Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year's Resolutions for Pharma Marketers

My #1 New Year's Resolution is to stop telling pharmaceutical marketers what to do all the time.

Now, here's my list of resolutions for pharma marketers:

1. Don't Start a Blog and Then Neglect to Update It! At least two drug company blogs launched in 2007 and 2008 have gone silent: GSK's alliConnect Blog (no new posts since September 3, 2008) and Centocor's CNTO411 (no new posts since October 8, 2008). Dudes! That's like disrespectful to your customers!

2. Develop Pharma eMarketing Guidelines Already! In 2008, PhRMA came out with new versions of its guidelines for interacting with healthcare professionals and direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising. But where the hell are the guidelines for using the Internet? Approximately half of my criticisms of the industry involve shady Internet marketing practices. Now is a good time to develop eMarketing guidelines because everyone is predicting that while there will be cutbacks in personal marketing to physicians and broadcast DTC advertising to consumers, more money will be spent online in 2009. Also, the new FDA Commissioner may be more Internet-savvy and re-awaken the agency's interest in the Internet as a unique marketing platform. Note that we've already seen the first Internet-specific "warning letter" from the FDA: see "Death of the One-Click 'Rule' or 'Received Precedent' or Whatever!"

3. Put Serious Limits on Broadcast DTC. Why continue to spend 60-70% of your marketing budget on TV if you really have no new products and nothing new to say? Cut that budget in half and spend half of what you save on more effective channels, such as the Internet! Or use the money to better understand why most patients stop taking your products after one refill! See "Rethinking the Value of DTC Advertising," "Is DTC Bankrupting Pharma?," and "An Experiment: Ban All DTC Broadcast Advertising for One Year."

4. Develop Some Drugs that Men Want! Allergan got FDA approval to market Lumigan for enhancing eyelashes, something only a woman would want to do ("Allergan's Secret Plan to Thwart Homeland Security and the FDA Approval Process"); Pfizer's Lyrica was approved for fibromyalgia, which seems to affect primarily women ("Women Need More Love, Less Drugs"); and GSK's Paxil may be well on the way to approval for Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder or PGAD, which also mostly affects women (see "PGAD. EGAD! Another Syndrome/Disorder, Whatever!"). If I believe the comments I have received, many women actually suffer from PGAD. OK, fine. But what about us guys? We haven't had a drug marketed specifically for us since Viagra and Cialis were launched way back in the day. Not that we need these drugs -- we just want 'em. (BTW, I suspect many men also have PGAD, but DON'T want a pill for IT.) Personally, I think men need drugs that would help them think with their HEADS rather than with their PENISES! Guys, keep in mind that many women are attracted to smart guys because intelligence is a genetic trait that they value and want for their children. It's so much easier to fake intelligence than genital endowment. So, I'm all for developing new drugs or repurposing old ones for enhancing my intelligence (see "Brain Drugs: This is Your Brain on Adderall") -- IF I WERE IN THE MARKET, WHICH I AM NOT! I'm already happily married, very happily married! But I would still like a bigger, more powerful brain, if you know what I mean!

That's it. Just a few really simple New Year's Resolutions to get you started on your way to a great 2009!


  1. John, Happy New Year, and stay cranky. I will stand by your side and stump for resolutions 1 and 2. The "Men Need Drugs Too" note is a hoot.

    Jack Barrette

  2. Jack,

    Thanks for your comment. I was toying with the idea of being less cranky in 2009, but since you seem to like it, I will abandon that resolution.

  3. Hi Jack,
    It seems that Merck is on its way...
    And Happy New Year

    Miguel A. Tovar

  4. Miguel,

    Ah yes, but I was thinking more of life-style drugs.

    Obviously, the main benefit of Gardasil use in boys is to prevent some forms of cervical cancer in women.

    It may be a stretch to get parents to innoculate their sons when they can simply educate them in the use of condoms, which would prevent the STD problem -- and others -- in the first place.

  5. Anonymous9:58 AM

    this is a great post. probably lots of companies get into blogging because of the hype but don't really buy into it internally.

  6. I think it's more of a personnel problem...blogs are personal and when the person leaves, the blog is dead in the water!


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