Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pfizer is Responsible for 18% of My Spam Email!

This @pfizer_news tweet recently came to my attention:
"Pfizer, MHRA and partners anti-spam investigation FB page: http://on.fb.me/g5ULdX #realdanger"
I have been following Pfizer's campaign against counterfeit drugs for some time (see, for example, "Was a Rat Harmed in the Filming of This Pfizer Commercial?"). This "anti-spam investigation" is the latest phase of that campaign.

The Facebook page offers the report "You've Got Life-Threatening Mail" (find it here), which summarizes a study that involved 65 members of the public who volunteered to donate all their spam emails to the security teams at Pfizer and the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency -- UK's version of the FDA).

According to the introduction of this report "Spam – or unsolicited mail – is a common way fraudsters target members of the public with black market medicines. In fact, nearly 25% – that’s 15 billion messages – of all spam emails advertise medicines."

"Gareth" -- just one of the "Spam Donors" (watch out for typos there!) -- received 87 spam emails, of which 18% offered medicine. Poor "Dawn" received 228 spam emails, 9% of which offered medicine.

I decided to look in my own spam folder to see if I received any offers for Rx products. That folder currently contains over 4,000 emails (1 week's worth). I searched this folder for any email that mentioned "cholesterol" and found about 27:



I picked one with the subject line "Cholesterol is not just a number." Here's how that message looked:


I wanted to "GET THE FACTS," of course, so I clicked on that and here's the Web site that link lead me to:


The first item on the list -- "Learn About Cholesterol and a Cholesterol-Lowering Treatment" -- brought me to (you guessed it!) this LIPITOR Web page:


It took me a few clicks, but I found that Pfizer is one of those companies responsible for some (OK, maybe NOT 18%) of the SPAM email that I get!

It's ironic that Pfizer is trying to alert consumers about the dangers of spam email when they themselves are responsible for some of this spam. Of course, LIPITOR is not a dangerous counterfeit medication that is offered without a prescription via lipitor.com. Technically, therefore, Pfizer's spam would not qualify to be included in its report on "Life-threatening Mail." But it's still SPAM paid for by Pfizer!

I did a little more investigation to see if I could find out where my spam cholesterol email was coming from.

In the box at the end of the email is a "dotmedia" logo. That lead me to this site. But a note at the bottom of my spam email said "You are receiving this email from InterG Media." The top Google search result on "InterG Media" lead me to this WHOSIS domain registration data:

REGISTRANT CONTACT INFO
InterG Media
Domain Admin
1154 N. Sycamore Ave.
Suite 11
Los Angeles

BILLING CONTACT INFO
Adknowledge
Domain Admin
4600 Madison Ave.
1000
Kansas City

I ignored the REGISTRANT CONTACT and went straight to BILLING CONTACT INFO to find "Adknowledge," the entity that pays the bills. On its website (here) I discovered that Adknowledge claims to be the "leading long tail marketplace." Here's more "About" them:
"Adkowledge, the fourth largest advertiser marketplace, specializes in performance-based marketing solutions utilizing its powerful predictive technology and completely anonymous consumer response patterns to connect advertisers with consumers across multiple channels, including email, search, domains, and social networks. With over 60 terabytes of anonymous consumer behavior data, our proprietary targeting systems run over 20 billion calculations per day to determine what ad to show to each consumer. Over 10,000 advertisers use the Adknowledge ad network to promote their offers."
OK. From this, here's how I see Pfizer being a perpetrator of SPAM.

Obviously, the money to pay for my SPAM email has to come directly or indirectly from the marketers of the products advertised, which includes LIPITOR/Pfizer. I don't think Pfizer is paying InterG Media, the entity that supposedly sent me the email. InterG Media is probably just the technical geniuses behind Adknowledge's "predictive technology." No, someone hired Adknowledge -- maybe it was Pfizer itself or maybe it was a "media buyer" hired by Pfizer (or its LIPITOR ad agency of record) to send ads to consumers via the Internet.

What's the lesson learned? When you get SPAM email -- "threatening" or not -- you have to find the "long tail" back to who pays the piper. As Deep Throat said "follow the money."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New PhRMA Survey of Physicians: Are Sales Reps as "Useful" as PhRMA Wants Us to Believe?

"New Survey Emphasizes Value of Biopharmaceutical Company Engagement With Healthcare Providers" is the main point PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing Association - the industry trade association) emphasized in its press release (here) regarding a survey of physicians it sponsored. PhRMA also pointed out that nearly 9 out of 10 physicians considered company-sponsored peer education programs to be "up-to-date, useful and reliable."

That's good news for pharmaceutical marketers who spent $24 billion between October 2009 and September 2010 on physician-targeted promotional spending, not including nearly $1 billion on continuing medical education (more data on promotional spending will appear in a Pharma Marketing News article to be published later today). It's good news because the survey justifies devoting the bulk of that promotional spend to support physician detailing by sales reps.

Of course, it's always educational to go beyond the PR and the trade publication stories that merely rephrase the PR (eg, this story) to learn something new, even some things the drug industry may not want you to learn.

For instance, look at this survey result that PhRMA doesn't mention:

What I notice is that only 22% of physicians surveyed said that patient access to the care they need is "working best." There is some survey results interpretation issues here, but it seems that access to care may be a problem in the US according to physicians. And without access to care, everything else -- including the value of medicines, the quality of care in general, and the value of pharmaceutical sales reps -- means nothing. Of course, "access to care" is probably a physician buzz-phrase related to the shortcomings of "managed care" and even "Obamacare."

The very first sentence in PhRMA's press release emphasizes that "Nearly eight out of 10 physicians view pharmaceutical research companies and their sales representatives as useful sources of information on prescription medicines." What PhRMA does NOT say, however, is more telling. Take a look at this survey result:


What I notice is 38% of physicians find Web-based sources of medication information "very useful" versus 26% who find sales reps very useful for that information. Hmmm... either sales reps are not doing their job as well as the Web or maybe they are doing their jobs TOO well -- ie, providing company-sanctioned and biased information rather than information physicians think is useful. Or you could look it another way -- maybe docs are finding a lot more useful "off-label" information on the Web (and CME, which ranks #1?) -- information they technically cannot get from sales reps.

As with any survey, it is difficult to interpret the results of this survey, which allows for all sorts of spins. You can find the entire survey results attached to this Pharma Marketing Forums post.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Adverse Event Reporting -- Pharma Puts Profits Before Patients. A Missed Opportunity

By now you should have heard that the Supreme Court recently ruled that investors can sue pharmaceutical companies for failing to disclose reports of adverse events even if the evidence is not "statistically significant" (see "Supreme Court Allows Investors to Sue Pharmacos Over AE Reporting Lapses").

In a brief to the court, PhRMA (the US pharmaceutical trade association) said "A collection of adverse event reports that is not statistically significant does not permit a reasonable inference that a particular medicine actually caused the reported adverse event" (the brief is attached to the post cited above).

But what is "statistically significant?" According to PhRMA, "The statistical significance standard requires disclosure only once a correlation between an adverse event and the subject product can be reasonably inferred to be causal. It is only at that point that a manufacturer or regulatory body might react to adverse events, that a medicine’s sales would be threatened, and that a rational investor might consider this information in making investment decisions."

"Writing for the unanimous court," NPR reports, "Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that medical researchers and the FDA often reach initial conclusions based on evidence that is not statistically significant."

"The decision will make compliance with the securities laws more difficult" for corporations, said James Martin, who filed a brief in the case on behalf of lawyers who represent corporations.

The decision will also make it more difficult for pharma marketers to engage in the social media realm, where the adverse event boogey man has often been cited as an excuse for not engaging consumers about product issues.

When the adverse event reporting issue comes up during industry conferences such as this week's CBI's iPharmaConnect, there are always pharma people in the audience who wish their companies would embrace adverse event communication with consumers/patients as a way of supporting the users of their products. During my panel discussion -- "Utilization of Social Media -- How Far Is Too Far" -- one pharma employee in the audience had this to say:
"I think as an industry that we should really turn this [social media] adverse reporting [issue] on its head and look on it as an INCREDIBLE opportunity to really engage with the ultimate end user who is really the most important person [my emphasis, I think] and use it as an opportunity to find out WAY more than we ever do about how [our products] really affect their lives. ...I think this [pharma aversion to dealing head-on with AER in social media] is EXACTLY why people don't like the pharma industry -- because we're always doing things that are SO secret -- 'Oh, we can't talk about that.' -- it's ridiculous! We save people's lives and we should be ENCOURAGING [patients] to tell us what's going on and how these medicines are affecting their lives. I just think it's a missed opportunity."
Her statements were followed by immediate, spontaneous applause!

We have been told by our pharma marketing colleagues that the fear of lawsuits initiated by patients have prevented them from discussing adverse events in open forums. But it appears that the lawsuits pharma fears the most are NOT from disgruntled patients, but from disgruntled INVESTORS! That fear runs all the way up to the top of the organization; ie, the CEO, who is rewarded based upon stock price performance, not how well the company services patients.

Long gone are the days when a pharma CEO can truthfully say:

"We try to remember that medicine is for the patient. We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they will never fail to appear. The better we have remembered that, the larger they have been." -- George Merck - Founder of Merck & Co Inc.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Taro Pharmaceutical's "Bag O' Glass" Moment

I don't know who's "stupider" -- Taro Pharmaceutical, which published an OVIDE lotion branded comic book for kids without including warnings or the FDA, which sent the company a notice of violation letter because it did not include warnings such as "OVIDE Lotion is flammable?!"

Holy cow! Flammable?! Even with the warning, Taro should never promote this product in a  comic book aimed at kids!

It sort if reminds me of the Saturday Night Live "Bag O' Glass" skit featuring toy manufacturer Irwin Mainway, played byDan Aykroyd and Consumer Reporter played by Candice Bergen.

Consumer Reporter: So, you don't feel that this product is dangerous?

Irwin Mainway: No! Look, we put a label on every bag that says, "Kid! Be careful - broken glass!" I mean, we sell a lot of products in the "Bag O'" line.. like Bag O' Glass, Bag O' Nails, Bag O' Bugs, Bag O' Vipers, Bag O' Sulfuric Acid. They're decent toys, you know what I mean?

See the video of the skit on Hulu here.

Hat Tip to this Pharmalot story where you can read more about this.

Astellas Scientist Shows How to Light Ice on Fire!

This is Robert Kernstock, Principal Scientist at Astellas Pharma US. I was alerted to meet Robert and "learn why he LOVES science & who inspired him" by @AstellasUS, the company's Twitter account.

I immediately recognized Robert from a video he made that teaches kids how to light ice on fire. That video was the highlight of a conference I attended last year. That's Robert and his fiery ice on the left. I embedded the video below.

The Astellas YouTube channel (here) showcases several of its scientists as part of the company's Science WoRx (get it? ie, "Rx" for prescription) project, which is a local mentoring program and online resource network for science teachers.

I think this is an interesting program because it shows us some of the real people who work in the pharmaceutical industry and how they got there. Robert became interested in chemistry because his father was a chemist and worked for Dow Chemical and he admired his chemistry teacher in school.
[Personal aside: I recall that Dow Chemical produced deadly napalm and agent orange during the Vietnam War in the 60s and was responsible for the 1984 Bhopal (India) disaster, one of the world's worst industrial catastrophe due to a leak of methyl isocyanate. Obviously Dow Chemical also produces some great products that make life easier. In the balance of things, however, I'd much rather be like Robert and work for Astellas than like his father who worked at Dow. Robert says he had a "particular passion" which is "to help people. I wanted to cure diseases," said Robert (see his interview here).]
Astellas says "We encourage you to leave comments here. However, we will review all comments and will remove any that are inappropriate or offensive. Please understand that comments posted to this channel do not necessarily represent the opinions of Astellas Pharma US, Inc."

I guess Astellas has not received any comments or it finds all comments that were submitted -- I think I submitted one a while back -- inappropriate or offensive because I can't find any comments at all. That's a shame because it would be neat to have some kind of conversation with scientists like Robert or at least send them comments to say how much we enjoyed seeing ice on fire!

P.S. Astellas says "We understand that the future of innovation lies in our children and that a child’s interest in science is sparked in the classroom," says Astellas. "We also recognize that America’s science teachers are key in igniting this spark and that it’s their commitment that compels a child’s desire to pursue their interest further. In fact, many of our own employees attribute their passion for science to dedicated science educators like you."

It's too bad that state governments currently under Republican rule like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are drastically cutting funds to education and undermining the teachers that Astellas and other pharmaceutical companies depend upon to get future scientists on their payrolls. I think the drug industry needs to step forward FINANCIALLY to fill some of the void being created by draconian budget cuts. That's my opinion at least.



Whoah -- this ice is on fire! Learn how this "cool" reaction works with Science Pro Robert. Kids of all ages will get a kick out of this, but adult supervision is definitely required in this experiment! Please remember to wear all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Incorporate this flashy experiment into your next class by requesting a companion lesson plan from science.worx@us.astellas.com!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Utilization of Social Media - How Far Is Too Far?

You probably have gone too far with social media if your campaign has been lambasted here on Pharma Marketing Blog as in this case.

Maybe you've gone too far if you received a letter from the FDA as in this case.

Or maybe you haven't gone anywhere at all with social media!

But seriously, how far can pharma marketers go with social media?

That's a question I will ask panel members and the audience at next Monday morning's iPharmaConnect conference in Philadelphia (see agenda). Other questions/topics to be addressed include:
  • Can pharma marketers effectively use social media without crossing regulatory lines that have yet to be drawn in the sand?
  • What are regulatory affairs and legal people within pharma companies concerned about when their marketing people seek to do branded marketing via social media?
  • How can pharma marketers more effectively leverage digital tools to improve the connection with their audience?
Glenn Byrd, Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs at MedImmune, will be a member of that panel. Unfortunately, Cynthia North, Customer Marketing Director at Bayer Healthcare, also was scheduled to be on the panel, but she won't be able to make it due to a business conflict.

I agreed to help the conference organizers look for a replacement -- preferably someone working inside a pharmaceutical company on the commercial (ie, marketing) side. If you are interested, contact Dan Elliman, Program Manager, The Center for Business Intelligence, 339-298-2153, Or contact me.

Disclosure: My newsletter -- Pharma Marketing News -- is a Media Partner for this conference. I am not getting paid to moderate this panel, although I will stick around for the free lunch!

PhRMA Slaps Sleazy, Self-Serving Spin on GAO Drug Price Analysis

"We are pleased the GAO appropriately took into account the facts about how the biopharmaceutical marketplace works in its analysis of prescription medicine pricing trends," said PhRMA CEO John J. Castellani in his organization's Statement Regarding GAO Report. "The [GAO] report's key finding shows prices have been increasing at a rate of 2.6% [my emphasis] annually, which is lower than overall medical inflation," said Castellani.

Castellani focused exclusively on the GAO analysis of one "basket" (basket #4) of drugs that was "based on the active ingredient rather than drug name...in order to account for the growing national shift in consumer utilization from brand-name to generic versions of drugs." In other words, the basket included generic and brand name drugs. For example, “Zocor/10mg/oral/tablet” and “simvastatin/10mg/oral/tablet” would be considered the same drug for purposes of this fourth basket because they are the brand-name and generic versions of drugs with the same active ingredient, even though they have different names.

Of course, PhRMA does not represent the generic drug industry, so you can forgive Castellani for not mentioning the REAL "key findings" of the GAO report; ie, between Q12009 and Q12010, brand name drugs increased in price by 7.1% whereas generic drug prices decreased by 1.5% (see chart below, which also includes data from Barclays Capital):


Meanwhile, a Los Angeles Times story proclaims "U.S. drug prices outstrip other medical costs: GAO" and a Wall Street Journal's story is titled "Drug Prices Rise Despite Calls for Cuts" (find that story, which highlights the Barclays Capital analysis, along with the GAO report here).

One other problem with PhRMA's statement is this: The 2.6% price increase cited by Castellani is the AVERAGE increase in price between 2006 and 2010. That, indeed, is LESS than the 3.8 percent average annual increase in the consumer price index (CPI) for all medical goods and services -- which INCLUDES drugs -- during the same period. Looking only at 2009-2010 GAO data, however, the price increase was 4.3%. In comparison, the CPI for "Medical care services," which EXCLUDES drugs, rose 3.0% for the 12 months ending January, 2011, according to this Bureau of Labor Statistics press release.

Whether or not drug price increases are greater or lesser than general medical costs is a moot point. Why doesn't the industry share some of the pain many people are feeling during this harsh economy and DECREASE the price of its products as did the generic drug industry? Yeah, like that would happen!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

IMHO, One Major Pharma Company Should NOT Be On NAFE's List of 50 Top Companies for Women Executives

NAFE -- the National Association for Female Executives -- released it list of the top 50 for-profit companies that that are "paving the way in women's advancement." Women in these companies hold 23 percent of board seats (versus 16 percent at the Fortune 500) and represent 14 percent of CEOs (versus 2 percent).

Pharma companies in the list (find it here) include:
  • Abbott
  • AstraZeneca
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceutical USA
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Merck
  • Pfizer Inc
NOT included in the list are several of the other Top 20 pharma companies in terms of sales:
  • Novartis
  • Sanofi-Aventis
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Roche
  • Bayer
  • Novo Nordisk
Here's NAFE's methodology for choosing companies to be on the list:
In addition to assessing corporate programs and policies dedicated to advancing women, NAFE measured results, examining the number of women in each company overall, in senior management, and on its board of directors. They drew particular attention to the number of women with profit-and-loss responsibility. To be named to the NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women, companies with a minimum of two women on the board completed a comprehensive application that focused on the number of women in senior ranks (compared to men and to the company population), including questions about the programs and policies which support women's advancement.
It seems to be a numbers game for the most part. Not taken into account is whether or not women executives were made scape goats by their male superiors. If that had been part of NAFE's methodology, perhaps Johnson and Johnson would not have made the list this year.

Recall that Johnson and Johnson's male CEO forced a female executive to face a Congressional Committee rather than do it himself (see "J&J's Goggins Takes Bullet for CEO Weldon").

FDA Promises Still More Guidance! This Time It's Mobile. Janssen's Psoriasis iPhone App May Need It.

"The Food & Drug Administration is planning to release guidance for mobile medical applications in 2011, according to Center for Devices and Radiological Health director Dr. Jeffrey Shuren." That was reported in this story relaying comments made at a "town hall meeting" held March 10 in Irving, Texas.

I don't know nearly as much about Dr. Jeffrey Shuren as I do about Tom Abrams, his counterpart in FDA's DDMAC. But if he's making more promises that the FDA hasn't the ability to keep, then I urge that he resign along with Tom Abrams (see "Is It Time for Abrams to Leave?").

As you probably know, DDMAC first "promised" that it would issue social media guidance for pharmaceutical promotion by the end of 2010. When they missed that date, Abrams "promised" it would be done by the end of Q1 20011, which leaves only about 2 weeks for the FDA to fulfill that "promise."

Most observers, however, believe FDA will not deliver social media guidance before April Fool's Day 2011. Considering the looming budget cuts suggested by some anti-government bloat lawmakers, it could be a cold day in hell before FDA can spare the resources to get the job done as "promised."

Regarding mobile devices FDA has a much, much greater challenge in issuing guidance. The issue has to do with agency approval of Mobile medical applications as medical devices. So far, FDA has approved two mobile applications:
  1. MobiUS, a smartphone-based ultrasound imaging application for use in obstetric, gastrointestinal, cardiac andother clinical applications.
  2. Mobile MIM, a mobile diagnostic radiology application that facilitates viewing of medical images for diagnostic purposes via Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices.
FDA approval of these devices/applications hinged on image quality (see FDA Press Release). Of much greater concern, however, are applications that involve more complicated software. Whether or not the FDA would regulate mobile software has been an issue for nearly two years.

Is the FDA technologically competent enough to evaluate mobile App software? It's a valid question considering that many people have doubted that FDA was competent enough to understand social media and issue guidance in that realm. Software, which operates behind the scenes, is even more of a challenge.

Faulty software can make medical devices dangerous. Think of "HAL" in charge of millions of pacemakers. That sort of thing.

There is a relation between mobile medical Apps and pharmaceutical marketing. Many pharmaceutical marketers are developing mobile Apps. The latest one I've come across is Janssen's "Psoriasis" app for the iPhone and iPad (see it here on iTunes).


The physician version -- which any non-physician can easily access -- includes a "PASI calculator." PASI stands for "Psoriasis Area and Severity Index," which is a tool for the measurement of severity of psoriasis. According to the wikipedia entry, the following formula is used to calculate PASI:


I won't get into the details here, but I wonder if this is the equation used in the software that calculates PASI in Janssen's Psoriasis App? Does the software implement the equation correctly? Has it been tested and certified as correct? By whom?

Jannsen does include this statement in its disclaimer: "The information provided on this App is not a substitute for professional medical care." This is par for the course when dealing with consumers who may be using the PASI calculator without medical supervision.

But I can't find any information about the clinical validity of the PASI calculator, which is an issue I've often blogged about (see, for example, "Pharma Symptom Quiz Goes to the Dogs!" and links therein).

This is just a simple example of a medical App that depends on the accuracy of its software to function properly. If marketers design the Apps and hire outside tech agencies to develop the Apps, then there is the possibility that the software can be "gamed" to provide desired results (eg, higher PASI score) much like the software of Vegas slot machines are "gamed" to favor the house.

Is the Janssen Psoriasis App a medical device that needs to be approved by the FDA? I think that's a valid question to ask since the App encourages physicians to use it: "This interactive PASI calculator enables you to generate a PASI score for your patients."

P.S. Janssen says that the Psoriasis iPhone App is "Intended for a European audience." But it -- like ALL iPhone Apps -- is available on iTunes, which is a US retail Web site. Does that trump "intention" and does intention matter as far as the FDA is concerned?

P.S. See "Checking Under the Hood of Pharma Mobile Apps" for an update.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Astrazeneca's Twitter Survey: Will They Share Some Results?

@astrazeneca is currently asking its Twitter followers (of which it has over 5,000) to fill out an online survey hosted on SurveyMonkey. AZ tweeted this a few minutes ago: "Last chance 2 complete our Twitter survey, closing fri...we’d like your ideas: http://ow.ly/4bzf0" In case the survey is closed by the time you read this, you can find a PDF version I created for archival purposes here: http://bit.ly/AZTsurvey

I also use SurveyMonkey to survey my Twitter followers and have received over 1,600 responses to date. You can take my survey (here) and/or see the de-identified results (here).

What is AZ interested in learning from its followers? There's the standard demographic-type questions, including "How would you best describe yourself?" The choices listed tell us something about who AZ expects should or could be following them:
  • Media/journalist
  • Academic/researcher
  • Pharmaceutical employee
  • AZ employee
  • Healthcare provider
  • Government agency/regulator
  • Communications specialist/agency
  • NGO/civil society employee
  • AZ business partner
  • Patient/patient advocate
  • Service provider/consultant
  • AZ shareholder
It's interesting that AZ allows respondents to check off all that apply. Obviously, practically everyone should click "Patient/patient advocate" -- we are all patients at one time or another. AZ should have clarified that and put "Patient advocate" as a separate category considering how interested this group of people are in forging relationships with the pharmaceutical industry (see "Social Media's OK Corral: Docs vs. Patients" and "Some Social Media Patient Opinion Leaders Want to be Paid Pharma Professionals" and "PHARMA Co Patient Opinion Leader Programs").

AZ wants to know if @astrazenca (ie, its Twitter account) is the "main source of information about AZ." I'd like to know the answer to THAT question! (I hope AZ shares some results of the survey; I DM'd AZ this inquiry: "I responded to your Twitter Follower survey. Will you share some of the results?").

AZ asks followers what they want to see more/less of from @astrazenca, including (my responses are in parentheses):
  • News from AZ (RIGHT AMOUNT)
  • Views/opinion from AZ leaders (MORE)
  • Coverage of AZ in the media (LESS)
  • Retweets of things we find interesting (MORE)
  • Financial information from AZ (LESS)
  • Twitter events such as interviews and debates (MORE)
The last question in the survey asks "How could we make better use of social media to meet your needs?" to which I responded: "More Twitter chats! Invite guest moderators such as key opinion leaders, patient advocates, etc."

I haven't yet heard back from AZ whether or not they will reveal some results of their survey. If and when I do, I will let you know what they say (SEE BELOW).

P.S. Note to Astrazeneca. I love the simplicity of your online survey; single white page, small unassuming logo at the top, etc. For future reference: When users finish taking the survey, you should direct them to perhaps the AZ corporate website. Right now, they are brought to the SurveyMonkey sign-up page. Why give SurveyMonkey free promotion? I assume you are paying SurveyMonkey a few hundred dollars per year to use their surveying software, in which case they allow you to redirect to whatever URL you wish. Just a thought.

P.P.S. Just got this from @astrazeneca: "thanks for the feedback - yes we'll share some of the survey results via this feed"

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

"On Course with Phil" Lacks Social Media Pizzazz!

This is NOT an attack on Phil Mickelson! I've already done that, been there (see Phil Mickelson "Opens Up" to Arthritis Today Magazine and Is Phil Mickelson Shilling for Enbrel?). So, relax and proceed to the back nine! This is about the "non-branded" disease awareness campaign just announced by Pfizer & Amgen, the companies that bring you ENBREL.

The centerpiece of the campaign is the "On Course with Phil" website, which is pretty lame by today's social media standards. Before I get to that, let me show you the homepage screen that I just captured:


In case you missed it, I circled the "money shot," which is not Phil hitting the ball in the hole, but the prominent link to a "treatment option." The link, of course, leads directly to the branded ENBREL website. Surely, this biologic compound that has a LONG list of things you need to tell your doctor about before taking (eg, "if you live or have lived in ...the Southwest") is NOT the first treatment option one should consider!

Amgen and Pfizer have teamed up (ie, given money to) the Arthritis Foundation and the National Psoriasis Foundation -- patient groups -- to form the "Joint Smart Coalition," which is responsible for the "On Course with Phil" campaign.

On the "On Course with Phil" website, Phil says that he first experienced pain right after the 2010 U.S. Open, which was held in Pebble Beach, California -- the same "Southwest" that the ENBREL package insert says you should tell your doctor about if you ever lived there.

Anyhoo, the website is pretty primitive. I was hoping to see at least a video clip of Phil shooting some balls or maybe even telling us personally about his experience. Instead, you have to click "1", "2", etc. to read what he has to say. Very BORING!

And that "SHARE" button in the upper right corner -- it's not what you think. All it is is a form whereby you can send an email to one other person. Where's the social media share button that allows you to share this site on Twitter, Facebook, etc? I can get code for that and not even pay a dime for it! Like this one:



Pfizer is often touted to be a leader in social media. But if Pfizer built this site, then it's not worthy of wearing that mantle. I think, however, the real reason this site is basic Web 1.0 is that AMGEN and PFIZER spent all their money on signing up Mickelson and they have none left over to do anything fancy like video or social media integration (see Amgen Blows Its Marketing Budget on Phil Mickelson Campaign).

I've often said that celebrities and social media is a "match made in heaven" for product promotion and that the drug industry is likely to use this combination more often (see "Use of Celebrities for PR and DTC Advertising"; use discount code: 71-01PMYFREE). So, it's a surprise to me that Pfizer and Amgen have not (yet) taken advantage of the synergies between celebrities and social media as other drug companies have done (see, for example, Danica Patrick: NASCAR Driver, Super Model, Superbowl Lingerie Ad Model, & COPD Spokesperson All Rolled Into one!). But, hey, it could still happen!