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PhRMA: 2017 State of the Industry


At biopharmaceutical companies across America, we stand for hope, treatments and cures that make a difference in the lives of millions of patients.
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Tumblr Not High on Pharma's Most Popular Social Media Platforms List for 2017 & 2018


A new study of pharmaceutical marketing teams found that the most popular social media forum groups plan to use in the next one to two years is Facebook (73%), according to data published by business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information.

Data found in the study, Pharmaceutical Marketing: Reevaluate Digital Trends and Metrics for Social Media and Mobile Success, which was published less than a month ago, revealed that YouTube (64%) and LinkedIn (55%) are also common for surveyed life science marketing teams, with Twitter (45%) at a more distant fourth.

Not as popular, but still commonly used social networking sites include Instagram and Tumblr, with 18% and 9% of pharmaceutical marketing teams utilizing them, respectively. Additional data from the study show that no surveyed pharmaceutical and medical device companies report using Pinterest, Vine, Flickr and Reddit.

"New technology offers many opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry," said Natalie DeMasi, research team leader at Cutting Edge Information. "As a result, social media and mobile platforms are becoming more and more a part of teams' digital strategies."


But some consultants say Tumblr deserves more respect from pharma. Read “Pharma Tumbles for Tumblr. ‘It's Not Your Grandfather's Social Media!’"

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The rise of digital marketing: pharma and social media. earthware's thoughts, opinions and geeky tech blog


Most pharma companies use social media channels to broadcast content rather than converse with their audience. Typically, this follows two themes; broadcasting corporate news including regulatory approvals, appointments and disease awareness, and releasing other notable items, such as the latest data from congresses or stats on epidemiology.

Unlike many other industries, there is little attempt to use social media as a platform for conversation. This is primarily a result of the regulatory challenges faced by the industry.

There is still little in the way of true innovation in digital marketing across pharma. For most companies, having an e-detail, brand website and corporate twitter account ticks the digital boxes. Digital remains an afterthought of the marketing plan after the exhibition stands, symposia and patient leaflets have been ordered.

Fear of the known

The risk of not adhering to industry codes of practice means there is an inherent fear of digital channels and, in particular, social media. With most companies requiring approval of all external communications it is very difficult for pharma to converse over social media and certainly not with the immediacy that users demand.

Trust issues

There are a couple of key issues that reduce the impact pharma can have over digital channels. Firstly, social media users are used to engaging in conversation and debate. Pharma’s inability to engage in this way means their social media presence is far less engaging for patients and doctors than other content providers.

Secondly, there remains a distrust of industry. Deloittes’s report on pharma's adoption of social media* highlights the challenge, with 75% of doctors surveyed indicating a lack of trust in pharma.

Pharma companies should consider partnering with third parties who are trusted by their target audience. Partnering with professional bodies or third party networks offers great opportunities for industry to provide access to clinical data and insights which their partners are not able to deliver on their own.

HCP engagement

The rise in popularity of platforms such as, Medscape, Epocrates and Sermo indicate that like any consumer, HCPs are using digital platforms to engage with the content they want. In addition, HCPs are increasingly using digital platforms as a way of receiving medical education, whether via webinars, or new platforms like twitter’s Periscope. Tools like Skype are also being used increasingly by HCPs in their day-to-day working, including conducting MDT meetings with remote colleagues or even patient consultations.

As the traditional access to HCPs continues to increase in difficulty, perhaps a mix of online and face-to-face conversations will enable pharma reps to be more efficient.

Where the journey begins

Listening is key to developing digital solutions that meet the needs of HCPs and patients. Social listening, for example, by searching the web to see what’s being said about your company or products is a great way to gather insight and there are many free tools out there to get you started, such as Google Alerts.

Speaking to HCPs and patients and asking them to describe the patient journey and mapping out the challenges and gains at each point helps identify where solutions are needed. Co-create solutions with HCPs and patients rather than stopping at co-design. Co-creation means involvement at each step of the process as you design, prototype, test and refine solutions. Start small, get something out there and learn as you go.

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50% of Fast-Track Approved Drugs – Mostly Cancer Drugs – Have Not Been Proved Effective After 3 Years on the Market!


The FDA, in an effort to bring promising new therapies to patients as quickly as possible, has introduced a spate of shortcuts to speed up the approval process. Those programs are working as intended, new research finds, but drug companies are often loath to fulfill their obligations.

The big idea behind the FDA’s accelerated drug approval program is that regulators will OK a promising drug based on clues that it will improve patient lives, so long as pharma companies later carry out larger trials to confirm those hints of efficacy. But looking at four years of data, a team of researchers found that only 50 percent of those trials actually took place within three years of approval.

Furthermore, 44 percent of such trials were not the placebo-controlled variety considered to be the gold standard but rather relied on the same surrogate measures used to win a quick approval, leaving each drug’s true value unclear. This was particularly striking for cancer drugs, accounting for 80 percent of studied approvals, which were cleared based on how well they shrank tumors, not how long they kept patients alive.


Further Reading:

  • “GAO Report: FDA Expedites Drug Approvals, But Its Postapproval Oversight Stinks!”;
  • "FDA is Lax in Enforcing Law Regarding Prescription Drug Postmarketing Studies";
Pharma Guy's curator insight, August 16, 7:13 AM

According a Research Letter published in the July 10, 2013, issue of JAMA. The authors of the study found that NONE (zero) of the 865 studies under FDAAA jurisdiction from 2008 through 2011 have been completed. Of the 387 studies mandated in 2011, 271 (70%) have not even begun.

The 'Hear' and Now for Pharma and Social Media


Good news—the pharmaceutical industry is finally catching on to the social side of social media. Just a decade or so after Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter gave everyone the opportunity to share their own stories, pharma businesses are actually starting to listen.

Of course, there is still a broad spectrum of social media capabilities within the industry, from companies that are all in on the social scene to those who still haven’t managed to set up a basic account. Even within businesses, skills and usage can vary greatly between countries, therapeutic areas, or corporate functions such as HR and commercial.

The vast majority of pharma companies also still use social media as just another broadcast channel—a cheap alternative to direct mail. But the green shoots of sociability are starting to show through.

Less is more

One recent shining example is AstraZeneca’s Twitter strategy at June’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2017 meeting in Chicago. Ahead of the meeting, the company released a statement saying that it would be tweeting less and engaging more with retweets and comments.

The business was reacting to concerns expressed at 2016’s ASCO meeting, when some attendees worried that vital social media conversations around the event were getting lost among louder industry voices. The worry was that paid promotions were threatening to crowd out valuable scientific conversations.

AstraZeneca’s response was to publish a set of commitments to be "Being a Better Social Media Citizen." In a five-point pledge (see slide below), the company promised to preserve the social media space around the conference and allow the oncology community to “learn, discuss, and share the science that excites them at ASCO 2017.”

Click to enlargeKey to this was “talking less and listening more,” meaning a significant reduction in tweets sent. The flip side of that was “elevating important voices,” sharing tweets sent by researchers, patient organizations, doctors, and patients.

AstraZeneca also drew back from frivolous content like quizzes or fun facts to “be sensitive” and acknowledge that oncology is a serious business. And the  drugmaker stopped paid promotion of tweets for the duration of the meeting to “respect the organic conversation” taking place on Twitter among ASCO attendees and the broader medical community.

Finally, the company’s social media team committed to focus on explaining its own science in formats that were easy to digest and understand and “make complex science accessible.”

Contributing to the conversation

AstraZeneca’s “less is more” strategy appears to have contributed to a better online experience at ASCO 2017.

More than half of the 200-plus respondents to a Twitter poll by ASCO member Dr. Mike Thompson, with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, thought the 2017 meeting had a better “signal-to-noise ratio” than the previous year’s meeting.

Dr. Paul Tunnah, CEO of healthcare engagement agency Pharmaphorum Connect, was encouraged that AstraZeneca had carried through on its promises. “This is a good example of progressive social media,” he says. “They received positive feedback from the medical audience and stood out as being engaging rather than broadcasting.”

Annie Sullivan, director of corporate social media, AstraZeneca, says that while it approaches every congress or campaign with a fresh lens, being a “good citizen” is now central to the company’s social media strategy.

She explains that the business wants to deliver content that has a value through its social media channels, making its science accessible, highlighting important professional voices and sharing patient perspectives. “We are focused on remaining relevant to the ever-changing social media landscape,” says Sullivan. 


Crafting campaigns

The issue of relevancy features in Tunnah’s 2017 formula for the ideal social media campaign: “Integrated, relevant, and long-term.”

Being relevant, according to Tunnah, means that campaigns need to provide information that is useful to the target audience.  He says corporate objectives and messaging can be encapsulated in valuable information, but that marketers must avoid “corporate-speak.”


Being integrated requires social media linking to other digital and non-digital content that takes the customer on a clear journey to learn more about the company or a specific therapeutic franchise. And to be long-term, Tunnah says that pharma needs to be ever-present on social media, not just when it wants something.

Long-term commitment and social media marketing don’t always sit well together. Corporate concerns over ROI that is not always easy to prove and the frequent pivots of the social platforms conspire to shorten campaign time frames. But Tunnah advises the long view.

“Short-term campaigns will not deliver results without significant paid promotion, which may not deliver relevant audience,” he explains. “Trust takes time and the authenticity that being there more persistently provides is very powerful in building better customer relationships.”

Making connections

According to Jordan Deatherage, senior director, social media, at Intouch Solutions, the ideal social media campaign also needs to make a connection, regardless of the platforms or the technology being used.

She advocates a consistent and connected customer experience, not a mismatch of information or user experience. “Each messaging point of contact should be intentional and function in an expected way,” says Deatherage.

She believes it is possible for companies to be social without building a branded presence on specific platforms, so long as they understand that social media is an important part of people’s day-to-day Sidebar: Reaching Across Disease Areas (click to enlarge)communication.

“Information on the Internet is social if it’s shareable,” says Deatherage. “By providing valuable content and enabling visitors to cleanly share it, companies can implement a compliant, inherently social experience.”

In this way, companies can take on social media without setting up an owned brand presence like a Facebook page. But that doesn’t mean there is no value in developing an owned social presence.

Deatherage points to the work Intouch has done with Teva to develop its Lift MS Facebook page and blog. The award-winning Facebook page has almost 320,000 followers and hosts patient resources, discussions, and supporting videos and photos. “The Lift MS Facebook page and blog have contributed in a relevant way to this community in a very crowded category,” says Deatherage.

Teva previously had success with the “You Don’t Know Jack About MS” YouTube channel fronted by multiple sclerosis sufferer Jack Osborne. The channel gained 11,000 subscribers and the most popular of the 16 episodes clocked up almost half-a-million views.

“The two campaigns aren’t linked, but they are both a testament to a client that understands the impact of social media, especially in a very crowded disease state,” says Deatherage.

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25 Pharma Marketing Influencers to Follow on Social Media


Follow these 25 pharma marketing influencers for best practices to learn about leading pharma marketing strategies and trends.
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Pharma's giants, new and old, tell more tales than their numbers show | FiercePharma


It takes some mighty big forces to shift the enormous drugmakers that, like boulders in a stream, help define the course of the pharma industry. But shift they did over the last decade, and there's a story behind every changing revenue tally for Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, Bristol-Myers and their peers.
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Patients Love Social Media. But Will They See Your Clinical Trial?


Americans check social media 17 times a day -- that's nearly once every hour. They check their messages on Facebook, read news on Twitter, share photos on Instagram. Social networks let you advertise your medical research opportunities to a potential audience of millions. Here's how to promote clinical trials on social media in a compliant and effective way.

Why Is Social Media Marketing So Important?

Patients are on social media every day, multiple times per day. Sometimes patients come to social media sites like Facebook to seek community and support for their disease in one of the thousands of Facebook pages and groups dedicated to this effort. And sometimes patients are checking up on family and friends. Regardless, we can use the power of social media advertising to present them with information about your clinical study.

 Recruitment for clinical trials via social media is already on the rise. In one study, nine out 14 medical research companies planned to use social media to boost patient enrollment. Among organizations that already used social media for recruitment, Facebook was the most popular platform, followed by online patient communities, YouTube and Twitter.

The demographic is social media networks like Facebook is usually in the sweetspot of what researchers are looking for in trial participants. While you might think that social media skews to a young audience, 84 percent of people who check Facebook are aged between 30 and 49, and 72 percent are between 50 and 64. For a clinical trial for breast cancer, we found the highest degree of engagement on Facebook in women aged 50 and higher.

How to Use Social Media for Clinical Trials

Like any worthwhile effort, an effective campaign requires a solid strategy and great execution. Message and creative development are important as is having multiple options to test for optimization of the campaign.

It's important to stay compliant when promoting clinical trials. Facebook, for example, stipulates that all marketing must clearly represent the company and service being advertised. Twitter has a similar policy. In addition, all content shown to a potential subject must first be approved by IRB. Companies like Seeker Health offer customized compliance tools to suppress the comments on Facebook ads, which has become the gold-standard practice for clinical trials.

Accelerate Your Clinical Trial Enrollment Today

Research suggests that 80 percent of clinical trials in the United States are delayed by at least one month because of low enrollment. Social media marketing solves this problem by letting you advertise medical research opportunities to a huge audience.

If you want to accelerate patient recruitment through social media, we can help. Click here to contact us. 

Sandra Shpilberg is Founder and CEO of Seeker Health, a digital health company innovating the way that patients learn about and enroll in clinical trials. More information at

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PinUp: Fake Advertising - Is It a Thing Now for Big Pharma Marketers?


I'm always on the lookout for misleading drug ads. Recently, however, I've become aware of "fake advertising" by pharma marketers. We've all seen fake ads in weight loss commercials that use retouched photos to gain competitive advantage. But mainstream "Big Pharma" companies also engage in fake advertising as well! Very sad.


Articles in this issue:


Further Reading:



About Pharma Industry News Update

The Pharma Industry News Update (aka PinUp) is published every Tuesday and Friday as part of the Pharma Marketing News subscription service. It features curated pharma industry news and views of topical interest from a variety of sources. If you'd like to receive this newsletter, subscribe here.

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GSK hands new chief digital officer a transformative remit


GlaxoSmithKline has created a new chief digital and technology officer role as it seeks to transform how new technologies are used to improve the entire group’s performance.

The role will be filed by Karenann Terrell, who will join the pharma firm on 4 September and take up a seat on its Corporate Executive Team.

Emma Walmsley, GSK’s chief executive officer, said: “The impact of technology on the healthcare industry is accelerating and requires us to rethink our approach.

“As a member of the Executive Team, Karenann will have the scope to think radically about how we can exploit the latest opportunities and ultimately improve our business performance.”

GSK has consistently been active in the digital space, most recently looking to apply artificial intelligence to drug discover, targeting COPD adherence with sensor technology and rolling out its first medical device mobile app. However, new CEO Walmsley clearly wants more to be done when it comes to the bigger picture of applying digital technologies.
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AstraZeneca - #chatbot and applications in pharmaceuticals #hcsmeufr


Hari works as an Solution Architect in the UK Tech Incubation Lab. He loves to bring new emerging technologies into the hands of users
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7 Trends On How Big Pharma Uses Social Media


Although their communications are highly regulated, pharmaceutical firms are steadily adopting social media to reach and interact with consumers, potential new hires, and health care professionals. But how exactly are firms navigating these waters compliantly? To find out, I spoke with Lakshaman (Lux) Narayan, CEO and a co-founder of Unmetric, Inc. and a TED Talk speaker. Unmetric is a branded content analytics company that recently released a report that outlined social media trends for big pharma.

Joanna Belbey: Tell us a bit about the methodology behind your recent report, "The 7 Social Media Trends in the Pharmaceutical Industry”.

Lux Narayan:  We used data that we already had from our platform that monitors over 100,000 brands across 13 different verticals, pharma being one of them. People sliced and analyzed the data, and looked at it from different perspectives to analyze the industry. Pharma is particularly interesting because of all the regulations and compliance that surround it. It's interesting to see what pharma brands do, given the amount of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance to which they adhere.


Belbey: Due to restrictions from the FDA, your report showed how pharmaceutical firms split their social presence into four independent silos. Can you tell us more about that?

Narayan: Social media is a constrained medium for pharma due to the regulatory environment . Firms are a little hamstrung on what they can and cannot say about their products. We looked at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram to see how firms are using social media. We saw that there are four major silos of effort that allow firms to use social media and still comply with regulatory requirements. To start, the firms we evaluated have a Corporate Social Profile which may include an overview and history of the company and a bit about the people working there. Another popular area is Careers in Pharma, which was not surprising, considering that many of these companies have tens of thousands of employees and need the best talent. We also saw many pharmaceutical firms set up separate Over the Counter (OTC) Branded pages to discuss their specific products there. Many also create Community Pages where they talk about diseases, rather than the product or drug itself, trying to become a place for people to gather who are concerned about one of these conditions.

Belbey: In other words, pharma makes a concerted effort not to discuss specific drugs to avoid scrutiny and regulatory requirements of the FDA. What other trends did your analysis reveal?


Narayan: Overall, we found that there were several trends in how pharmaceutical firms use social media. First of all, firms have been publishing less social media content. There could be various reasons for that. Companies may have already spent too much on content and not necessarily reaching as wide an audience as before. Brands could also be reallocating money from content creation to content promotion and giving a longer shelf life to content. Or perhaps the content did not show up on public walls (“dark posts”), which is what platforms like ours monitor. We also learned that brands are careful what they publish as organic reach is not as great as it was. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised to see some brands using Facebook Live and videos, which you don't expect to see as much for a more regulated industry like pharma. However, the nature of video (requiring more production costs, effort, and time) could explain the reduction in the amount of content that's coming out now as opposed to a year ago.

Belbey: In addition to the 1) decrease in content and the 2) rise on video, your report also showed that 3) Facebook engagement in on the rise, 4) more content is being promoted on Facebook, 5) OTC Brand Profiles are declining, 6) companies reply to fewer tweets than ever, and 7) firms were active across social networks, with firms preferring Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. What’s next?

Narayan:   Brands need to adapt, evolve and use data to understand what's working  and what's not. Since we’re seeing good engagement for video, they probably will continue to double down on that. Social media presence is a large dataset. With the right sort of analysis, such as artificial intelligence, more brands will learn to harness the signals that social throws up and use it to separate the needles from the haystack. It’s going to help them build better data points to design the kind of content will be more engaging. The trend of figuring out what can drive engagement and putting more effort behind it, which might be a single video that might give you more engagement than multiple posts that you put out, will continue.

Belbey: As firms have more ability to do the analytics, do you think the content is going to become more tailored and more effective?

Narayan: Absolutely. There are so many signals that they can harness and help drive narrative flow in terms of what content will engage better with an audience. That sophistication is becoming higher in pharma companies. You're going to see them use these analytics to create better and more responsive content and campaigns in the future.

Contributor’s notes: Here is the actual guidance from the FDA pertaining to advertising and social media for your convenience:

Medical Product Communications That Are Consistent With the FDA-Required Labeling — Questions and Answers (Draft Jan 2017)

Drug and Device Manufacturer Communications With Payors, Formulary Committees, and Similar Entities – Questions and Answers (Draft 2017)

FDA Draft Guidance for Industry Internet/Social Media Platforms with Character Space Limitations – Presenting Risk and Benefit Information for Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices (June 2014)

FDA Draft Guidance for Internet/Social Media Platforms: Correcting Independent Third-Party Misinformation About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices (June 2014)

Fulfilling Regulatory Requirements for Postmarking Submissions of Interactive Promotional Media for Prescription Human and Animal Drugs and Biologics (Draft Jan 2014)

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5 Ways The Healthcare Industry Could Use Big Data—and Why It’s Not


Bridging the gap between technology and business
Florian Morandeau's curator insight, August 7, 4:17 PM

Here are just 5 of the many ways healthcare could use big data.

A patient first approach to pharma content


Multichannel marketing with pharma content is a powerful way for pharma to find, inform and retain new patients and HCPs.
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Novartis and Bayer among backers for European big data project


A European project to advance big data-driven cardiovascular research has launched with EU and pharma backing.

Novartis, Bayer, Servier and Vifor Pharma are among those participating in BigData@Heart, a five-year, €19m project supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

Its overarching aim is to improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden on society of atrial fibrillation (AF), heart failure (HF) and acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

To do this the IMI consortium will develop a data-driven translational research platform to deliver clinically relevant disease phenotypes, scalable insights from real-world evidence, best-practices in drug development and personalised medicines through advanced analytics.
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Pharma and the connected patient : How digital technology is enabling patient centricity


With over 260,000 health apps worldwide and 70% of patient groups using at least one app to manage their condition, it’s clear that a digital ecosystem has developed within healthcare. New research released by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions explores how digital technology can help pharma embrace patient centricity to remain relevant, profitable, and to deliver better health outcomes.

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Former Walmart CIO Named Chief Digital And Technology Officer Of GlaxoSmithKline


Former Walmart CIO Karenann Terrell has joined GlaxoSmithKline as the Chief Digital and Technology Officer, a new role for the company. She will start on September 4.
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» Sanofi renforce sa collaboration avec Evidation pour identifier des « biomarqueurs numériques » 


Sanofi va renforcer sa collaboration avec l’américain Evidation Health, spécialisé dans la mesure des comportements de santé. Au cours des trois prochaines années, les deux entreprises vont exploiter conjointement la plateforme Real Life d’Evidation pour identifier des « biomarqueurs numériques » issus des données générées par les patients grâce aux objets connectés portables et mobiles et développer des solutions innovantes pour améliorer les résultats thérapeutiques.
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Retrouvez les chiffres cles du #médicament en France #Juin2017 #ladatareference #hcsmeufr #pharma

Retrouvez les chiffres cles du #médicament en France #Juin2017 #ladatareference #hcsmeufr #pharma

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Stakeholder Engagement in Pharma


Biocon stakeholder engagement
rosywills's comment, August 4, 3:43 AM
Microbiology Testing/Clinical Microbiology Market is projected to reach USD 5.77 Billion by 2021
Download PDF brochure @

Pharma rep visits? They're redundant, doctors say in new survey | FiercePharma


Tell physicians something they don’t know. That’s one of the key messages that came from the ePharma Physicians annual study, in which doctors claimed 51% of the time, sales reps are showing them redundant information during visits.
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Sanofi renforce le suivi numérique des patients


Le groupe Sanofi a annoncé mardi un renforcement de sa collaboration avec la start-up américaine Evidation Health, spécialisée dans l'exploitation et l'analyse de données de patients en vie réelle, dans le but d'améliorer l'observance et l'efficacité des traitements.

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Pharma and the connected patient - results of a survey by PatientView//Deloitte UK Centre for Health solutions


PatientView's curator insight, August 6, 3:25 PM

biotech companies and pharma were trusted the least, with values of 27 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively

Boost Patient Enrollment by Being Present Online


Clinical research sites are constantly struggling with one of the most important aspects of a study – enrollment of patients. Meeting the target number of part…
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2016 in review: FDA approvals of new molecular entities - ScienceDirect


Publication date: Available online 4 July 2017
Source:Drug Discovery Today
Author(s): Rebekah H. Griesenauer, Michael S. Kinch
An overview of drugs approved by FDA in 2016 reveals dramatic disruptions in long-term trends. The number of new molecular entities (NMEs) dropped, reflecting the lowest rate of small-molecule approvals observed in almost five decades. In addition, the pace of industry consolidation slowed substantially. The impact of mergers and acquisitions decreased the total number of organizations with past approval experience and continued research and development (R&D) activities to 102, divided evenly between more established pharmaceutical and newer biotechnology companies. Despite these substantial differences, the industry continued to pursue regulatory incentives, as evidenced by a continued increase in the fraction of NMEs approved using an orphan or priority designation, and almost all oncology drugs approved in 2016 utilized these mechanisms.
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