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Samsung, the pharma company: biopharm investments; first biosimilars in 2016

Samsung, the pharma company: biopharm investments; first biosimilars in 2016 | Pharma_News |

South Korea’s biggest company is investing at least $2 billion in biopharmaceuticals, including the growing segment of biosimilars, which are cheaper versions of brand-name biotechnology drugs that have lost patent protection.


Samsung, with $327 billion annual revenue, aims to become a major force in biotechnology, an industry expected to generate sales of more than $220 billion in five years. With the electronics market reaching saturation, billionaire chairman Lee Kun Hee has been investing in new areas that might shore up growth for the family-controlled company.


Samsung plans to sell its first biosimilar version of Amgen Inc. (AMGN)’s arthritis therapy Enbrel in 2016 in Europe and a version of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s Remicade treatment for autoimmune diseases in 2017, according to Ko. A separate unit called Samsung Biologics Co. has contracts to manufacture biologic medicines for branded pharmaceutica

Via Andrew Spong
Andrew Spong's curator insight, May 12, 2014 4:18 AM

For me, this is the biggest health story of the year so far.


With Samsung's dominance in the mobile market and its focus on integrating health into its products, there can be little doubt that the company has the potential to make a huge impression on the future of healthcare.

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Pfizer begins using ‘digital’ reps

Pfizer begins using ‘digital’ reps | Pharma_News |

Pfizer has begun using digital drug representatives to market medicines, leaving the decision as to whether they want to see them in doctors’ hands.

It’s an unusual move that creates more of an indirect form of marketing. The firm’s new service it calls ‘Pfizerline’ has its own website with a blurb saying: “Ask Pfizer............, who can give you promotional product information at a time convenient to you. It’s simple. It’s flexible. It’s convenient. Calls can be arranged to suit your busy practice schedule.”


The service offers new ways for primary care doctors to talk to reps and also offers links to product information about branded medicines available in the UK.


There is in addition the ability to book an online meeting room that Pfizer says provides a “rich multi-media interaction where you can see our trained UK-based digital representative, as well as the product presentation they are discussing with you”.


In a nutshell, it means UK doctors can speak to reps via a Skype-like device about new products from Pfizer. Doctors can book online via a booking form and a ‘digital rep’ will arrange a time to talk on the phone, or video link at


The process, dubbed ‘digital detailing’, is designed around promotional product discussions and is within the ABPI rules.

Via Andrew Spong
Sven Awege's comment, October 6, 2013 6:24 PM
Is this really new? I thought they were doing this many years ago - just new way to describe it?
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Strategy: Why Big Pharmas Do What They Do -- And How Silicon Valley Might Help Them Think Differently - Forbes

Strategy: Why Big Pharmas Do What They Do -- And How Silicon Valley Might Help Them Think Differently - Forbes | Pharma_News |

AstraZeneca’s revitalization strategy, announced this week, follows the same well-worn playbook used by so many in the industry, employing approaches vividly familiar from my consulting days: cut headcount, externalize R&D, focus on select therapeutic areas, push biologics, and explore an interesting flyer (in this case, technology from Moderna, a Cambridge, MA-based company developing novel mRNA therapeutics — see Luke Timmerman’s recent Xconomy post).


While not offering profound solutions, these restructuring activities, through cost cutting and distraction, are likely to buy AZ at least a little bit of breathing room from the increasingly critical analysts that have massed at the company’s gates.


I’d like to review what may be driving these changes in the industry, and conclude with several alternative strategies big pharma might consider.

 Read the full article at Forbes by clicking the title

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Fixing a Broken Drug Business by Spreading the Wealth,

Fixing a Broken Drug Business by Spreading the Wealth, | Pharma_News |
Photo: Bill David Brooks / Flickr You might plausibly argue that ice cream parlors and bobby socks reached a peak back when Elvis was still the king, b
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Will "Robust Pipeline" Yield More New Drugs?

Will "Robust Pipeline" Yield More New Drugs? | Pharma_News |

Biopharmaceutical companies are touting their huge investment in R&D, which has filled the drug pipeline with more potential first-in-class medicines, including orphan drugs, personalized medicines and new therapies based on novel scientific strategies. A report by the Analysis Group for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) documents more than 5,000 new medicines in the pipeline globally, many for untreated diseases and life-threatening conditions. The promise is that this more robust pipeline will lead to more new critical therapies for patients.

Yet, the data also reveals that most of these therapies are in early stages of development:  less than 1000 of the 5400 products in clinical development have reached stage III, and only 82 are headed for market following approval by the Food and Drug Administration. The attrition from phase II to phase III remains very high despite a range of scientific advances and regulatory improvements. Of nearly 3000 new molecular entities (NMEs) to treat cancer, only 288 have reached stage III clinical trials, and only  a handful make it to market. Therapies for infectious diseases seem to have a higher success rate, with about 700 investigational projects yielding 22 recent approvals. Certainly a higher “early kill” rate may be a sign of progress in the  risky world of pharma R&D, where a key goal is to avoid costly phase III studies that won’t pass muster with FDA. The current study doesn’t provide the historical data that could tell more about whether pharma R&D is becoming more productive, but there doesn’t seem to much evidence of progress.

A more telling sign is the recent rise in FDA’s approval numbers for NMEs, reaching almost 40 in 2012 and still providing steady good news for sponsors. The promise is that more INDs eventually will yield more new approved medicines. “There are no guarantees” from a stronger and more diverse pipeline, but the study reveals the “depth of possibilities,” observed Genia  Long of the Analysis Group in a PhRMA webinar. However, it also is important for pharma to reduce the overall cost of developing new drugs, and that will require more informative early stage research strategies that efficiently separate potential winners from likely losers. Researchers are making progress in developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, pointed out Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter, acknowledging that success “will require longer, more expensive studies to show benefit for patients.”

The PhRMA report aims to demonstrate to the public and policymakers the high value of biopharmaceutical R&D and the importance of continuing government support for FDA programs and research funded by the National Institutes of Health. It also highlights the value – and the need to pay for – new therapies to treat rare diseases and conditions that currently lack effective treatment. Ultimately, these new, costly research endeavors could lead to cures and preventives for cancer, Alzheimer’s and other devastating illnesses that affect millions. But the costs for individual patients may be enormous, and it remains to be seen if public and private health programs will pay for them.

Via Lionel Reichardt / le Pharmageek
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How is medical communications responding to the evolving needs of its pharma clients? A live Digitally Sick podcast from the MedComms Networking event in Oxford on 17th January

How is medical communications responding to the evolving needs of its pharma clients? A live Digitally Sick podcast from the MedComms Networking event in Oxford on 17th January | Pharma_News |

Recorded live in front of an audience of 70 medical communications and pharmaceutical professionals in Oxford by the @Digitally_Sick team of Faisal Ahmed (@sickonthenet), Alex Butler (@Alex__Butler) and Andrew Spong (@andrewspong) at the kind invitation of Peter Llewellyn (@NetworkPharma)

Via Alex Butler, Andrew Spong
Alex Butler's curator insight, January 21, 2013 4:22 AM

The first live recorded podcast from Oxford tackles medical communications in an age of social technologies and digital media.


In front of 70 medical communications professionals the team look at the definition of medcomms, what the challenges are at the present time and in the future and what needs to be done to meet these challenges. There is comment and perspective from a lively and engaged audience.

Sven Awege's curator insight, January 22, 2013 3:05 AM

Bravo to our Digitally Sick pioneers! Real engagement under the spotlight has taken this to another level.

Alex Butler's comment, January 22, 2013 8:49 AM
Thanks Sven, appreciated :-)
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Pfizer vows to learn from virtual trial failure: (#hcsm lessons learnt)

Pfizer vows to learn from virtual trial failure: (#hcsm lessons learnt) | Pharma_News |
Several months after Pfizer failed to recruit patients to its first ever virtual trial, the firm said it was looking to learn from the setback.

The pilot REMOTE trial was looking to recruit 600 patients suffering from overactive bladder disorder, and was asking them to use electronic diaries to record their experiences.

It was designed so that patients could avoid having to travel to clinics during the trial.

It was a first for pharma - as reported by InPharm last year - but the hype succumbed to practical difficulties when no one signed up for the trial.

Writing on Pfizer’s ‘Think Science Now’ blog, Craig Lipset, head of clinical innovation at Pfizer, said: “This pilot was testing a series of modules needed to enable patients to participate in a […] clinical trial entirely from home.

“Patient recruitment was one of many modules being tested, and the other modules worked very well. In the near-term we are focused on applying these successful modules to studies being planned and executed at Pfizer today.”

He added that the firm would not shy away from using social media and online tools to recruit patients, despite the problems it has had, and would re-launch REMOTE in 2013.

Lipset said: “I also want to clarify that this project does not represent a failure for, or withdrawal from the use of the internet or social media for patient recruitment.

“We routinely use the internet as a channel for recruitment in our studies and will continue to do so wherever it is appropriate. Recruitment strategies tend to be very study-specific, and we will be working to refine such strategies specific to a virtual trial approach.”


But a major problem with this trial, given the condition it targets, is that many patients affected by overactive bladder disorder are elderly, and may not use the internet as regularly as younger patients.

This could have been one reason as to why the REMOTE pilot failed to recruit and will prove to be a systemic problem for all trials targeting diseases that afflict the elderly.

Ben Adams is the reporter for Pharmafocus and and author of the DigiBlog site. He can be contacted via: email or Twitter.

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Video streams through Johnson & Johnson and Boehringer Ingelheims Veins

Video streams through Johnson & Johnson and Boehringer Ingelheims Veins | Pharma_News |
The world has gone social media crazy. The phenomenon has lent a strong culture toward sharing material, gathering useful data and creating greater engagement. People power has become the most democratic way of ensuring videos, articles and photos enjoy optimum visibility. Statistics including the number of views, volume of subscriptions and comments, from the general public, are a huge part of this.

YouTube has become so successful that it has built a webpage to showcase these figures. It is undoubtedly one of the first sites you think of when it comes to locating video content, whether it’s comical, educational or catch-ups that you desire. Additionally, other sites, such as Vimeo, Hulu and Veoh are following closely behind. Some, such as, are even monetising their sites, whereby, the site pays users for their videos.

It seems that online video footage is valuable stuff as pressure from the public and, indeed the commercial sector, to upload content appears relentless. We can certainly expect fresh, new and exciting changes to evolve in the near future.

One novelty associated with videos is that they do not have to be viewed on their specific platform, but can be embedded onto your home page or as an advertisement on pages which your target audience are likely to visit. This may be the reason why videos are so widely used on the Internet today. Even pharma, who traditionally have a reputation for being conservative and prefer to refrain from following the crowd - because of the nature of their products - have signed up to the viral video concept! Here are a few examples:



Johnson & Johnson are using video content alongside other content on their corporate site. Boehringer Ingelheim, has an oncology site for journalists, named The White Room. The site primarily features video content and downloads, which are extremely popular mediums as previously discussed. The third example features the Life with Lung cancer site which is a new patient site for lung cancer patients outside of the US. It primarily includes video content and interactive tools interactive tools can additionally be found on this site, which help to engage with the audience. Pharma is no longer about uninspiring and dry information! Another progression might include specialised video sites, specifically designed for industries that handle sensitive information. These sectors could hugely benefit, as sites will carry an industry code which will provide direction on uploaded content. Pharma TV fits into this category and presents a site similar to the extremely popular TED talks, but instead will be directed by news and sound bites from leading industry experts.


My post has clearly shown that pharma is increasingly moving toward embracing the culture of social media. There seems to be plenty more room for communication via video platforms and those who dare are slowly invading that space. Healthcare is no longer inaccessible to the general public and pharma brands now have the tools to educate as well as communicate.

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We don’t have the answers for pharma digital yet

We don’t have the answers for pharma digital yet | Pharma_News |
Speaking to InPharm, Khanna said: “It’s very early days in pharma’s use of digital and for any heavily regulated industry, I think it is going to become a challenge to figure out how you’re going to actually implement a digital plan.

“So for the pharma industry and also for healthcare providers, there’s going to be a lot of unknowns, and I’m not sure if we have the answers yet about how we can help regulate this space.”

But Khanna added that the use of digital is key for pharma, and agreed that it should be used to engage with patients and doctors.

“I think patients want to be more informed than ever about their healthcare,” he said.

“These digital spaces are venues that patients and other stakeholders use to update themselves on their information, and we have to be in there in the right way to make sure that people that want information can have access to it.

“But just how we regulate it is something that we are going to have to work through.”

Online pitfalls

Some firms have already fallen foul of the ABPI’s Code of Conduct when communicating online, and are asking for more guidance on using this new medium.

Recent examples include the PMCPA’s criticism of Shire’s Vpriv website after it was found to be making false claims about its drug.

Last year, InPharm revealed that Bayer had published two tweets promoting several prescription medicines, and was found in breach of the Code, leading to questions over the industry’s handle on social media.

In response to these issues the ABPI has recently established a new group to help pharma with its online communications.

The ‘Digital Communications Working Group’ was set up last year, and will have further meetings in 2012 to discuss best practice for pharma and how to work within a tight legal setting.


Wherever you look it seems as if pharma is screaming out for help with its digital communications, but the answer is simple: use common sense.

The problems that keep arising are not ones unique to the digital space and the industry needs to simply understand the legal requirements it works under, regardless of how or where it is communicating.

The example of Shire’s Vpriv site is a case in point - it is not the internet’s fault that Shire uploaded incorrect information, it was the company’s fault.

This may be an individual’s failing or a problem within the firm - but it has not come from Shire being unsure about how to communicate online.

The same goes with Bayer’s tweet - much was made in the press about this being the death knell of pharma’s use of social media, but this is ridiculous.

That was down to an individual error, as pharma companies cannot promote prescription-only medicines to the public in the UK - Twitter was not the problem here, and again the fault lies with the firm.

My advice is that there is no silver bullet for these problems, and they cannot be resolved by having working groups or firms dedicated to teaching pharma how to behave online.

Rather, there should simply be better checks on all information coming out from a firm, regardless of what medium it will be used in.
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Pharma marketing to physicians [infographic]

Pharma marketing to physicians [infographic] | Pharma_News |

Via Thibaud Guymard
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Prescribable Mobile Apps Huge Threat for Pharma - Forbes

Prescribable Mobile Apps Huge Threat for Pharma - Forbes | Pharma_News |

With the proliferation of mHealth apps, it was only a matter of time before healthcare providers would start prescribing apps as soon as apps proved to be as or more effective than prescription drugs. Happtique, a mobile health application store and app management solution startup will launch a trial of mRx™, the first program to enable physicians to prescribe mHealth apps to patients. You could call it an “app formulary” that complements (and competes) with a traditional drug formulary. Anecdotal evidence has circulated that some apps have been more effective at addressing some chronic conditions than drugs. As more hard data is available, this represents a major threat to lucrative drug franchises. Pharma Looking Like a Cross Between Railroads and Newspapers

As I outlined in IBM’s Reinvention Should Inspire Flat Pharma Businesses, pharma faces a grim future if they don’t take action. A program such as Happtique’s can be either a huge opportunity or a huge threat depending on how they handle it. Over the last several months, I have had many meetings with leaders of pharma companies that are eerily reminiscent of meetings I had in the latter half of the 90′s with newspaper executives.

Pharma execs will often share that when they gather as an industry, they all commiserate with their industry colleagues that their business is in their words “effed”. However, when they return to their office “innovation” is little more than incremental tweaks to existing business models. Like the newspaper execs I observed, the vast majority either seem to not fully believe the consensus about the future or they are simply unable to marshal the ability to drive change within their organizations. In either case, they are lulled into complacency as they remain hugely profitable and face the reality of dealing with the short-term thinking of Wall Street. I’m afraid most of them will have a final chapter of their career that reads the same as newspaper execs of that era. The chapter title will be “He/she couldn’t read the handwriting on the wall.” I have yet to see a pharma CEO like John Paton who is one of the few newspaper CEOs to fully take advantage of the changed media landscape.

In fairness, John Paton took over a bankrupt newspaper chain so it’s relatively easier to make drastic change when an organization is that close to extinction. It is instructive to know that IBM swung from their most profitable year to losing $16 billion in just three years. The lesson is that change looms out there for awhile and then hits like a freight train. The question is whether pharma will have to wait until they near death or if they can make bold changes before they are in a death spiral like the newspaper companies before them.

Smart Pharma Will Get Out of the Stands and Onto the Field

There have been a proliferation of “app challenges” that have been sponsored by pharma. While the challenges are a step in the right direction, they are doing the equivalent of providing polite applause from the stands and giving the gladiators (aka startups) some modest rewards for their efforts. When I am asked for my advice by pharma execs regarding how to drive change and innovation, my primary piece of advice is to get out of the stands and onto the playing field. They can put more skin in the game (both money and people), however it need not be at the same scale as their venture arms. In fact, they could probably get involved with ten companies for the cost of one of their venture investments in biotech.

Consider the learning they could get from the program Happtique is running. One of the benefits of participating in a program like this is pharma would get out of their industry bubble. For the program trial, Happtique is recruiting physician prescribers who treat heart disease, diabetes, and musculoskeletal conditions, as well as physical therapists and trainers to test the technology with health and fitness apps. After a training program, Happtique will track both prescribing processes and patient mRx™ downloads through early summer. “Mobile app prescribing will add an entirely new dimension to my ability to care for patients,” said Steven Magid, M.D. of New York-based Hospital for Special Surgery. “The use of Happtique’s mRx™ will ultimately improve patients’ health.”

Another Forbes contributor, Dr. David Shayvitz, comments in Pills Still Matter; So Does Biology — Managing Expectations About Digital Health about the combination of pills and apps likely being the most effective combination. I agree. Another sage industry commentator, John Moore of Chilmark Research, has interesting analysis in a piece mHealth: There When You Need It. He debunks the myth that lower income people won’t engage with mHealth apps, however two key attributes need to be present. First, physicians reimbursement needs to be aligned with outcomes (and thus the transition from fee-for-service to fee-for-value that is underway). Second, patients consistently engage if there is someone they are interacting with via the tool such as a nurse.

Lessons from Microsoft for Pharma

I’m the first to say I’m not an expert in pharma. However, I can see pattern recognition and have seen how one of the few organizations to spend as much on R&D as pharma (Microsoft) can be both a cautionary tale and a guiding light. Over the last 15 years, Microsoft has spent tens of billions on R&D. I would argue there are only two true stand-alone successes that have emerged out of that massive investment — Xbox and Expedia. In both cases, Microsoft physically and culturally separated them from the mothership. In Expedia’s case, it also made the most sense to separate them financially. It wasn’t that the Xbox and Expedia teams had people who were any smarter or hard-working than other teams at Microsoft. The key was they were unshackled and unfettered.

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Growing Support for Co-creation Between Pharma and Patients: Leveraging Social Media as Business Accelerators | 9010Group

Growing Support for Co-creation Between Pharma and Patients: Leveraging Social Media as Business Accelerators | 9010Group | Pharma_News |
Healthcare Packaging reports that support is growing for increased collaboration between pharmaceutical companies and patients in research processes worldwide, according to a new report by healthcare intelligence company GBI Research. Patient perspectives are increasingly being sought by drug regulators and reimbursement authorities, who hope to better meet the needs of their customer base.

Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs)

Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs) are increasingly being seen as valuable assets to drug regulators, who recognize that patients should be brought in early in the regulatory process to help define an acceptable benefit-risk balance for particular disease areas.

The FDA and the European Medicines Agency are working to establish processes to support this, and reimbursement authorities are looking to patients to help them define truly valuable new medicines.

The EU Patient Partnership Project (PatientPartner)

The PatientPartner project promotes the role of patient organizations in the clinical trials context . It created a virtual network called the European Network of Patients Partnering in Clinical Research (ENCPR) to empower European patient organizations to interact with the other stakeholders in clinical trials.

The PatientPartner website states:

“The aim of this project was to identify the patients’ needs for partnership in the clinical trials context. Moreover, the project lead to a well-organised and sustainable communication platform and guidelines, to enable the mutual beneficial interactions between patients and clinical trial professionals. “

Barriers obstructing sucessful partnerships

In the article barriers are mentioned that obsctruct the creation of successful partnerships between patient organizations and pharmaceutical organizations. With regard to patient organizations, they are the lack of:

ExpertiseAwareness of clinical researchOrganizational structure

With regard to pharmaceutical organizations, they are:

Concerns over potential negative publicityPossible delays of clinical trial processesLoss of control when proprietary information is shared

Social media as business performance accelerators: faster, better cheaper

Within the growing support of collaboration between pharma and patients, can collaboration be supported and enriched to enable faster, better and cheaper output if social media are being deployed?

Yes, the PatientPartner project is one case that shows that. The barriers mentioned earlier can be taken away – where and as much as possible – by social media.

The virtual network ENPCR is a case that shows how such a technology and platform offers a faster, better and cheaper means to accelerate collaboration on a European level, and be a one stop shop for other stakeholders to get in touch with European patient organisations for advice on, or participation in, clinical research.

The lack of expertise and awareness of clinical research can be diminished in a cost-effective way by deploying social media to support these. Expertise can be shared easier and faster (within the preconditions). Awareness be raised by continuous involvement of stakeholders, becoming on top of mind and letting involved stakeholders be an intrinsic part and extension of the organization.

Concerns over potential negative publicity and loss of control when proprietary information is shared can be constrained by listening and engaging with people talking about it, sharing their anxieties over the matter and showing involvement.

Depending on the sources that could create possible delays of clinical trial processes, pharma organizations can investigate how social media – means of sharing, transparancy and accountability – can help take these away.

The most important is the growing support to open up processes and involving (actively or passively) stakeholders to be more market-driven.
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Culture as a Culprit of the Pharma R&D Crisis - Forbes

Culture as a Culprit of the Pharma R&D Crisis - Forbes | Pharma_News |
Everyone knows about the Pharma industry’s R&D productivity woes, but few seem to have solutions that work.

Part of treating the problem requires an accurate diagnosis, and this winter’s work in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery by Scannell et al from Sanford Bernstein (a must read) does a good job of explaining a number of possible drivers: the ‘better than the Beatles’ problem; the ‘cautious regulator’ problem; the ‘throw money at it’ tendency; and the ‘basic research–brute force’ bias. Others covered the piece with additional superb commentary here, and here.

I’m sure all these contribute to some degree, though I must admit I’m a bit skeptical that the “industrialization” of R&D are real culprits (i.e., blaming high throughput screening, target-driven reductionism, and other technologic approaches). Drug discovery is an information-rich world today in large part due to the impressive advances in robotics, screening, -omics technologies, and the like. More information will help us if we learn to integrate it properly. And phenotypic screening isn’t dead today, lots of companies still do it; regardless, it is certainly not a cure-all for what ails the industry. Applied in a thoughtful way, I have trouble believing that all these “industrialized” approaches won’t add value in the long run.

However, Eroom’s law, as the authors call the productivity decline, is both impressive and scary and reversing it will be important to the industry’s survival.

I do think there are reasons to be optimistic. In the startup world, I witness incredible examples of research productivity in a number of our innovative startups, as well as across the early stage ecosystem. I’ve seen fully characterized Development Candidates come from creative drug discovery efforts for 5-10x less that what it costs in Big Pharma. We’ve seen Fast-to-PoC approaches for novel targets on a fraction of the cost and time larger organizations would budget for; while not ubiquitous, there are plenty of examples. So despite biotech’s historic legacy of unproven productivity advantages vs Pharma, I’m optimistic that the recent crop of startup companies over the past five years are going to change the picture through more capital efficient, distributed R&D models. Many others share this perception that biotech is doing something right.

What could be driving this productivity advantage? Is it that the people are smarter? As a generality, I don’t think so. The same academic labs generate PhDs and post-doc’s that are employed by Big Pharma and small biotech alike. I’d argue that in most Big Pharma companies the Principal Scientists and Project Leaders are as good if not better than similar peers in small companies. The big companies definitely offer better pay packages and far more lab resources to support their research aims. So if it’s not the people, what is it?

Fundamentally, I think the bulk of the last decade’s productivity decline is attributable to a culture problem. The Big Pharma culture has been homogenized, purified, sterilized, whipped, stirred, filtered, etc and lost its ability to ferment the good stuff required to innovate. This isn’t covered in most reviews of the productivity challenge facing our industry, because its nearly impossible to quantify, but it’s well known and a huge issue.

Here are three of the hallmark traits of the culture crisis facing Pharma from my vantage point:

Tyranny of the Committee. Layers and layers of managers exist between the lead scientist and the head of R&D, and these layers govern by committee. We see this all the time on the BD side: the scouting committee oks the initial discussion, the science committee does some diligence, the senior committee authorizes negotiation and diligence, the diligence team sends dozens in for corporate endoscopy, the negotiation committee etc… But it goes beyond BD. Getting approvals for key project decisions require several rounds of approval. Taskforces are formed to evaluate the effectiveness of taskforces. Timelines are set by when they can get on specific committee agendas. It’s an endless fight to justify and rejustify decisions. And the amount of time (and money) wasted up and down the R&D organization by this tyranny is unquantifiably large. Where’s the empowered individual in all this?
Stagnation through risk avoidance. In big companies with large teams and big budgets, no one wants to rock the boat by doing killer experiments too quickly, especially when big discovery efforts are put against them; the fear of the “false negative” project termination is huge. But lets face it, most lead candidates are false positives (through approval) so accepting more “false negative” risk early on is probably fine. There’s also a tendency to do more work simply because they can: with big budgets, project teams in Pharma will often do a 6-10 pharmacology models to “prove” a project’s worth vs the 1-2 models that give you 90% confidence to move into Development. This isn’t just about experiments; it’s about decision-making. A cover-your-a** mentality around risk avoidance coupled with committee-driven communal decision-making has led to a very bad outcome. Where are all the risk-takers in Pharma drug discovery today? Does anyone really put their neck on the line anymore? All great drugs were saved from termination by neck-exposed risk-takers. Without enough risk-takers, progress and innovation have stagnated inside the walls of Pharma.
Organizational entropy’s negative impact. For most of Big Pharma, at least a few mega-mergers and their integrations have happened in the past decade. And for all of Big Pharma, there’s been the semi-annual reorganization around the latest fad in corporate design: matrix management, proliferating centers of excellence, end-to-end therapeutic area groups vs functional lines, disease area strategies rather than site strategies, etc… These cause constant organizational upheaval with levels of distraction that can’t be measured. Resumes fly through cyberspace as soon as a deal is announced. Organizations are frozen as these changes happen, fear of the unknown paralyzes entire project teams, and closures/layoffs happen without much regard to upgrading the talent and weeding out the deadwood. Drug R&D takes typically 10-15 years from start to approval; how can it stay on track with a cadence of change this fast? As I noted last summer, most new drugs approved today were discovered in the 1990s. Do you think those approvals would have happened faster if there weren’t so many mega-mergers and reorganizations in the meantime?
These are just a few of the cultural traits that destroy value and impair productivity. I’m sure there are many others. The solution is simple to say and hard to do: enable the full empowerment of drug hunters and their groups to do what they do without entropy and hold them accountable. Two things are probably required for this, at minimum:

First, swallow the red pill (the painful reality one) and get layers of Matrixed management out of the way. Don’t create centers and other corporate speak.=, and god forbid don’t establish a new committee to do it. Create autonomous teams that don’t report into the organization, but instead report to the top. Co-locate them on or off of the legacy campus, but in touch with the local biotech ecosystem. Ask them to tackle important research goals geared around an RFP-like process. If you want, create a Board of Directors for them. Maybe even bring in outsiders (like greybearded veteran drug hunters) to help with governance.

Second, give these groups a five-year budget and then largely ignore them. Allow for governance at the project team level without suffocating committees. Tell Wall Street that you’re going to spend $X Billion over the next 5 years in R&D, lock it in and don’t keep changing the number, changing the headcount, changing the sites, changing the management. Reduce the entropy so they can focus on drug discovery. And if they don’t deliver valuable assets, revisit, learn, and consider moving on. But do it over proper research timelines that allow programs to gestate.

These may not be the right answers, but I think it would be a great experiment to try. And better than lots of the tinkering going on today.

It pains me to see the toll the unhealthy culture of Big Pharma R&D is having on innovation and our ecosystem. There are a ton of great scientists inside of the walls of the big R&D organizations just waiting to be unleashed. And if Pharma won’t unleash them, we’ll end up hiring them into our biotechs sooner rather than later.

Patrick Morrill's curator insight, October 1, 2013 1:59 PM

Stagnation through risk avoidance is all Big companies issue not just pharma. 

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Drugmakers And NIH Band Together To Speed Up Research

Drugmakers And NIH Band Together To Speed Up Research | Pharma_News |

The National Institutes of Health is teaming up with major drug companies in a new effort to identify disease-related molecules and biological processes that could lead to future medicines.

The public-private partnership is called AMP, for the "Accelerating Medicines Partnership," and it will focus first on Alzheimer's disease, Type 2 diabetes, and two autoimmune disorders: rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

This is a five-year, $230 million venture. NIH is splitting the cost with industry. In addition to ten companies that include Pfizer, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson, nonprofits like the American Diabetes Association and the Alzheimer's Association have also joined.

They'll work together to identify the most promising biological targets for new therapies. All the scientific data produced by the venture will be shared publicly. "Even if we weren't working with companies we would do this," says Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH. He officially unveiled the partnership at a press event in Washington, D.C., and in a blog post. The Wall Street Journalreported on the venture late Monday.

Collins says after new targets are found, companies can then develop drugs that take advantage of them. The goal is to speed new therapies to market, while avoiding the costly and disappointing failures that currently plague the drug-development process.

The project will be managed by the Foundation for the NIH. It's not the first time that pharmaceutical companies have come together under its leadership to form research consortiums.

What sets this venture apart is its comprehensive approach in prioritizing diseases where the science is evolving and patients' needs are pressing, plus the breadth of this many companies and the NIH working together, says Mikael Dolsten, head of research and development at Pfizer.

"I have considerable enthusiasm that this is unique," says Dolsten. "It's complementary, and we should aspire high here."

Hopefully, the collaboration will help illuminate the fundamental basis of what's driving disease, says Lisa Olson, vice president of immunology research at AbbVie Bioresearch Center, Inc., one of the industry partners. Asked if she had seen a partnership similar to this one before, she said simply, "No."

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Digital Health: Will Pharma Follow or Lead? - Forbes

Digital Health: Will Pharma Follow or Lead? - Forbes | Pharma_News |

Time to step up or step out of the way?

The digital health movement is growing rapidly.  Almost everyday we hear of new technology, apps and ideas that bring the promise of improved medical care, health and wellness. From hand-held ultrasound devices to smart phone arrhythmia monitoring, the digital health movement isn’t only about expensive pedometers and the ‘gym elite’ but about key areas in health and wellness that will have a direct impact on medical care.    Pharma–for better or worse–has a seat at this table.

Yet there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between pharma and many of the innovations that are emerging. Perhaps it’s the very nature of these innovations that conflicts with the conservative pharmaceutical industry.  Perhaps it’s still a period of ‘watchful waiting’.  Or even, it could be yesterday’s brand managers, sales reps and administrators who, while caressing the piles of pills that define an industry, are just missing what many define as the next revolution since the personal computer.

Whatever the case, there are many compelling reasons for pharma to embrace digital health.  If not for today, certainly in the not so distant future.

The future of medical practice and pharmaceutical selling

The pressures on the practice of medicine are numerous.  From healthcare reform to the tsunami of clinical information and data, today’s providers are looking for ways to care and to cope.  Technology is an essential part of the solution.  And digital health is a central part of this equation.   The touch points for pharma are numerous and represent areas for engagement and support.  On demand information and analytics will shift the focus from bed side ‘rote memorization’  to “augmented digital expression” where a differential diagnosis and interventions come with the aid of a hand-held computer screen.  Further, the looming role of the electronic medical record will also set into motion a transformation from paper to electrons will catalyze the digital health movement and accelerate adoption. Many of these changes are happening now as a new generation of medical students begin to use their smart phones at bedside as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool with the same zeal as yesterday’s physicians who clung to their stethoscopes as validation of their clinical acumen.

The traditional role of the sales rep must also change.  The consultative nature of the brand detail will shift in parallel with the technology-driven changes in practice.  Pressing the flesh will transform to clinking a link and clinicians will adopt the conventions of today’s consumers and seek information in a controlled on-line setting. But perhaps more importantly, the days of typical case studies and efficacy charts will be replaced with a richer and more compelling presentation that are consistent with what this ‘techno’ generational  will simply expect.   And the experts themselves will change too–the standard practice of expert professorial engagement and peer to peer influence may be enhanced by none other than IBM IBM -1.1%‘s Watson and other ‘electronic’ thought-leaders.

Patients and caregivers will play an important role in the evolution of healthcare and digital health.  The emergence of “citizen scientists” who are empowered by increasingly focused and filtered information will act–alone and with like-minded people–to take greater control of care.  Self-advocacy will change ‘population-based’ treatment guidelines to more personalized care.  And the pandering “ask your doctor” headlines of DTC advertisements will shift to data-based claims that empower the patient and make a much stronger and direct link between the pharmaceutical industry and the true end-user, not the physician.

Maybe it’s digital narcolepsy?

Whatever the cause,  pharma needs to take notice. The cases studies and talking points that drive a traditional brand detail must be rethought and redefined in the context of tomorrow’s clinical reality.  A reality that’s actually happening today.

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FDA Lacks Priorities for Social Media for Pharma

FDA Lacks Priorities for Social Media for Pharma | Pharma_News |

Last December at the FDA-CMS Summit, Douglas C. Throckmorton, MD, Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) said, “This is a transformational time in the healthcare system. Expectations, resources, and challenges all changing,” but he forgot to mention social media for pharma companies.

He pointed out that “today many more treatments are available, but patterns of manufacturing, use and access to information have shifted dramatically. Patients and clinicians want:

New products sooner that are safer and more effectiveDeliver on the promise of basic science discoveriesIncreased involvement in processAccurate and understandable information sooner, especially in post-marketing”

Who could argue with that? And just a few of the key priorities for 2013 would include:

Focus on Patient Participation in Drug Development ProcessPatient Participation in Medical Product DiscussionsPatient-Focused Drug DevelopmentMore systematic and expansive approach to obtaining the patient perspective on disease severity or the unmet medical need in a therapeutic area to benefit the drug review process

With all of this focus on the patient, does regulation or corporate social media policy need to change to allow a real dialogue about medicines? Unlike the 2013 Strategic Priorities established for FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), CDER’s strategic plan isn’t so… strategic. The plan doesn’t include any guidance for social media. Industry claims that it is working under antiquated laws and a lack of guidance from the agency. Those claims aren’t off-base, particularly when you consider the only social media guidance the FDA has issued so far has been in the form of warning letters about the use of the Facebook “like” button.

A core group of new technologies at companies such as Abbott, Novartis, Actelion, Novo Nordisk, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, ProPharma, Genentech, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Janssen, Takeda, Vertex, Merck, Sharp & Dohme, Watson, Nektar, Wyeth, Schering-Plough and Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals is expected to grow rapidly for communication and education purposes. Industry expects social networking, podcasts and online video to grow in use as critical tools for communicating disease state and product information


I’m on a panel at ePharma Summit in NYC this week, Social Media for Pharma: A Match Made in Heaven or Hell? moderated by Bob Brooks, Executive Vice President, WEGO Health. Michael Weiss, Crohn’s Health Activist, Tiffany Peterson, Lupus Health Activist, Dee Sparacio, Ovarian Cancer Health Activist, and I will be discussing how advocate groups use social media to communicate and educate their group members.

Marketers are seeing the tools as a way to spread information rapidly and educate through podcasts, video and social networks.  They also have found that these mediums prove to hold very effective messaging for those who they communicate to.  For Pharma companies to be truly successful today they need to find a way to communicate successfully internally to their market place of physicians and those selling the drugs, but also externally to communicate the effectiveness of those buying the products. What can Pharma learn about interacting with their community online from patient advocacy groups?

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Top pharma companies in social media: whose opinion are we polling?

Top pharma companies in social media: whose opinion are we polling? | Pharma_News |
An entry in the '100 Steps for Pharma' series Millions of words have been written over recent years across media channels about the relative performance of pharmaceutical companies in social enviro...
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Pharma's digital health strategy: four options

Pharma's digital health strategy: four options | Pharma_News |

David Shaywitz writes:


As pharma companies confront the digital health wave and contemplate their digital health strategy, I see four high-level options:


1. Opportunistic adjacency: Leverage healthcare knowledge and regulatory expertise to develop technology in a related but distinct area, ultimately anticipating it evolves into a discrete business unit, analogous to animal health (e.g. Lilly’s Elanco), generics (Novartis subsidiary Sandoz), nutrition, and consumer health.


2. Follow with interest: Determine that digital health, while promising, is still in its earliest days.  Just as some pharmas may be relieved they resisted investing in the first round of stem cell technologies, for instance, they might be similarly inclined to adopt a watchful waiting posture, and give the field some time to settle out.  Functional areas could utilize specific digital health solutions when they evolve to the point they are available from vendors, similar to the way other solutions are utilized by the industry.

 3. Elevate: Set up a dedicated “digital health” division envisioned not as a standalone business unit, but tightly integrated and explicitly intended to support the main pharma business, similar to the way many companies have dedicated “biomarker” divisions, for example.  This group could be responsible for monitoring external developments and internalizing and operationalizing the most promising technologies.

4. Planned obsolescence: My personal choice, this approach would set up a dedicated “digital health” group, as in 3, but with the stated mission of catalyzing technology adoption, and with the explicit expectation that it would wind down within a set time (say five years).  If successful, awareness of the relevant digital health opportunities and expertise in their appropriate utilization would by that point be located in the individual functional areas.


Via Andrew Spong
Andrew Spong's curator insight, January 25, 2013 2:52 AM

In my opinion, 4 is the only viable alternative.


However, rather than effectively innoculating the business against innovation by hiving it off in the way David describes in order to reintroduce it in a nominal 'five years' (the classical 'long grass' time frame; imagine asking this question in 2008 when most of the digital health technologies we now use didn't exist), I'd favour seeding innovation across all business units simultaneously by supporting the intrapreneurs within each team who've shown aptitude.


Some will thrive, some will fail; however, digital health evolution will be supported across the entire enterprise in some capacity which will prove to be of greater utility than merely supporting an 'innovation showcase' at the margins of the business.


The former strategy attempts to side-step the major obstacle here (implementing and integrating changes that will have a real impact); the latter strategy confronts it head-on.


Pharma has to get better at failing faster, and learning from its experiences in order to inform its next experiments.


It's the science of digital health.

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Pharma and healthcare innovation: ten steps forward

Pharma and healthcare innovation: ten steps forward | Pharma_News |
If one takes a long view of the history of technological innovation in business, a pattern can be perceived:

An innovation emerges
A cohort of early adopters perceive its superiority to existing solutions, identify the benefits it can bring to their business, and begin to evangelise
Resistance is encountered from users of the incumbent dominant technologies, assisted by those who have a vested interest in its continuation such as vendors, developers, and service providers who have built business propositions around the existing solutions
A break point is reached: the technology either continues to attract adopters organically until it becomes a dominant solution, or else it falters and becomes a residual technology, dwindling to the point where it is used only by ideologically committed devotees and hobbyists
The majority are now users of the dominant solution, with all its benefits, and all its flaws.

However, the restless early adopter cohort will long since have moved on to explore the possibilities of more recent innovations,

For them, evolution is not over, and innovation will never cease.

Those innovators within pharma who are forging its digital future are not distracted by the chimerical threat of adverse events, interminable discussions regarding regulations, or the comfortable futility of considering the various merits and disadvantages of this week’s new hardware or social platform.

In order to thrive within healthcare’s global future, pharma innovators understand that companies will need to:

Reform corporate strategies around the principles of social business
Be instrumental in precipitating the transition from treatment to prevention in healthcare
Find ways to add value to the shared decision making agenda
Socialise the clinical trial process
Become a trusted provider of accurate, balanced information about its own products in discoverable contexts such as Wikipedia
Move to, and then move beyond, mobile-first development
Make sensor technologies, genomics and personalised medicine central to the future development of their enterprise
Adopt open technologies
Deploy secure, cloud-based solutions
Support intrapreneurial activities

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Allergan uses augmented reality to promote OTC eye drug

Allergan uses augmented reality to promote OTC eye drug | Pharma_News |
Allergan is using image-recognition smartphone app Blippar to bring print adverts for its OTC dry eye treatment Optive Plus to life.

Advertisements run this month in Ophthalmology Times Europe and in Ocular Surgery News will offer an augmented reality experience to readers who have downloaded the Blippar app.

Mark Wilson, marketing director, ocular surface disease, ophthalmology, Allergan, said: “Allergan’s ads reach ophthalmologists in a new and more engaging way, demonstrating how our product actually works, all by hovering a smart phone or tablet over a still image in a journal.

“In this case when the doctor points his phone at the Blippar enabled ad, three buttons appear allowing you to make the choice of immediately watching the mode of action animation, viewing the molecular structure or going straight to the website and of course reviewing any of the relevant references for our product Optive Plus.”

Allergan was assisted on the campaign by Publicis Life Brands Resolute, who said the technology has “massive and enriching potential in healthcare communications” with potential applications in product packaging and patient information leaflets.

Blippar, which launched in the UK last summer, is the first image-recognition smartphone app to bring augmented reality and instantaneous content to real-world newspapers, magazines, products and posters.

Augmented reality provides a view of a physical environment, augmenting it with computer generated input based on sounds, video, graphics or GPS information.
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To Market Niche Drugs, US Pharma Goes Online

To Market Niche Drugs, US Pharma Goes Online | Pharma_News |

Digital advertising spending by the US healthcare and pharmaceutical industry will hit $1.58 billion in 2012 and rise to $2.48 billion by 2016. But even as marketers move larger percentages of their budgets online, expiring patents and regulatory challenges will conspire to temper spending growth. “Most pharma marketers see digital marketing’s potential but remain rooted in old ways of doing things. Though adoption is uneven, a paradigm shift is under way as campaigns slowly but steadily migrate online,” said Victoria Petrock, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “The US Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Industry: Digital Ad Spending Forecast and Key Trends.”

The expiration of patents for blockbuster products will be the biggest industry change that will force new ways of thinking. “Faced with generic competition and fewer blockbusters in pharma pipelines, marketers are ramping up to promote a crop of new, specialized products that treat less-common diseases,” said Petrock. “Rather than turning to one-way, mass-market media to promote brand awareness and maintenance, marketers are experimenting with more interactive, lower-cost and more targeted digital channels.”

In particular, while promotional spending aimed at providers historically has been the largest slice of pharma companies’ marketing pie, it is becoming even more important as physicians turn online and to mobile devices for education and information. A 2011 study by Booz & Company and National Analysts Worldwide found that pharma executives in the US and EU put programs aimed at healthcare providers—as well as unpaid forms of internet promotion—high on their list of planned budget increases. The net effect of these factors will be that digital healthcare and pharma industry ad spending in paid media will grow at a compound annual rate of 14.1% between 2011 and 2016, which is the average rate for US online ad spending as a whole. Over the forecast period, the industry’s investment will remain stable, at about 4% of total US online ad spending.

According to Petrock, “Highly customizable digital formats will help educate and engage smaller target populations.” While search, online video and mobile will help marketers place “particular emphasis on helping key audiences more easily find products and services, educating them with video and reaching them across channels.”

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Mal Bernard discusses a pharma apocalype - what would happen if the industry failed?

Mal Bernard discusses a pharma apocalype - what would happen if the industry failed? | Pharma_News |

'Mal Bernard' returns to eyeforpharma to question the ethical issues our industry faces as well as to examine what would happen to pharmaceuticals if it faced a recession-style meltdown...

The world faced its greatest challenge in recent history back in 2008; the financial crisis that engulfed world economies saw the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Northern Rock and others. Confronted with the possibility of a total collapse of our banking system, world governments stepped in, saving the financial industry to the tune of several trillion dollars of tax payers’ money. While the trillion-dollar life raft offered up by Western World Inc. didn’t resolve all of our issues, I shudder to think about what might have happened had that support not been there.

I am not alone in thinking that we simply cannot allow the financial industry to fail, and so we groan under the weight of this bloated industry in the knowledge that if we buckle, life as we know it could end.

Now let me put this to you – what if it happened again? Only this time instead of our financial markets, the companies to collapse were those that provided us with chemotherapy, or insulin, or a number of other lifesaving treatments. What then? We already know that the spiralling cost of drugs is threatening the sustainability of pharma – so what would happen if a major company was on the brink of collapse? Could we cope? Would we prop them up?

The answer to the above question is obvious – we could not afford for even a single major pharma company to fall. Despite the negative press and the public’s somewhat misguided perception, the pharma industry performs a vital role in our world, and were it to face collapse it would literally be a life or death situation.

Of course, I’m not saying we’re on the brink of collapse – not even close, at all. However for all our talk about sales force effectiveness, e-detailing, KAMs, has anyone ever discussed the worst case scenario? Let’s look at this and ask, hypothetically, what would happen if pharma failed?

Looking back in history there were plagues that wiped out entire generations. Today you switch on the news and here about pandemics, swine flu, avian flu, this pandemic and that pandemic. If it ever came to the worst, our defence against that potential tsunami is pharma. We cannot do without pharma; it is intrinsically linked with who we are.

This brings us to another question. There is an ethical dilemma which is more critical within pharma than it is in other sectors, and it is this:

“If we cannot afford for pharma to fail, and if the industry is aware of this, does it have a moral obligation to conduct itself responsibly?”

Or, to put it another way, can we afford for them to be as reckless as our financial institutions have been in recent years?

At the end of the day, for all of the miraculous and life-saving solutions the industry can give us, they are in the business of making money. And without that money, they won’t produce the life-saving drugs we need.

Let’s be clear here, there’s a reason that pharmaceutical products are called “drugs”, there is a dependency on pharma products like no other. If Coca-Cola went bust tomorrow, we might miss it, but we’ll live without it. If Apple went down, we might not get our shiny new toys, but we’ll live. But if Roche, GSK or Janssen went tits-up?

In studies which have previously ranked pharma’s reputation, it frequently finds itself sharing a space next to the energy companies. The reasons are rarely out of the public eye but ultimately, it's an issue of dependency. When the public are dependent on your product you have to work hard to demonstrate you're not taking advantage of your position.

I’m not looking at our industry through rose-tinted glasses (have you ever known me to do that?). We’re far from perfect. As pipelines and margins continue to dry up, the industry is starting to panic. And staff retreat to what they know. So, despite the need for change, it comes slowly, if it comes at all. So big are these companies that they’re tripping over their own red tape. No one is enacting the required changes quick enough and I imagine some never will.

A few months ago, eyeforpharma hosted a dinner in London with some of the industry’s most interesting minds. After being asked what one single change he’d like to see, Dr Leandro Herrero (CEO of the Chalfont Project) responded: “I’d like to try to see if I could create a Lehman Brothers situation”. You can see him say this here. The point is, it would take a collapse on that scale to bring about any real change.

Here’s another question for you – are we even in a position to save the industry if we had to? Could we afford it? As mentioned in the opening paragraph, after realising that bailing out banks wasn’t good enough, we had to move onto entire countries. And we still have several nations on the sick list. Before you know it every major government will be maxing their credit cards to save struggling EU countries. So if it ever happened I ask you, where would the money come from to bail out another struggling industry? Do we have the resources to cover a pharma collapse?

The point to all of this is that yes, pharma is too big to be allowed to fail. But pharma as an industry knows this. Two phrases come to mind – “knowledge is power” and “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Meanwhile, all we can do is speculate. Until the “powers that be” see that a fundamental shift in our industry is needed, we’ll continue to ask the same questions, continue to receive the same answers, and continue to procrastinate and do nothing. Surely that's just as irresponsible isn't it?

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The Benefits of Commercial Analytics for Pharma: A Q&A with Peter Harbin of IMS Health by Ron Powell - BeyeNETWORK

BeyeNETWORK Spotlights focus on news, events and products in the business intelligence ecosystem that are poised to have a significant impact on the industry as a whole; on the enterprises that rely on business intelligence, analytics, performance management, data warehousing and/or data governance products to understand and act on the vital information that can be gleaned from their data; or on the providers of these mission-critical products.

Presented as Q&A-style articles, these interviews conducted by the BeyeNETWORK present the behind-the-scene view that you won’t read in press releases.

This BeyeNETWORK spotlight features Ron Powell's interview with Peter Harbin, senior principal at IMS Health. Peter and Ron discuss how pharma companies benefit from commercial analytics.

Peter, let’s start this interview by having you give us a brief overview of IMS Health.

Peter Harbin: IMS is one of the largest information, services and technology providers in the life sciences industry. We began over 56 years ago by collecting pharmaceutical data – market level data, prescription information – that is used by all pharma companies to drive their sales operations and their commercial operations processes. We have built a very significant business, with 7,800 employees globally. We also have a large consulting arm – approximately 1,600 consultants – and a healthy consulting practice to the life sciences industry.

IMS is going through its own transformation. As an employee, it’s a very exciting time to be part of IMS. We have been known as a data company, but are increasingly focused on being a healthcare solutions provider. What that really means is that data is our asset and it’s our core, but our customers are also looking for a full solution with domain expertise and technology enablement. Our number one goal is to help customers obtain better insights, which is directed toward helping them make better decisions so that their strategy, planning, and execution can be improved. We're focused, like I said, very heavily on the commercial operations space, so a lot of the offerings we have are geared toward helping customers with their analytics and business intelligence programs.

Can you tell me why it's so important for pharmaceutical companies to leverage their data effectively?

Peter Harbin: When I think about the pharmaceutical industry, I don't think it’s any more important than other industries, but it is different. The landscape is changing. A lot of the change has to do with legislation and some of the new ways that pharma is being governed. But overall, the profile of the customer has also evolved. In pharma, as we all know, blockbuster products are becoming fewer and fewer. A lot of genericization is taking place. Therapeutic areas that had blockbusters in the past now have five or six competitors because of the age of the therapeutic classes.

In the past, pharma companies organized a lot of their efforts around their biggest customers – the general practitioners and specialists who service patients and diagnose their conditions. Therefore, pharma was a big educator to physicians and ultimately helped them select the right prescriptions for their patients.

Today there are larger patient populations who have chronic diseases or mature disease states. A shift has taken place, and now it’s not only the prescriber that can dictate what the prescription should be, but also a very intricate network of non-prescribers – formularies, managed care groups and long-term care practices. This isn’t a new situation. Some pharma companies have traditionally focused on these groups; but for the majority of pharma companies, the influence network has grown.

It is critical for the commercial model of pharma companies that they be able to map out this relatively new influence network – what we call the healthcare management network. We call it the new commercial model, and we see a lot of companies that have had systems and data assets that were very specific to prescribers who are now looking to acquire new data assets, new information and then combine it so that they get a full picture of the network instead of just fragmented pieces. The idea is to get the 360-degree view of the customer, which, in this case, is the patient.

Peter, because these pharmaceutical companies can access all of your data and combine it with theirs, they now can assess the impact of any of their prescription drugs. That's really the benefit, right?

Peter Harbin: Yes, exactly. And when we look at third-party information combined with the data that pharma companies are collecting, that's really where the magic occurs. In the past, everybody talked about data, and then it moved from data to information. Now what is key and what everybody is looking for is the insight. The insight is the combination of the information that people look at, scenario-based discussions and different types of analyses. Pharma companies can look at not just what happened yesterday but also be a little more leading and predictive about what could happen tomorrow.

Compounding the challenge, pharma companies are facing the reality that there are a lot of new parts to the commercial model. In the past, it was really sales focused. Today, the commercial model includes marketing, and marketing has gone through a massive transformation because of social media, social networking and multichannel – looking at the web and how patients interact with websites. Pharma companies have discovered the value of social media, and it's bringing them a ton of useful information.

Can you explain commercial analytics and how an organization can achieve value with this type of analytics?

Peter Harbin: Data and information are key to commercial analytics, but we're really looking for the recipe where that comes together into insight. The value is being able to look at multiple, maybe even 50 or 60, datasets and pieces of information to bring the story together. The real magic and value – from a commercial analytics perspective – is getting insight in the quickest time possible. That becomes a competitive differentiator. A lot of companies have focused on sales operations to manage the relationship from strategy, planning, and execution, primarily targeting GPs and specialists.

At IMS, we start to look into the marketing groups, into the managed care organizations and actually into everyone who has a customer touchpoint. From an outbound perspective, that can be looking at what types of promotions and campaigns are run, and how feedback can be collected so the company can determine where the biggest value is occurring and where they should be investing their time.

In terms of effectiveness and efficiency, a lot of pharma companies are being tasked with doing more with less, and they can't only focus on the sales ops perspective. They need to look at the whole commercial model. The commercial model is where we bring in analytics from many different places that weren’t previously coordinated.

From an analysis perspective, the challenges pharma companies are facing today aren't much different from the ones they've faced in the past. But today they're being forced to sit down at the table to determine the business strategy that they want their people to be addressing. They need to shift the conversation in the boardroom from just looking at what happened yesterday in one channel to looking at what types of insights they need to manage the business. It’s really focusing on the integration of the sales and marketing touchpoints as well as all other necessary information that is associated with that.

The whole goal at the end of the day, outside of getting insights faster, is to create what we call actionable intelligence. It’s not just enough to say, "O.K., this happened or didn't happen," or determine how far off they were, versus what they projected. The goal is to get the users of these analytics systems to be able to say. "This is off, I know why it’s off, and here's what I need to do about it." And that's really the holy grail that people are trying to find. This evolution has been a little bit slower than I think it needed to be, and pharma companies are really looking today to companies like IMS and other partners in the industry to help them get to actionable intelligence.

The other part to that is not just actions for a salesperson or a marketer, but to really deliver it in the context of the role and how those roles need to work together. It’s the familiar adage of the right information at the right time to help drive the right action. That's really what we see a lot of and what our customers are coming to us to help them achieve.

Peter, what would you say are the core steps for deriving the most value from a commercial model or commercial analytics?

Peter Harbin: There are three or four key steps that we've seen through hundreds of implementations. We help customers get to commercial analytics with the limited amount of pain and money. We always come back to the point that now that the model has changed and the landscape is different, what are you actually trying to achieve and understand? I think a lot of mistakes have been made in the past where companies have taken whatever is in their data warehouse and made it available to everybody. That’s not driving insight. It’s just providing information in a different way.

We help our customers understand what business benefit a particular insight is going to help them achieve. This comes down to some very simple questions that a lot of people have not considered such as: If we could look at some of the customer data that’s coming from our websites and combine that with some other datasets, what could we learn?

We help our customers look at the exceptions, the outliers, to create the scenario-based analysis that can be used to identify options and understand the likely outcome for each option. To be reactive is one thing but looking to be proactive with outcomes that can be measured – in days rather than in months – and have a high degree of confidence that the steps you take will actually drive what you're trying to achieve, is another.

Once you know what you’re looking for and what you think will help drive your business to help deliver better patient outcomes, you can begin understanding data acquisition to see if you're acquiring the right data and information – and that leads to insight. Today, pharma companiess have a lot of structured data, but as they begin to include unstructured data – such as social media data and website results – deriving insights from that unstructured data becomes more complicated.

And then, of course, steps three and four involve how the data is collected and organized properly so it can be disseminated in the most effective way.

We really look at the combination of the assets, trying to raise the bar on the domain expertise so that companies can look at standard reporting as well as ad hoc reporting. We also help them take advantage of the delivery mechanisms – in this case, technology – to push alerts and exceptions in real time. For example, if there was a formulary win that impacts their business in either a positive or negative way, we help them determine how to plan around that and start communicating within minutes of the occurrence, instead of weeks or months.

From a data perspective, what are all the sources of the data used for commercial analytics?

Peter Harbin: We have worked with some companies that have 1,000 websites, and those websites all become sources of information. We look at it from six key source levels.

The first one is market environment, the second is applying the organization’s business objectives and the third is looking at the customer's customer. In this case, pharma doesn’t go directly to the customer unless they have an over-the-counter product, but rather they look at the actual patients who are the customer's customers to understand what's happening with them. The fourth is looking at the competitive landscape, the fifth is looking at market feedback that happens through the thousands of different points of contact from their websites or specific primary/secondary research. And the sixth is really all the five that I mentioned in context with how this information can be brought to the right person.

If you think about having 5,000 people who have a customer touchpoint, and all the different combinations and permutations with millions of customers, getting the right information to the right people at the right time becomes a very complex problem. We look at standard reporting, ad hoc reporting, predictive analysis and then how we integrate it so there’s relevance when someone in marketing looks at a dashboard. It is really those five areas and then everything in context.

Can you give us some specific examples of the benefits that these pharmaceutical companies are gaining from commercial analytics?

Peter Harbin: There are a lot of examples, and I’m going to group them into a couple of categories. One of the biggest challenges with analytics and insights is really ensuring that your company can use it, understand it and then be responsible to act on it. There's a big learning curve for any end user. That really identifies the first step. We have spent a lot of time making sure our systems and our customers’ systems (that we either help them build or build for them) take the user experience into consideration. These analytics platforms need to be intuitive. Most pharma companies don't want their field force to be analysts. They want their analytics platforms to be very user-friendly and ergonomic – meaning its available on a laptop and it's available on their iPad or or other mobile device so that they can be informed when something happens and they need to make a change in direction. This also needs to be very point-and-click, so performance is another big key.

For example, when we have a formulary change in pharma, there's a big impact and the impact can be measured in days, hours, or seconds. If you are a pharma company experiencing an event that has a negative impact – for example, your product is no longer covered or it’s covered less than it was before – then specific messaging needs to be given to the physicians so that they can: A) understand the change, B) understand how it impacts their prescribing behavior, and then C) be able to defend any negative messaging they may hear from their patients. Conversely, in the example I’m referring to, if the formulary change is a benefit to you, a lot of competing companies will be defending against it. It’s important for your sales representatives to know what messages to present and how to position it because it can also impact your line in a very positive way.

Today, with how commercial analytics has evolved, the available technology, and the insights that people have been able to predefine, those changes can now be measured in minutes and hours instead of weeks and months. Not every company is there yet, but they're slowly getting there.

Another example would be the healthcare management network. There's been a big paradigm shift in terms of just focusing on physicians and the prescriber. Now commercial analytics and being able to bring in other non-prescriber groups that have a lot of influence can really help a pharma company understand what's happening in the healthcare network and be able to formulate/readjust plans to make the biggest impact.

Through the power of these analytical tools and structuring the data warehouse correctly, we can help them weed through that rapidly. We've seen amazing transformation in most of the big pharma companies that are looking very horizontally, but also have the power to go vertically as well. Before it was more of a fractured view, but today they have a complete view. The net result of that, of course, is better information, better decisions, and better patient outcomes, which drives better shareholder value and profitability for the organization.

And it really speeds up these pharmaceutical companies. It increases their profits but at the same time reduces their expenses because of the data that is now available.

Peter Harbin: Absolutely. And that's a big driver today because a lot of pharma companies must comply with the Sunshine Act and are being closely scrutinized over spending. They’re in a situation where they have to be better at this type of activity than they have been before. It’s not an environment where the more promotion you do, the better you get. They're limited to the types of promotions they can do so it's about really finding the right person or group of buyers, and finding them faster and cheaper than before.

Peter, thank you so much for taking the time today to discuss the benefits and providing examples of how commercial analytics is benefiting the pharma industry.
BaseCase's comment, May 16, 2012 7:19 AM
Really interesting article! Thanks for posting!
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Gamification and online communities - what can pharma do? | InPharm

Gamification and online communities - what can pharma do? | InPharm | Pharma_News |
Gamification is the new buzzword in digital marketing and has the potential to engage consumers more than traditional strategies.

This new idea uses gaming as a vehicle to encourage people to adopt new habits or influence their behaviour. Companies are now using it to deliver their marketing messages and advertising to the wider public.

By far the biggest and well-known use of gamification comes from the Facebook game Farmville. The game’s developers Zynga use the popularity of Facebook as a platform for the game.

In Farmville players grow crops and can then sell them to their friends, or form a co-operative with other players to build a bigger and more productive farm.

The aim is to level up and users get more rewards the further into the game they go. It has nearly 100 million users and makes money by having players purchase certain items for their farms from the game’s developer. It is also a goldmine for Facebook, as advertisers will be lining up to be seen next to the game.

Farmville is successful because it keeps to the basic tenants of gamification: it’s simple, competitive, social and above all it offers rewards, which make players return to the game time and time again. This creates a community and a loyalty around the game, and ensures that it remains successful in the long-term.

Pharma joins the game

Pharma has now jumped on the gamification bandwagon and is starting to use it to promote disease awareness campaigns, but it begs the question: can gamification work for pharma?

Boehringer Ingelheim is betting that it can, and is the pioneer of this idea in pharma. The firm is currently developing a new game called Syrum to promote the industry as a whole, whilst also using it for its own marketing purposes.

Syrum is currently undergoing beta testing and is the brainchild of John Pugh, Boehringer’s director of digital communications. Pugh is a well-known trailblazer in pharma’s digital world, launching Boehringer’s Twitter feed in 2007, and making it a true online conversation with followers.

In January this year, Pugh won the PM Society’s Digital Pioneer Award for pushing the digital boundaries within the industry. His new project works much the same way as Farmville does, but just swaps farms and crops for laboratories and molecules.

Syrum will be available on Facebook where gamers play as an R&D pharma company that has to develop drugs and put them into clinical trials, mimicking the real industry process.

And there are social media aspects to it, as players can link up with their Facebook friends and give them gifts - these can then be used to customise their offices and laboratories. Players can also trade and collaborate to help create better compounds, but on the flipside they also have the option to steal their competitors’ staff and compounds to get ahead.

COPD and atrial fibrillation awareness campaigns

Boehringer has already established itself on the web with interactive campaigns to raise awareness. One of these is ‘Drive for COPD’, which aims to increase the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Its most recent campaign is ‘1 mission 1 million’. The campaign - to be found at heartofstroke - is aimed at raising awareness about stroke prevention and atrial fibrillation, which is what its new blood thinner Pradaxa has just gained new licences for around the world.

This campaign draws on a similar idea to gamification - that of ‘crowdsourcing’ - opening up a problem to an online community and asking their help to solve it.

However in this case, Boehringer is simply donating money - €1 million to be precise - but draws in users by asking them to apply for the funding.

The donations are only campaigns to raise awareness about atrial fibrillation and stroke, not for treatment. One of the most notable winners was a proposal for an online project, StrokeStrike, which was awarded €100,000.

The project, now under construction, is a mobile and online social platform that promotes the idea of playing sports and leading a healthier lifestyle to minimise the risk of stroke. It helps promote a healthy lifestyle by offering personalised monitoring of calories, exercise and so on, and allows your doctor to access this information.


For Boehringer, Syrum promotes disease education for people playing it, whilst also helping them filter their marketing messages for its ongoing disease awareness campaigns.

At the e-Patient Connections conference in September, Pugh explained that players of Syrum would be regularly asked to fill in questionnaires, or watch videos relating to its recent disease awareness campaigns.

In return Boehringer, would then offer players new equipment or drug compounds for Syrum as a reward. On the face of it, Syrum is about explaining the pharma industry to the public, and the stresses and strains of getting drugs to market.

But more specifically for Boehringer, is its use as a vehicle to communicate messages about its new disease awareness campaigns to bigger audiences.

Pharma must tread carefully in these areas in Europe, however, as the industry is not allowed to advertise prescription medicines to the public. This is the whole reason for disease awareness campaigns, which encourage patients to think about their condition, get diagnosed and potentially be prescribed medication.

The drive to promote COPD awareness is of course rooted in Boehringer’s aim to promote its products for the disease, most notably Spiriva (co-marketed with Pfizer). But these games can in no way plug its products, and all of pharma’s campaigns include lengthy and prominent disclaimers that they are for providing information, and not for promotion of medicines or services - but their raison d’être remains clear.

Promoting health

Some are looking at designing new games to promote health without any commercial agenda - and there are already several established apps and games out there to promote healthy living via gaming.

The ‘Lit2Quit’ mobile game has been developed by an academic team at the University of Columbia, and aims to help people stop smoking by having them do battle with swirling clouds of gas, amongst other things.

The Department of Health in the UK is also looking to use these types of apps to help patients and doctors understand certain medical conditions, and help with healthier living.

Analysts at Ernst & Young said in its recent report that games are becoming a new way to promote healthy living.

“Electronic and online games, long viewed as deterrents to healthy behaviour, are increasingly being used to promote healthier behaviours such as better diet and weight control and medication adherence,” the report states.

Innovative start-ups such as Keas and HealthPrize have developed programmes combining the use of games, social media and technology to serve the growing ranks of employers seeking to motivate their workers to adopt healthier behaviours.

In another approach to health gamification, Kaiser Permanente’s Garfield Health Care Innovation Centre is researching games to help doctors and other medical personnel improve their skills, and reduce errors.

Charities are also using gamification: Tearfund, the UK-based Christian international aid charity, is looking to drive engagement with young supporters with the launch of a mobile gaming platform.

Tearfund has built a mobile app that incorporates social media channels and gaming strategies, in a bid to encourage more young people to become involved in its work and make volunteering efforts. The Pedestrians’ charity Living Streets has also used gamification as part of an online campaign during its recent ‘Walk to Work Week’.

But the potential for commercial gain is the main driver for gamification, as pharma has the most money to throw behind it.

Are games able to change behaviour?

But the big question is: can games change entrenched human behaviour? There is little available long-term research to answer this question, but it does not seem that shooting cigarette-shaped enemies will make a player change a 30-year smoking habit, for instance.

In terms of marketing - and what Pugh is looking to do with Syrum - it certainly seems to grab people’s attention. But ultimately it is simply a new method of marketing for these firms, and has the added bonus of attracting a large interest from many sectors, given its novelty.

So it is the future? Possibly - but creating a loyal online community takes time and money, and skill in identifying the right audience, and what will inspire them to keep coming back.

For Boehringer, the process has indeed been a complicated one - the game was pencilled in for launch in late 2011, but its launch is now not expected until the end of 2012.

Being a pioneer in a new area will always throw up problems, but the game will need to do more than merely be novel to prove its value.

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Pharma is a leading sector in web effectiveness

Pharma is a leading sector in web effectiveness | Pharma_News |

Pharmaceutical companies, particularly European drugmakers, rank among the world’s best corporate communicators online, according to a new analysis.

The sixth Financial Times Bowen Craggs Index of web effectiveness, which claims to be "the only comprehensive source of comparable data on companies’ corporate digital presence", notes that six of the top 20 rated companies are in the pharma sector. The methodology used in the index gives the highest scores to companies that have websites "that are well built, well integrated with other channels (eg YouTube or social media), present the companies messages most impressively, and serve a range of stakeholders well".

Roche is rated as having the most effective website of all pharmaceutical companies, and comes fifth overall, while Novartis comes second in the industry and eighth overall. AstraZeneca ranks third in the pharma sector and 13th in the index.

Bowen Craggs gives a special mention to Pfizer, which moved up eleven places from its previous ranking overall, and mentions that the US giant has been integrating its country sites better, while boosting its careers section and social media channels. However the report notes that Pfizer still has more developing to do, noting that its site has a separate careers section "which means that the tight centrally controlled system of managing digital content has broken down". Also "Pfizer has several references to 2005, as though they are current".

The analysis notes that "pharmaceutical companies and their reputations are on a constant knife edge and could suffer critical damage at any time because of the nature of their business". Firms have therefore identified online digital communications via websites and social media "as a way of managing potential disasters as well as maintaining and relaying reputation and responsibility".

The report states that with investors, the media, jobseekers and customers increasingly visiting corporate websites, "and with websites increasingly becoming the first destination for anyone wanting to find out about a company, the web effectiveness of a corporation is increasingly crucial to company reputation and performance in the pharmaceutical industry".

David Bowen, senior consultant at Bowen Craggs & Co noted that "a number of US companies have forgotten that their site is used by an international audience", while "Chinese sites remain stuck in a rut. There has been almost no improvement in the past six years".

Latest technologies managed poorly

Writing in the FT, he notes that "many companies have simply latched on to the latest technologies – whether iPad apps or Google+ pages – without considering how they will work with their website, YouTube channels, Twitter feeds and the rest". He believes that "the sudden omnipresence of these technologies is part of the problem. Resources are being spread too thin and the need for speedy implementation is winning over strategy".

Mr Bowen concludes by saying that "behind all these issues lies a lack of senior management engagement, or so it would appear". The companies that have done well "are those where bosses understand how important online communication is, and have diverted – relatively trivial – but appropriate resources towards them coherently", he adds.

BaseCase's comment, May 10, 2012 4:39 AM
Interesting... I always perceived pharma as being slower than other industries to catch on to new technologies (incl.using the internet as a brand tool). But this article provides another perspective about how European companies seem to be doing something right. Thanks for sharing!