Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Can You Read This "Fair Balance" on Race With Insulin Twitter Page, or Is It Just Me Having Problems?

The "Race with Insulin" branded Twitter account is old news (listen to this podcast "Novo Nordisk's Race With Insulin Campaign: It's Not Just About Twitter").

Celebrity racecar driver and Levemir spokesperson Charlie Kimball is still posting interesting and informative tweets such as "Heading to bed. Just used my Levemir® FlexPen®. For Levemir® (insulin detemir [rDNA origin]) prescribing Info:" and Novo Nordisk is making the rounds at industry conferences describing how they were able to do this while staying within FDA regulatory boundaries.

I am not going to complain about "sleazy spam tweets" and wonder what value such tweets are to patients. Instead, I'd like to point out how UNREADBALE the "fair balance" (safety) information is on the Race With Insulin Twitter page, which you can find here. I've reproduced that part of the page on the left. 

I challenge you to read this either using this image or viewing the original statement on the Race With Insulin Twitter page. It's impossible!

Novo Nordisk should realize that many people with diabetes are older and may have vision problems made worse by diabetes. For the sake of these patients, shouldn't Novo make this safety information more readable?

I also think the FDA should take an interest in this and issue Novo Nordisk a "warning letter" as it has done in other cases where fair balance information is not as prominent as benefit information.

To be fair, however, the Twitter page shows no "benefit" statements at all! It just mentions the medical condition and the brand name. Technically, therefore, while the safety information is required by the FDA, it's probably OK with the FDA that it is unreadable because there is no benefit statements to compare it with. What a dilemma!

This is a case where the pharma company should go beyond what is merely required by the regulators and provide a useful service to the patients who are using their products. What do you think?


  1. Hey John,

    I totally agree with your perspective. However, they've revamped their Twitter profile. Someone over there must have had inside information about your upcoming story.

    John Wes Green

  2. They did revamp, but have not enlarged the fair balance info as far as I can see.

  3. Hi John,

    As I'm sure you know, Twitter doesn't allow for scrolling background images, which is what that is, an image or jpeg photo.

    We wanted to be sure we provided the entire ISI on the page, which we have done. We also designed the page for multiple browsers, as again, Twitter looks different on different computers, and versions of Explorer, etc. So it HAS to be that size to ensure you can see it on most browsers.

    As we've discussed before, I welcome ideas for how we can make improvements on the page. I am happy you pointed out that we are not making product claims on this page, only mentions of the brands that Charlie takes. Like I have been telling people on these "rounds" you mentioned, our strategy is much larger than just Twitter.

    Again, we're here, still learning and welcome the conversation.

    Take care,
    Ambre Morley
    Novo Nordisk

    P.S. John Wes- we did update the page 2-3 months ago, with images of Charlie's car, suit and race schedule for 2010.

  4. Ambre,

    Thanks for your input.

    I appreciate the dilemma. Perhaps if you focused on just one product, you would have enough room for a completely readable ISI.

    But there's plenty of room to fit larger type if you scroll down the page.

    Although I cannot read it, I assume the language is also not patient friendly. If so, maybe a better version could be written.

    You guys are smart. I'm sure you can figure out how to do this.


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