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.

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