelove - "former inked-stained wretch"

It's the end of summer and practically no-one is at work in the Pharma Blogosphere. But someone who always seems to have a heavy workload is Chris Truelove, a "meta-blogger" over at PharmaBlogReview where she endeavors "to sum up what other bloggers who look at the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries are writing about, combining news and personal views with discussion and a dash of humor."

According to her online profile:

"Chris is editor in chief of Med Ad News and R&D Directions, two leading trade magazines for the pharmaceutical industry. She is a former ink-stained wretch, having worked 10 years for the Times of Trenton as a reporter and copy editor, where her beats included local and state politics and local crime. She lives in the almost 300-year-old town of Bristol Borough, Pa., in a Victorian row home with her patient husband and three ever-shedding cats."
I hadn't realized that Chris was a former reporter, now a blogger. From local crime reporting to blogging about the pharmaceutical industry -- a giant leap or a small step? You be the judge.

The role of "meta-blogger" is often thankless and, as I've discovered, bloggers don't like being blogged about unless you have something positive to say about them and link back to their blogs.

In that regard, Chris does a great job and often finds gems in the Pharma Blogosphere that otherwise would not cross our radar screens. Lately, however, I notice that PharmaBlogReview posts lack Chris's own "personal views" and "dashes of humor."

C'mon Chris! Tell us MORE about what YOU think about what WE say in our blogs.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Drug Wonks' Wacko Comments!

Chris TrueLove over at Pharma Blog Review notes that she would make some comments about items written in DrugWonks this week, "but hackers and spambots seem to have taken over the comments pages. Go ahead and click on any item in the blog and you’ll see what I mean."

I did and this is what I found:

burlington baby depot promo code gray plain tiny myspace layouts medium layered bob mappa politica piemonte abante xerex xaviera diablo ii lod cheats www littelest pet shop com pine brothers cherry cough drops aaa livedoor jp futaba nasha aziz telanjang nude angel locsin maura rivera desnuda datuk azhar mansur free prewritten love letters torrent j ax buffie da body uncut kumpulan simpanan wang pekerja download dota maps dx wallpaper wwe 1st czech international celebrity feet
Obviously, the PR professionals in charge of Drug Wonks are asleep at the wheel. Chris, being the Good Samaritan that she is, even e-mailed Robert Goldberg about it.

Welcome Back CNTO411!

Just when I was going to post something about the inactivity over at Centocor's CNTO411 blog, I see that Michael Parks, Centocor's Vice President of Corporate Communications and now CNTO411's only voice, just submitted a post about "GeneRAtions," a new rheumatoid arthritis awareness program and web site.

Parks does not get into what he has been doing since he last made a post over 2 months ago on May 20, 2008. I guess this RA awareness program gobbled up much of his spare time.

Side note: Michael, I missed you at my networking dinner reception! Maybe you'd like to be a guest again on one of my Pharma Marketing Talk show and podcast interviews and talk about GeneRAtions?
The GeneRAtions web site has this visual time line, which is shown here (click to enlarge):

An attempt is made to personalize each generation with an image of a person representing that generation. All I can say is:

Mike, don't let John McCain see this!

While the "peacenik" depicted here was kinda what I was like in the 70's -- my grandmother called me Jesus because of my long hair, beard, sandals and beads -- it is not a politically correct image for John McCain who missed out on all the fun.

I see that a black woman was chosen to represent the new millenium geneRAtion, an image that I'm sure Barack and Michelle Obama would approve of.

Of course, it would be more interesting if it looked like this:

Which is more like how McCain sees the world today!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Like a Bad Penny, Jim Edwards is Back in the Pharma Blogosphere

"Like a bad penny, I have opened a new drug news blog, titled 'Jim Edwards’ NRx.'"

That's how Jim's email announcement, which all you bloggers out there have probably received, starts out.

You can find Jim's new blog at

It seems that Jim is simultaneously accepting freelance money from Brandweek--a company he used to work full-time for blogging--and yet claims his blog is "separate" from Brandweek. I think he means that he writes stories freelance for Brandweek and ALSO writes his blog, which is not financed by Brandweek and is independent of Brandweek.

Jim's blog tagline reads "Drug Business Stories the Media Hasn’t Written Yet." That could be interpreted two ways: (1) Jim beats the Media to the punch with important stories, and (2) Jim write stories that are too trivial for the Media. Both are acceptable niches for us bloggers.

Jim says in his email:

"Mainly, the blog will highlight stories that are under-reported or not reported at all. (As such, it is intended as a story idea sheet for media members.) It is not intended as a high traffic news-aggregator blog [Oh no, you dinnit! Look out Pharmalot and WSJ Health Blog!] – I’m looking to make no more than one post a day."
One interesting story Jim blogged about that probably fits interpretation #2 better than #1 is about PhRMA's new code for drug company interactions with physicians. In a July 18, 2008 post to his blog, Jim points out a loop hole that allows drug companies to still serve meals to physicians and be compliant with the code. He discovered this loophole by reading Lilly's press release about the code (see Jim's post: "Eli Lilly Kindly Points Out Loophole in the New Ban on Wining and Dining Docs").

But the MEDIA (ie, Brandweek) carried this story EIGHT days before and the story was written by the FREELANCE Jim (see "Drug Swag Gets Bagged"). So, technically, the Media Jim beat the blogger Jim to the punch! However, I first heard about it through Jim's blog -- I no longer read Brandweek since Jim and Peter Rost left.

Anyway here's the loophole as reported in Brandweek:
The rules also purport the ban on "token" consulting arrangements, in which doctors sign on as paid "consultants" in exchange for promises to write a certain number of prescriptions as part of a post-marketing evaluation. But the rules also say, "It is appropriate for consultants who provide advisory services to be offered reasonable compensation for those services and reimbursement for reasonable travel, lodging and meal expenses incurred as part of providing those services. Any compensation or reimbursement made in conjunction with a consulting arrangement should be reasonable and based on fair market value." Again, that leaves companies with wide latitude for interpretation.
Be Brutal, Says Jim
Jim wants feedback and says "As always, advice and criticism are welcome and encouraged. Go on, be brutal."

OK. Not that this criticism is brutal but I note the title of Jim's blog is, well, not too, how shall I say it, modest or catchy. I only mention this because Jim himself has criticized the title of other blogs like "Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look," which Jim claims is "badly named." Now, Jim, let's not call the kettle black!

BTW, Jim also has a penchant for personalizing other blogs -- like my blog ("Pharma Marketing Blog") and Peter Rost's blog ("The Pharma Law Blog"). Jim lists these blogs in his blogroll under "John Mack" and "Peter Rost."

Jim, it's an honor for my blog to be listed in your blogroll and thanks for that. However, I am not as famous -- or infamous -- as Peter Rost and I would like links to my blog to include the blog name, Pharma Marketing Blog. Bad name or not, it's the name of my blog.

While you're changing that listing, how about adding Pharma Blogosphere to your blog roll? I am adding yours to mine!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Are Employers Cracking Down on Pharma Blogs Written by Employees?

First I find that PharmaGiles is deceased (see "Wha Happened to PharmaGiles?") and now Pharma Fraud access is "by invitation only" and I haven't been invited!

Of course, I'm a conspiracy nut, so right away I sense that these two developments are NOT isolated and may be part of an effort by employers of these bloggers to reign their employees who speak out against the pharmaceutical industry via blogs.

[I assume that both these bloggers either work for pharmaceutical companies or agencies that make a living from the drug industry. I seem to recall reading that. I could be wrong. I hope also that whoever was writing PharmaGiles is not literally deceased!]
If true, this is much worse than AP going after bloggers about copyright infringement that Fard Johnmar over at Healthcare VOX and other bloggers in the Pharma BlogosphereTM recently railed against (see "The Battle Over Online Content").

Of course, there could be a completely different, reasonable explanation for these events.

What does your pharma "blogger radar" show?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wha Happened to Pharma Giles?

Have you tried linking to Pharma Giles blog at lately?

I get a "Pharma Giles (deceased)" message.

Anybody know what's going on?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New (to me) Blog: Patient Centric Healthcare

I am always searching the Pharma Blogosphere for comments and opinions I can quote in the articles I write for Pharma Marketing News. Sometimes, bloggers send me their comments directly. That's how I learned about The Patient Centric Healthcare Blog written by George Van Antwerp. He sent me his comments on why many pharmaceutical marketers ignore ROI and rely upon anecdotal evidence:

  1. They haven't been forced to;
  2. They don't clearly understand the success metrics and what is causality versus correlation; and
  3. They data is hard to get to using traditional mediums such as letters.
That being said. I have never had the luxury of launching programs without a way of tracking and demonstrating ROI. I haven't worked for pharma, but I have worked in the PBM and now HealthComm industry. It is possible (and difficult).
You can read more about Pharma Marketing ROI in the next issue of Pharma Marketing News. For a preview of that issue, click here.

Meanwhile, here's how George describes his blog:
This blog (formerly The Patient Advocate) contains my thoughts about healthcare. It is generally focused on marketing related issues from a patient perspective. After working in healthcare, my opinion is that most companies today think of patients as claims. I advocate that healthcare needs to be more like consumer products and think differently about how they interact...both for their own personal benefits and for the patients.
George may not have pharmaceutical companies and products top of mind when he says "healthcare needs to be more like consumer products." Who knows what the world would be like if that was how pharma marketers thought of their products? Come to think of it, that IS how they think! Still, it could be worse. See, for example, "Marketing Drugs Like Packaged Goods at the Super Bowl."

Let's give a hardy welcome to Patient Centric Healthcare, the newest member of the Pharma Blogosphere family!

Monday, June 30, 2008

My London Trip

Did you miss me when I was away in London? Well, I missed you!

Anyway, here are a few photos. First, here I am riding the "London Eye." No, not the beefy guy with tattoos on his arm! The other beefy guy, sitting down and staring directly into the camera. Those other dodos in the gondola with me didn't have a clue where the camera was located!

I had a nice visit with the folks at eyeforpharma, including Jessica Evans and Paul Simms shown in the photo below. This was taken on eyeforpharma's "roof garden." In the background is the "Gerken" building, famous for its pickles!

Speaking of food, right around the corner from eyeforpharma's headquarters was the S&M Cafe, which is famous for their "Sausage and Mash" shown below. I should have ordered the 3-sausage platter! You will notice that I know what I am doing -- you have to stir the "mushy peas" into the "mash" or else you risk being identified as a tourist! Of course, whipping out my camera and taking a flash photo of my lunch didn't help,

I watched the football game between Italy and Spain with these Italians at the "Hog in the Pond" pub. Too bad the game was so boring that I didn't stay around to the end to see the faces of these guys after Italy lost!

I stayed at the Cumberland Hotel shown below just behind the Marble Arch off of Oxford Street.

The lobby was decorated in a nouvelle riche style, by which I mean it was festooned with weird sculptures, neon floor lighting, and projected video images of businessmen and women flipping through the air in slow mo.

Too bad this 4-star hotel only came with one tiny round bar of soap, no washcloth, and no movie channel! At $400 per night, however, it was a bargain considering its location.

All in all, I had a great time!

Friday, June 27, 2008

'Round the Sphere: Pharma TV DTC Ads Offensive to Women?

While I was away in London this week, Richard Myer over at World of DTC Marketing sent me a copy of an email message he received from a reader of his blog who complained the that recent Evista TV ad, which shows menopausal women standing around wearing only towels, was "extremely offensive:"

I have been searching for who I should contact about the ad for Evista. I have seen it several times and want to say it is a very offensive ad. There are many women who have only a sheet wrapped around them.

This ad is very unbecoming and unnecessary to advertise medication. It once again adds to the lack of respect that the media has for women. Many of us are working for the dignity of women and ads such as this one destroys our efforts.
You can read Rich's take on this in the recent post entitled "Evista Ad Offensive?" I leave it up to you if the ad really is offensive to women.

No sooner than I was back home than I saw an unbranded fibromyalgia "disease awareness" ad by Pfizer. I definitely found this one disturbing in that it presented images of a bruised woman that looked very much like the battered woman syndrome posters and ads I have seen. See my post over at Pharma Marketing Blog entitled "Battered Woman Imagery in Pfizer's New Fibromyalgia Ad." Here's what I said about this ad:
"The whole thing smacked of desperation on Pfizer's part to sell more drugs and represents DTC advertising sinking to a new low in exploiting women's fears!"
Are these ads part and parcel of how pharma marketers view women or wish to appeal to their fears? I have noted previously that women were not portrayed very favorably in ads -- see "Women Need More Love, Less Drugs." Come to think of it, the ad I talk about in that post is another Pfizer ad -- a branded Lyrica ad!

Friday, June 20, 2008

I Invite "Insider" to Meet Up with Me in London Next Week

I'll be in London next week where I will be giving the keynote presentation at the Measuring Marketing ROI in Pharma conference being held at the Meridien on Piccadilly Street.

While there, I plan to meet up with a few people at various places around London -- see the Google Map I created to see the places I plan to visit.

Hey, Insider (aka Jack Friday, PharmaGossip Guy)! How about meeting me at the Itsu Japenese Restaurant near Piccadilly Circus (103-109 Wardour St)? I hear that's quite a famous place for international liaisons!

Monday, June 2, 2008

DTC Blogspectives: Another Pharma Meta Blog

Back in February, 2007, when I started Pharma BlogosphereTM -- a blog about blogging about the pharmaceutical industry -- it was the first ever "pharma meta blog." At the time, several bloggers questioned the wisdom of a blog about blogs. Today, however, there are at least 3 "blogs" in this category: this blog, Christine Truelove's "Pharma Blogs: Week in Review", and now Bob Ehrlich's Blog on Blogs, "DTC Blogspectives."

You may know Bob from such publications as DTC Perspectives magazine and his other blog, DTC-In-Perspective.

While the focus of Pharma Blogosphere blog is more about behind the scenes gossip and critique of bloggers in this space, the other two blogs summarize the content of pharma blogs. Truelove claims the her blog "monitors blogs so you don't have to..." (to which I have said "Truelove, Explain This Please!"). Ehrlich, on the other hand, claims his blog "is not a blog recap per se, but my editorial spin, comment, rebuttal or agreement with those bloggers."

Which seems to mean that Ehrlich will now compete with me! But only within the DTC space. Now that DTC spending is on the wane -- having DECREASED by about 5% in 2007 (see "Professional Advertising Doing Well. DTC? Not So Much!") -- Ehrlich's focus must be viewed as a niche category.

As far as I can tell, DTC Blogspectives does not yet have a Web home, but is only delivered by e-mail. So, to introduce you to this new "blog," I reproduce it in its entirety below (Bob does not like to be quoted out of context):

Welcome to our first issue of Blogspectives. Bi-weekly I will comment on health blogs that discuss pharmaceutical marketing, public policy, and consumer trends and behavior. This is not a blog recap per se, but my editorial spin, comment, rebuttal or agreement with those bloggers.

I scan what I believe are relevant blogs to the DTC Perspectives audience. There are hundreds of health blogs but about 10-20 that specifically cover our industry. I plan to provide Blogspectives twice a month for now and perhaps weekly in the future.

What better way to start a blog on blogs than to report that John Mack of the Pharma Marketing Blog (5/27) wonders whether the little guy blogger can compete with corporate sponsored blogs such as Pharmalot and the Wall Street Journal . He believes that their resources allow them to report more scoops first. While that is true, the independent blogger can comment on news stories and create new perspectives about an event or issue. I do not usually discover news and see myself as adding depth to a news story. I have no doubt the independent health blogger is still needed.

In recapping the House hearings of May 9, Pharmaceutical Executive's Patri ck Clinton comments the hearings were inconclusive as expected. He believes the real issue is whether DTC causes inappropriate prescribing which he believes has not been answered yet. He also believes the industry claims that DTC educates in a balanced way is “mostly absurd.” I agree with Mr. Clinton. DTC for specific brands is meant to sell product as evidenced by management demanding positive ROI. It is not educational in its mission although PhRMA uses that term in its statements defending DTC. Branded ads may educate but that is not why they fund DTC. It is to sell more product. Nothing wrong with that, except it sounds better to say it is educational. I remember former Pfizer executive Pat Kelly wanting to replace the term DTC with HIFC, (health information for consumers), because of the negative associations with the DTC. It never caught on because it is what it is. DTC is advertising that contains health information.

On the same subject, Merrill Goozner of Gooz News (5/12) references the hearings in asking who stopped the FDA from pulling Procrit ads claiming reduced fatigue from chemotherapy, a non FDA approved claim. He mentions Dan Troy, FDA counsel at the time, and now working for a firm representing J&J, Procrit's maker. Goozner wrote the the Industry critical book “The $800 Million Pill,” calling into question the drug industry cited cost of R&D. Troy definitely was a champion of limiting FDA power while there but I believe he felt the limits were based on not violating commercial free speech and not because he was in the pocket of the drug industry.

Alison Bass, author of a new book “Side Effects,” the critical story of Paxil and GlaxoSmithKline, covered the House hearing in her 5/11 blog . Her take is that it is unlikely that new regulation will come out of the hearing. Her blog reports mostly on Professor Ruth Day's negative testimony that side effects are presented in DTC to minimize comprehension. Ms. Bass ends with her bleak assessment “it looks like American consumers are going to continue to be distracted” citing Day's example of Nasonex and the flapping wings of its bee icon during the side effects reading.

CNBC's blogger Mike Huckman (5/12) was perplexed by the new bed sheet Evista commercial that promotes reducing the risk of breast cancer as well as the old indication for Osteoporosis. He said “there was something about it that just doesn't sit right.” He says the commercial was unsettling because of how many women looked like they were on Botox. I admit it is an unusual execution but as I said in my column on May 23 , I liked it for its stopping power and clear message. Mr. Huckman's blog had a survey and 54% of the 507 respondents said the ad is fine, while 36% said it was kind of weird. Only Lilly will know for sure if the ad works but my guess is it will, weird or not.

Maggie Mahar, in her Healthbeat Blog (5/21 takes on DTC for medical devices. Ms. Mahar, author of an excellent book on health care policy called “Money Driven Medicine,” feels J&J's DTC for the Cypher stent can cause significant friction between surgeons and patients. Here, she says, DTC goes beyond pill ads because use of a particular medical device requires specialized knowledge. She also says the reason for DTC may be because the Cypher stent has a higher rate of problems and DTC demand creation can help put pressure on surgeons to use it. I doubt any surgeon will use the stent just because a patient mentions it because it is a more serious decision versus a pill choice. I also doubt a patient would push a surgeon on a brand of medical device, because this is not a simple choice of prescribing a consumer requested anti-histamine or proton pump inhibitor.

In the Wall Street Journal (5/28) blog by Scott Hensley , he reports that a review of media stories on health yields unsatisfactory results. The study, done by , shows media stories fail to do a good job discussing cost, evidence of efficacy, alternative treatments, and risks and benefit trade-offs. They analyzed 500 stories and made their subjective assessment. While I did not examine 500 stories, it seems to me that consumers get a lot of coverage on high drug costs and risks of their prescriptions. The reviewers of the stories are doctors, public health experts and a professor of journalism.

On , Jane Sarasohn-Kahn congratulates Viagra on its 10 th anniversary. She points out that Viagra “reshaped pharmaceutical marketing. The company used direct-to-consumer advertising to great effect.” I do not agree that Viagra reshaped marketing. It received so much free publicity that consumer awareness was achieved without a lot of DTC spending. It did later use DTC to help add new users and probably had positive ROI. Like many observers of DTC, Ms. Sarasohn-Kahn overstates its impact. Viagra was a successful drug before any DTC money was spent. In fact so was Lipitor, also commonly quoted as a drug built by DTC.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm Barack Obama and I Approve this Message

Just kidding! I'm just tired of all the phone calls from the Barack campaign here in PA! I thought after I told them I would be voting for Hilary that they'd stop calling, but noooo! That was like putting a sign on may back saying "kick me!" This is just my method of payback!

After collecting 250 votes, my little survey of readers regarding the pharma industry recession is not so little anymore! Exactly two-thirds of respondents (67%) believe the drug industry is in a recession (click on the image above to enlarge and review all responses).

You can take the survey too -- just look for it in the right-hand column (scroll down if necessary).

4th Annual (2008)
Networking Dinner Reception

Got a Plan to Survive This?
If the drug industry is in a recession, we all need a plan to deal with downsizing. As I have said before, part of any survival plan is to get out there and network, network, network. Pharma Marketing Network is pitching in and organizing a networking dinner reception in Princeton, NJ from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM on Wednesday, June 4, 2008. The location is the Princeton Marriott.

For more information, see the "4th Annual (2008) Networking Dinner Reception" Web site.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 7, 2008

If Blogging were an Rx Drug, It would be Pulled from the Market

Or, at least, Senator Grassley would be calling for an investigation right about now.

The New York Times reports on the untimely death of two bloggers in a recent article:

"To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style."

See "In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop."

Thursday, April 3, 2008

'Round the Sphere: Free Speech No Match for Big Pharma

There's a brouhaha going around the Pharma BlogosphereTM about an anti-GSK YouTube video posted by Bob Fiddaman, a UK blogger. Several denizens of the Sphere have taken up the cause as a "free speech" issue:

Glaxo, An Angry Blogger And Free Speech

and this list provided by PharmaGossip (find the links here):

  • Does GSK Love Bad Publicity? (Clin Psych Blog)
  • Video sets GlaxoSmithKline Hounds to Intimidate British Blogger (AHRP Blog)
  • This U.S.A. blog supports Bob Fiddaman (Soulful Sepulcher)
  • Glaxo Smith Kline (Bipolar Blast)
  • It's Groundhog Day for bullying by GlaxoSmithKline over Seroxat (Scientific Misconduct Blog)
  • GSK Lawyers target Seroxat campaigner Bob Fiddaman (Seroxat Secrets)
  • Tony Nunn
  • Intimidation: a standard tactic? (Matt Holford)
  • Glaxo Goes After British Blogger's Video (Furious Seasons)
  • GSK Video - The Aftermath
At issue, of course, is stifling of dissent. The weapon used is trademark infringement and copyright. Fiddaman used the GSK logo in his video and hence was nailed for unauthorized use of a trademark.

It's very intimidating getting a letter like this from a fortune 500 corporation with a legion of lawyers at their beck and call. Bloggers, unlike journalists working for other big corporations with their own legions of lawyers, have very little choice but to comply.

Also, the ,aw makes some exception for the use of a trademark in the press, I believe. By press, I mean people who own real presses like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Bloggers don't qualify!

[Just few ways that journalism differ from bloggism and why a blogger, working on his or her own, can never be as resourceful and his speech as protected as a journalist's free speech.]

I have also received a few cease and desist letters, but none from big pharma companies, thank God!

Most recently, I received a letter regarding my use of a photo showing a Jarvik rowing double on the set where a Lipitor commercial was being shot. You recall all the hoopla about Jarvik not being a rower, right? If not, see "Jarvik Can't Prescribe and Can't Row a Boat, But Can He Sell?". I can't be sure, but maybe Pfizer was behind it.

This photo was copyright, so I was told, and I must remove it. So I did. No big deal, the cat was already out of the box and Jarvik was already off the air.

I wonder, however, how many other bloggers out there have received such letters and complied without having any other recourse?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

'Round the Sphere: Mothballs and a High Source

What's the difference between an award-winning journalist blogger and a plain old blogger? The journalist blogger can call the CEO of Sepracor and get a quote, the plain old blogger has to rely on his wits and talk to the non-C suite employees to get his information.

Yesterday, Ed Silverman and I were speakers at an industry conference where we learned something about the Lunesta ad campaign from an inside source.

Ed left the meeting promptly after his panel and I thought he would surely beat me to the punch and blog about what we learned at the conference.

But no! I beat him to the punch and published my story first last night (see "Sepracor Not So Keen to Spend Big on DTC for Its Next Product!") whereas Ed didn't get his story out until this afternoon (see "The Lunesta Moth Won’t Be Mothballed... Yet")! I believe that's called a "scoop" in journalism as in I "scooped Ed!"

How did that happen?

Here's my take on it: Ed wanted that quote from Adrian Adams, Sepracor’s ceo. This is what journalists call "checking your sources," or something like that. But mostly, it's a courtesy call. You never know when access to that ceo can come in handy later for another story!

But Ed had to wait for Adrian's quote. First, Adrian had to get the back story and check with David Lapinski, Associate Director, Commercial Analytics at Sepracor who spilled the beans about the moth at the conference and who was the source of information for the moth story, which I anticipated long before I heard it from him (see "Lunesta Moth Being Mothballed as a Result of Negative Marketing ROI").

Then Adrian had to meet with Sepracor's corporate communications person who would actually compose the words to be quoted.

Finally, Adrian called Ed and gave him the quote.

Meanwhile, here's what I did. I talked to some Sanofi-Aventis marketing people at lunch during the conference and got a few other tidbits ofinformation. Of course, these sources could not be quoted.

When you want to really know what's going on in a company, who should you talk to? The CEO? Or should you bypass him and seek out more reliable sources?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pharma Bloggers Gotta Get Tweeting on Twitter!

I recently discovered Twitter -- a free social networking and micro-blogging service -- and admit that "I'm All a Twitter About Twitter."

Twitter ... allows users to send "updates" (or "tweets"; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service (e.g. on a cell phone), instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific or Facebook.

Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends (delivery to everyone is the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application. For SMS, four gateway numbers are currently available: short codes for the USA, Canada, and India, as well as a UK number for international use. Several third parties offer posting and receiving updates via email.

You can see my recent "tweets" in the Twitter blog widget in the right hand column. Here are some recent gems:
  • Today's publication day for Pharma Marketing News -- see preview here: less than a minute ago
  • Got some pushback on my Lunesta ROI analysis -- we just don't have the real numbers I'm told! Does anybody have the numbers? about 17 hours ago
  • @saranne03 "If Jack's in love, he's no judge of Jill's beauty." -- Ben Franklin. Could be applied to how FDA relates to drug industry. about 17 hours ago
  • My Twitter pals agree. FDA is not keeping up with the times! But I must say that FDA can learn a lot more from Ben Franklin than H. Ford! about 20 hours ago
  • FDA's Woodcock: "We must learn from Henry Ford" Wha! Let's see, wasn't Ford ANTI-REGULATORY? So last century any way!
Posting my tweets in this blog and over at Pharma Marketing Blog is an easy way to let my readers know what I am thinking about right now. You can also visit my Twitter page at From there you can also see the tweets of my Twitter "pals," who are people I have chosen to be on that list. Currently, there are 26 people that I "follow" and there are 19 people following me. NO bloggers from the Pharma BlogosphereTM, however, is a fellow tweeter.

Anthony Bianciella, VP of Marketing at MTI, who turned me on to Twitter, asked if I find it more valuable than standard blogging or more as an equal "partner" that enhances what you do?

My answer was this:
"Twitter can never replace my blog. But I'm finding it good for networking, getting leads on stories, passing along opportunities to people that follow me, promoting what I am doing, and keeping a record of my thoughts, which is important as you get older! I think it's cool that I can feed all my tweets to a widget on my blogs and web site as well as post the RSS feed to a special forum I set up: "Mack and His Twitter Pals!", which is already driving a lot of traffic to the forums site!
Viral Social Marketing at Its Best!
Eventually, Twitter will offer ad space just like ads found on Google search pages. The ads will be served based on keywords found in tweets. For example, imagine I posted this:
"Plan to call my doctor today about Zetia, Should I stop taking it?"
Lo and behold, when that person visits his/her Twitter page the next time, there's an ad for Zetia -- or better yet, Crestor! Not only on that page, but on the pages of that person's list of people!

You can only imagine what the limits for such viral social marketing are!

Join me at

Friday, March 21, 2008

Centocor: First Pharma Company to Profile Employees on a Blog

Any one who knows me, knows that I have been championing the notion of pharmaceutical company employee blogging for a long time (see, for example, "A Primer on Pharma Employee Blogging") and more recently I have challenged Centocor to give employees a voice on their CNTO411 Blog (see "Centocor: Let Thy Employees Speak!").

Lo and Behold! Today marks the first employee profile on a drug company's public blog that I know of. See "A Conversation with Greg Keenan, M.D., Worldwide Medical Affairs Immunology Research."

Now that’s what I’m talking about! More profiles like this are bound to give us a better image of Centocor’s core values, which ultimately are based upon the views and values of its employees.

NEXT STEP: Try a more catchy title like "Centocor's Greg Keenan Cares About Patients and Also Likes Chinese Food and Wild Turkey." Uh, the bird, not the bourbon!

Monday, March 17, 2008

'Round the Sphere: The "R" Word

Several bloggers have picked up on the analysis by IMS, which indicated that Drug sales in the U.S. grew at their slowest pace since 1961 (see "Drug Sales in U.S. Grow at Slower Pace").

This, IMS says, is due to "cheaper copies of top-selling medicines [flooding] the market and U.S. regulators [approving] fewer new products."

Meanwhile, there seems to be a question if generic drugs are as good as brand name drugs (see "Are Generics Worse Than Brand-Name Drugs?" over at WSJ Health Blog). If generics are not competitive to brand name drugs, then market forces should be working in favor of the brand name drug industry.

Also, that remark about regulators approving fewer brand name drugs is deceptive: it could be that drug companies are submitting fewer NDAs for approval! Which leads me to ask over at Pharma Marketing Blog "Is the Pharma Industry in a Recession?" What do you think? Take the poll over there at the top of the right hand column.

Pharm Aid blog today asks: "Has Pharma Hit the Bottom?," which is a weird idea considering economists are just now agreeing the rest of the U.S. economy is in recession!

"In financial markets," says Pharm Aid, "you usually hit the bottom when the news is the worst. And the news can’t get much worse for pharma."
How's that? There was still GROWTH last year, but at a SLOWER pace. Recession, on the other hand, means DECLINE. And that's what I am asking. Will there be a decline in drug sales across the board?

Maybe not. But there could be decline in pharma advertising and marketing spending. Wouldn't that be worse? (Worse for me, anyway.)

Anyway, just thought I'd throw this out there for discussion.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

'Round the Sphere: Pharma Let Thy People Speak!

Pharmaceutical Exceutive Magazine's PharmExec Direct Marketing Edition -- not quite a blog, but close enough -- as well as other blogs in the Pharma BlogosphereTM, have picked up on the CNTO411 story (see "Centocor Enters Blogosphere").

I was quoted in the article:

"As far as blogs go, CNTO411 is a small step for a blog, maybe a giant leap for pharma," Pharma Marketing Blog writer John Mack stated on his site. He told Pharm Exec on Tuesday that it might be a mistake to have the key authors of the J&J blogs be communications personnel and that if the company really wants to spark reader attention, then they should have scientists and researchers blogging.
Melissa Katz and Michael Parks of Centocor are getting a some feedback on the issue of employee blogging and they have responded -- somewhat -- to my suggestion that they allow Centocor's employees to have a voice on the blog.

So, with apologies to the Old Testament of the Bible, specifically Exodus 8:1, I offer this:

"And the Blogosphere spake unto Katz and Parks, go unto Centocor's President, and say unto him, thus saith the Blogosphere, Let our employees speak, that they may serve you."

I also composed a new Pharma Blogosphere Spirtual, which you can find on Pharma Marketing Blog: Centocor: Let Thy Employees Speak!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Daily Diagnosis - A New Blog from NY Daily News

Finally, a conservative newspaper has joined the Pharma BlogosphereTM! It's Daily Diagnosis from the New York Daily News.

Here's the welcoming blog post:
If death is the great equalizer, good health is the ultimate privilege. And while we can’t change our DNA, scientists every day are giving us new ways of maximizing what we’re born with.

The Daily Diagnosis will offer perspective and context on the ever-changing world of medicine. It will chronicle treatment breakthroughs, political controversies and the wrenching dilemmas that make health-care a universal experience. It will highlight science for its own sake and the personalities that give it life. And it will offer a forum for you — the health-care consumers who experience the system in all its strengths and weaknesses. Welcome.
Let's have some fun and compare the POVs -- viz-a-viz political slant -- of this blog vs. the WSJ Health Blog and NJ Sar-Ledger's Pharmalot!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Pfizer Hijacks Rosts' Links?!

I just noticed that when I try to access Peter Rosts' Question Authority Blog by typing in, my clickstream gets hijacked so that I end up on the Pfizer Web site.

Very strange!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What's Next? I'm Bored!

I'm getting bored with pharmaceutical company corporate blogs! See my rant on Pharma Marketing Blog: "Centocor Blog - No Frying Pan and No Fire!"

What's next from pharma, viz-a-viz Web 2.0 ventures such as blogs, podcasts, RSS, social networks, etc?

C'mon. Make some predictions.

I suppose we'll have to wait another 6 months or a year before a pharmaceutical company launches another me-too corporate blog!

Before my pharma friends do that, I suggest they Rate Their Social Media Pharma Marketing Readiness and compare their score to these AVERAGES:

  • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT: 28.0 (out of 45 total possible)
  • CORPORATE CULTURE SHOCK: 12.7 (out of 25 total possible)
  • KNOWLEDGE: 13.8 (out of 25 total possible)

Podcast Special Guest: Centocor's Michael Parks

Michael Parks, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Centocor, Inc. and the brains behind CNTO411 (see "CNTO411: A New Pharmaceutical Company Blog") plans to be a guest on today's Pharma Marketing Talk podcast about Centocor's new blog.

After Jack Friday threw down the gauntlet by launching his counter-blog CentocorGossip (see "CentocorGossip: An 'Unofficial' Centocor Blog!") Michael just could not miss the excitement.

Hope you join us for this LIVE podcast and online CHAT session today a 2 PM Eastern.

I will be interviewing Melissa Katz and Michael Parks in a Pharma Marketing Talk podcast on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 at 2 PM. To learn more about this and get instructions for listening in and participating in this podcast, please click here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

CentocorGossip: An "Unofficial" Centocor Blog!

Just when Centocor thought it successfully maneuvered into the Pharma BlogosphereTM by launching the CNTO411 blog (see "CNTO411: Centocor's Groundbreaking Blog"), we learn that PharmaGossip's Insider has set up a shadowy blog on the Blogger server called "CentocorGossip (ie,"

[Whoops! Looks like Centocor forgot to register "". I also cannot find a trademark registration for CNTO411. I guess the lesson is: when you launch a Web site with a unique name, you also need to register as the owner of the blogspot name to prevent critics from potentially hijacking traffic or using the same name to launch a counter-offensive blog!]
The first -- and maybe the last -- posting to CentocorGossip is titled "Helping Centocor with its blogging" and states:
How, you ask?

By letting readers find all of PharmaGossip's posts about Centocor in one easy to find place.
The rest is an old post from PharmaGossip about off-label marketing of Remicade, Centocor's potent treatment for rheumatoid arthritis plus a link that searches all of PharmaGossip for posts about Centocor.

To paraphrase Thomas Paine: "Those who expect to reap the blessings of Web 2.0 must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

In its opening post to CNTO411 Melissa Katz, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Centocor, stated her blog's mission:
"Many pharma companies have been reluctant to jump into the blogging space because of potential or perceived risks. We have started this blog because there are so many interesting things happening at our company, in our industry, and especially around immunology – the area in which we play. Although you can read about these things in the news or on other healthcare blogs, we want to join that conversation, because we have much to say."
Centocor must now undergo the fatigue of supporting the blogging tradition and its own blogging mission by engaging in a conversation started by PharmaGossip. Hopefully, Melissa et al have anticipated this in their contingency plans and will be able to respond in kind. I will definitely ask her about this in my upcoming podcast conversation with her:

I will be interviewing Melissa in a Pharma Marketing Talk podcast on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 at 2 PM. To learn more about this and get instructions for listening in and participating in this podcast, please click here.
P.S. We can all watch how the pioneers at Centocor handle this, but what other pharma companies can learn from it and apply to their own case depends upon their own unique corporate culture, regulatory risk-taking attitude and knowledge of the Web 2.0 world. To find out more about your readiness to engage in social media, you may want to use the "Rate Your Social Media Marketing Readiness Survey/Tool" developed by Pharma Marketing News.

P.P.S. Thank you Insider for alerting me to your new blog!