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!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

CNTO411: A New Pharmaceutical Company Blog

Centocor -- a J&J company that was the first to produce a feature length disease awareness documentary ("Innerstate") -- has just launched a new corporate blog that may break new ground in pharmaceutical company blogging. It's called "CNTO411".

The brains and bloggers behind CNTO411 are Melissa Katz, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Centocor and her boss, Michael Parks, Vice President of Corporate Communications.

Here's an excerpt from the Inaugural Blog Posting:

“Why Centocor?” and “Why now?” Many of you may read John Mack’s blog, Pharma Marketing Blog. Almost a year ago, he blogged about the first of its kind patient education documentary film we made called Innerstate ( “No Oscar for Centocor PR Effort” [Feb. 26] and “The Innerstate DVD. Is TV Next?” [May 21]). Michael Parks, our VP of Communications who also produced the film, broke the traditional news comment mold and used the blog forum to respond to the comment and correct some inaccuracies by putting forth Centocor’s perspective and facts. In addition, he treated this blogger as we did every other journalist and let him screen the film. These small acts may appear to the casual observer to be incidental transactions, but for us, it was a big deal. Why? Because by engaging in a dialogue with John Mack in real time, he was able to immediately correct mis-information, provide the facts, and thus, give John a reason to restate his perspective.

How could he do that? Is that allowed? Should we be doing that? And what will the backlash be? Nobody knew. But that’s what pioneers do: they forge a path through the wilderness and hope they aren’t going to fall over a cliff.
I am flattered to be mentioned in this first post to CNTO411 and to be an inspiration for its launch. You can read more about my relationship to Michael, Melissa, and Innerstate on Pharma Marketing Blog (see "CNTO411: Centocor's Groundbreaking Blog").

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.
Of course, Melissa and Michael owe a lot to Marc Monseau who started up the J&J corporate blog, JNJ BTW, in June 2007 (see "'Round the Sphere: Pharmaco Blogs and Carlat's Crusade").

Michael and Melissa promise to comment on Centocor product-specific news or issues on CNTO411, which would make it the first pharmaceutical blog to do so for prescription drugs, which are heavily regulated. How they plan to do this without "falling over a cliff" remains to be seen (REMICADE is mentioned in the inaugural posting). I hope Melissa will share some insights on that in my upcoming podcast interview.