Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Novel Approach to Communicating with Physicians

That's the title of a Pharma Marketing News article I wrote some time ago about "a patent-pending technology" developed by a company called MagicMedia Communications. It offers a novel way for pharmaceutical sales representatives to "talk" to a doctor…even when face-to-face discussion is not possible!

I didn't give the secret away in the summary of the article, but I can now tell you that it was a "talking greeting card." You've probably seen Hallmark Cards TV ads that show someone recording a personalized audio message on a card they will send to a friend or relative. Cute!

That was the idea behind what MagicMedia was offering to pharmaceutical companies. The idea was to leave behind a card with a sales message when the physician was too busy to see the rep. The original idea was to allow the sales rep to compose a unique message for each physician. I saw problems, however, with this idea and advised the company that pharmaceutical companies must carefully control what sales reps say to physicians because of regulations prohibiting off-label communications among other worries. The product was redesigned so that the messages were pre-recorded by the sales rep and pre-approved by the legal/regulatory people. The message could not be recorded over in the field, or so I was told.

Direct Mail PharmaUnabomber Wannabee
Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is because of a story I read in the San Diego Union Tribune about a talking greeting card sent to a medical office by a pharmaceutical company. It was news-worthy only because a medical receptionist heard "ticking" coming from a mailbox in which the card was delivered. Here's the complete story:
Ticking card greets bomb squad

The ticking noise that brought a bomb squad to a Carmel Valley medical building Monday turned out to be a small battery in a greeting card.

The card, from a pharmaceutical company promoting its products, said "Your time is up" on the cover, San Diego fire spokesman Maurice Luque said.

A receptionist at Children's Medical Group office in the three-story building on El Camino Real heard ticking coming from a mailbox in the hallway about 4 p.m. She called 911 and security officers evacuated the building.

The Metro Arson Strike Team bomb squad and a U.S. Postal Service inspector were called in, Luque said. The greeting card was removed and opened, and the battery inside was found to have been damaged.

Luque said the card was addressed to a doctor who no longer worked there. The Postal Inspector was going to contact the pharmaceutical company about their promotional efforts.
Ed Silverman over at Pharmalot called this "Just Another Dumb Promotion." Dumb indeed! The first rule of direct mail campaigns is make sure your list is current and accurate! Sending such expensive promo items to doctors that aren't there is really dumb. OK, the message "You're Time is UP" on the envelope and the "ticking" were just as dumb. One wonders how such a campaign made it through legal/regulatory review!

I also wonder which is the pharmaceutical company, aka PharmaUnabomber wannabee, NOT mentioned in the article? Amylin Pharmaceuticals is headquartered in San Diego. Inquiring minds want to know!

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:17 PM

    Ha! I guess that's another reason more communication should be digital

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  2. Anonymous1:21 PM

    This is not funny at all. Imagine what would have happened if the package had been carried through airport security?

    This idea not only failed legal/regulatory review, it failed the common sense test!

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  3. That's only slightly scarier than a pharma rep on Zoloft actually walking through the door of the doctor's office with a coat on. Who knows what kinds of weapons could be hidden under the coat or in his drug briefcase.

    ReplyDelete