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!