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Pharma + social = Pharma 3.0?

When I first heard the term “Pharma 3.0” I thought that it was the latest in the trend to put “x.0” (where x = 2, or higher) after everything. I was delighted to find out that it wasn’t, and there is a (reasonably) well-defined “Pharma 1.0, and 2.0”.

To get to “Pharma 3.0”, we need to detour past Pharma 1.0, and 2.0.

To bring a pharmaceutical drug to market is not something for the faint-hearted. There are strict regulations that need to be complied with. The length of time taken to bring a drug to a point where it can be sold can be up to eight and a half years, or longer. And the cost can add up to more than US$800 million.

As a result, pharmaceutical companies rely on a “blockbuster” drug. Which is one that alleviates, or cures, specific problems, and for which there is a high demand.

This is what defines “Pharma 1.0” - the age of the “Blockbuster”.

However, Pharma companies also realized that there is more than just having a “really great product”. “Pharma 2.0” is a period where there was a recalibration to do business leaner, nimbler and more focused on emerging realities. Effectively, the focus was on redefining the business model.

There are no precise dates when the next “Pharma x.0” period is entered, but “Pharma 3.0” has started to emerge.

Pharma 3.0 can be described loosely as “Pharma + Web 2.0”.

That is, “social media” plays a big role. The advent of social media has brought a voice to the end consumer. With a greater wealth of knowledge at their hands, the patient has become more knowledgeable about their ailments, and more critical of the medicines they are taking. Insurance companies and governments are also now starting to look for real value in the medicines that they are paying for, rather than just relying on the claims of the pharmaceutical company.

As a result, the pharmaceutical company has had to redefine who the “customer is”. No longer is the customer the Medical Doctor. Now more focus is put on delivering real value to the patient.

And this is where social media, and related technologies, are coming into play. Companies are starting to identify ways that they can not only “talk to the customer”, but to also “listen”. Examples include smartphone apps that provide information on the medication that a patient is taking, allowing them to ask questions directly to the pharma company, or to get in touch with others using the medication; apps that give patients easy ways to record treatments and keep track of the symptoms they experience; through to devices that measure the blood glucose levels of a patient, and then transmit them to a mobile device where the data can be stored, and shared with a physician. (InPharm maintain a great list of apps currently available. Click here to see it). Initiatives include, also, more transparency, and information to both the patient and the doctor.

“Pharma 3.0” is about adding value by empowering the patient. And it’s something that the pharma companies are all involved with (in one way, or another). The newer, more dynamic pharma companies that are appearing in places such as Asia, and India, are able to put into place the business partnerships and innovation required to fully take advantage of Pharma 3.0. The tradition Big Pharma companies, however, are burdened with an “entrenched” value network that needs to be changed. This is happening.

It is likely that, in the current year, there will be quite some activity in this area. I’ll be watching with interest.

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Sanofi, Pfizer and NHS iPhone and Android Apps: Mobile Health Innovation | Nitro Digital

Sanofi, Pfizer and NHS iPhone and Android Apps: Mobile Health Innovation | Nitro Digital | Pharma_News |
According a report published by ABI Research in 2011, the mobile health market is currently worth around £77million with 44million health apps downloaded last year. There have been a number of new innovative pharma apps released in the course of 2011.
In partnership with the US National Kidney Foundation, Pfizer, a real social media heavyweight in the industry, launched Manage CVD Risk in Reduced GFR app, designed for healthcare professionals to reduce the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). In 2011, IBGStar by Sanofi has become the first monitoring system for blood glucose that has been cleared by the FDA which directly connects to Apple’s iPod touch and iPhone available in Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Italy. For a quick overview of the app’s features, watch the video below. Also released last year was MyAsthmaLog the NHS’s Android app designed to assist young people and children with asthma self-management by allowing them to construct an individual asthma plan and keep track of appointments and asthma attacks. For more detail, watch the video below.
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Abbott Digital Health Check: Website Review- pharma engagement

Abbott Digital Health Check: Website Review- pharma engagement | Pharma_News |
Welcome to the first edition of our new Digital Health Check series. In this feature, we will be evaluating pharmaceutical brands’ digital marketing performance focusing on various online channels, platforms and campaigns, highlighting best-practice elements as well as a set of recommendations.

I chose Abbott Laboratories as the subject of my first review for two reasons: 1) the company has been demonstrating impressive financial growth in the past year with strong profit margins and 13.4 percent share price increase since last year, and 2) it is one of the biggest drug-maker in developing countries like India where social media is booming right now. With the range of products and therapy areas they are involved in, Abbott has endless amount of online marketing opportunities. However, at present, the brand’s online presence is rather weak compared to digital heavyweights like Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim.

For this review, I’m focusing on Abbott’s website, the hub of the brand’s digital marketing activity. The website will be assessed according to its usability based on ‘accessibility’, ‘branding’, ‘navigation’, and ‘content’.

1) Accessibility – Factors that might keep the visitor from accessing the site.

Accessibility is arguably the most crucial factor when it comes to site usability. You may have the best looking site in the industry but if it is not compatible with your visitors’ browsers or loads slowly, you are at risk of losing a significant amount of traffic.

Abbott’s site performs well in terms of accessibility. There are no flash elements on the site and the ‘text size button’ feature is a particularly nice touch. The site however could benefit from a mobile site. According to Google, mobile health queries represent 18 percent of total search traffic, compared to 10 percent a year ago (Search Engine Watch 2011). With mobile search on the rise, having a well-designed and functional mobile site is a real must!

2) Identity – The clarity of your brand’s identity and offering.

As soon as visitors land on your site, within seconds it should be clear to them what your brand is all about and what products/services you offer to them. This is usually done through a home page feature, or intro text.

On Abbott’s site, while the logo is prominent on all pages, the tagline, which is hidden in the top right-hand corner, needs to be further emphasised. There appears to be two different styles of logos, which indicate a bit of an ‘identity crisis’, not to mention that they both click through to the home page. There is no clear indication on the home page that Abbott is a global healthcare company.

3) Navigation – Having a clear path to the information they are looking for

Organising your website’s structure and content to effectively target different types of users is crucial. Abbott’s website does this particularly well. The home page features a ‘Resources for…’ section, which breaks content down according to types of users i.e.: HCPs, investors, journalists, patients and caregivers, students, and job seekers. This way, when a visitor lands on the home page they can find what they are looking for in a matter of seconds.

The golden rule for achieving top quality website usability is that information must be available in no more than three clicks. Abbott’s website is a prime example of this. Moreover, there is also a good deal of interlinking between pages, which is not only good for SEO but also helps users find relevant information on the site.

My only suggestion would be to emphasise the main navigation bar further. There are quite a few links on the home page so it can be difficult to determine where to go next. You always need to think about the user-journey. When a visitor lands on your homepage, what do you want them to see and where do you want to lead them? What about people who land on pages other than the home page, will they be able to find information quickly?

4) Content – Clear, consistent and well-organised

Generally speaking, Abbott’s website content is clear and well organised. The content is broken up into short paragraphs and there is extensive use of headings throughout the site, which is perfect for allowing the reader to skim through the page.

However, there is some room for improvement. Firstly, the text could be broken down into columns further rather than being stretched across the whole width of the page. Secondly, the news on the home page should include teasers to entice the reader to find out more as it has been done for the ‘Features’ section.

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Digital marketing captures a greater ‘share of mind’ among pharma marketing

Digital marketing captures a greater ‘share of mind’ among pharma marketing | Pharma_News |
Digital communication channels are all the rage in marketing programs at pharma companies, even as the industry watches guardedly for new regulatory actions from FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP; formerly DDMAC). The industry is not standing still in anticipation of future DDMAC activity—but is proceeding with more caution than other consumer-goods marketers.

That’s one of the general conclusions of a new study from Cutting Edge Information (Durham, NC), which published Pharmaceutical Digital Marketing and Social Media: Managing Growth, Mitigating Risk and Mastering Strategy late last year. Cutting Edge typically does syndicated research and publishes aggregated data; in this case, 31 companies were involved.

In 2011, for the first time, digital media has exceeded traditional media in 2011 (Fig. 1), constituting 54.7% of the media “mix.” Cutting Edge is careful to define “mix” not as a measure of where marketing dollars are spent (which, generally, they did not analyze across all media), but in terms of the number of projects or activities that a pharma marketer engages in. It further distinguished “traditional digital” (mostly, developing and operating a website) from social media and mobile communication platforms. Mobile is the far-and-away leader in recent growth, up 288% over 2009 (but coming from a very small base). Social media is showing 99% growth over the three-year period.

In digging into the objectives of mobile communication channels, Cutting Edge found that nearly half (46%) of applications were for physician marketing—including sophisticated mobile apps for analyzing medical conditions that are available through iPhone and other online app stores. Another 17% were for medical affairs, including MSL programs, thought leader management and the like. Only 14% is currently directed to consumers.

Overall, however, “Pharma is in the process of deciding which part of the mobile app fray it wants to join,” says Cutting Edge, which views the situation as choosing between clinician-directed apps, patient-directed ones, or both—with the latter option being the most common. Cutting Edge sees this as a reflection of industry evolution. “If Pharma 1.0 was the blockbuster business model and Pharma 2.0 is the current model of diversified drug portfolios, … then Pharma 3.0 represents a greater emphasis on health outcomes.” Pharma will be competing in the outcomes-oriented apps field with other sectors, including healthcare providers, payers and retailers. “Instead of the DTC model of marketing drugs, apps will reflect the growing importance of offering health solutions.”

Staffing is growing
Pharma companies are building up their in-house capabilities, but it is still very much a work in progress. “In general as newer functions—89% of surveyed companies’ digital marketing groups have been in place for less than three years—they are neither fully staffed nor fully funded. In fact, many groups have only a single dedicated FTE” [full-time equivalent employee], says Cutting Edge.

In looking at actual digital media budgets, the biggest companies have an annual budget in excess of $2 million, while the average for all companies surveyed is $733,000. But there are exceptions—when analyzed at a brand level at product launch, digital marketing activities averaged $1.66 million, and one company spent nearly $10 million on its campaign.

Despite OPDP guardrails on social media activities, “The fact is that pharma is doing social media—and the demonstrable change in such a short amount of time is quite remarkable,” says Cutting Edge. The survey found that 56% of companies are actively monitoring social networks; a like percentage is targeting physicians with social media tools, and 52% are using social media for corporate communications and public relations. The biggest challenge to use of social media, according to survey participants, is the regulation of off-label communications; demonstrating an ROI, and adverse-event monitoring and reporting followed closely behind. Some 57% of respondents note that the lack of effective FDA guidance in social media is affecting their strategy. Most pharma companies (indeed, most large companies of any type) employ outside advertising, marketing or market research organizations to assist in developing and operating their marketing plans; but in the case of new digital media, the pharmacos are struggling to identify their own goals and overall strategy. When they look to outside agencies, the frustration continues; Fig. 2 shows the responses to questions about the quality of services available from outside agencies. Interestingly, apparently no one rated agencies performance as “very good;” and the one category with the best scores, “executing a digital strategy,” rated only 30% as “good”.

Niche players
Cutting Edge says that pharmacos have two options to improve this situation: develop the digital capabilities in-house—with a dedicated digital marketing group; the other is re-evaluate outside-agency capabilities. “Many marketing groups find it convenient to delegate digital marketing responsibilities to the same firm that handles traditional marketing such as print, television and radio,” but these companies either have fumbled their responsibilities, or have simply outsourced the digital function itself to a third party. Cutting Edge says that there is a growing niche of digital marketing agencies specializing in “navigating pharma’s complicated regulatory landscape … with this specific skill set comes a price tag higher than a standard digital agency.” But this avenue might be the preferred direction to get “the peace of mind that the niche agency has a track record of compliance and success.”

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AZ taps electronic patient records for real-world evidence collaboration

AZ taps electronic patient records for real-world evidence collaboration | Pharma_News |
AstraZeneca is to use anonymised real-world data from European electronic patient records to gain a better picture of how its medicines perform once they reach the market.

The pharma company has signed a three-year deal with IMS Health for access to existing anonymised electronic health records - which include clinical outcome, economic and treatment pattern data.

The records will provide "real-world evidence based on observational and retrospective studies throughout Europe," according to AstraZeneca

The company said the information would be used to "inform the delivery of effective and cost-efficient healthcare."

In addition to broadening its understanding of its current product portfolio, AstraZeneca also hopes to use the information to inform its future discovery and clinical development programmes.

Greater understanding of how existing drugs perform in real-world settings could also help it to position new drugs favourably in reimbursement and health technology assessment (HTA) discussions.

AstraZeneca and IMS plan to develop a customised research and analysis tool to interrogate the data, which will be used to identify gaps in existing treatment that could be addressed by new medicines.

The main focus of the collaboration will be on chronic diseases, spanning several therapeutic categories.

AstraZeneca’s president of R&D, Martin Mackay, described the alliance as "a key milestone in our commitment to understand the impact of our medicines in the real world, beyond what we see in controlled trials."

The deal recognises that tightly-controlled protocols in clinical trials cannot take into account variations in doctors' prescribing habits and the way the public actually take medicines.

AstraZeneca said the information gained would paint a picture of unmet needs in the current standard of care and treatment patterns across a number of therapeutic areas, with an emphasis on chronic illnesses.

Pharma companies have understood for some time that there is a benefit from the inclusion of observational, non-international studies in drug development programmes - even if the concept is not universally applied in practice.

The company’s latest collaboration with IMS Health complements this emerging trend.

Jon Resnick, IMS Health's vice president of real-world evidence solutions, said: "This joint initiative reflects a shared perspective on the transformative power of real-world evidence on global health systems."

The IMS Health agreement builds on AstraZeneca’s existing ‘real-world’ data and research partnership with WellPoint’s health outcomes research subsidiary HealthCore in the US.

The February, 2011, deal also had a chronic disease focus and saw AstraZeneca and HealthCore partner on real-world studies to determine the most effective and economical treatments.

Under a four-year deal the firms are conducting studies analysing electronic medical records, claims information and patient surveys.

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Pharma Industry Seen ‘Rising From the Ashes’ From Mid-2012

Pharma Industry Seen ‘Rising From the Ashes’ From Mid-2012 | Pharma_News |
Investment prospects for Europe’s big drug makers look set to improve dramatically from mid-2012, despite the gloomy backdrop facing the sector as the year begins.

In 2012, the $50 billion-plus ‘global wave’ of lost revenues from patent expiries on major blockbuster medicines finally hits the entire pharmaceuticals sector. Tightened government health care budgets and downward pressure on drug prices will also keep hurting.

The sector’s ratings have suffered as a result. Patent losses for the large cap drug makers in Europe will peak this year at an estimated $12 billion, representing around 4% of their overall sales, according to analysts at Credit Suisse.

But drug companies haven’t been idle. Their managements have used the run-up to the so-called ‘patent cliff’ to strengthen balance sheets, diversify their businesses, expand into emerging markets and the more fortunate ones have grown pipelines and are launching products.

Many large drug companies have also reconfigured their research and development operations, targeting efficiency savings, productivity improvements and renewing their focus on specialty areas such as oncology and autoimmune diseases.

That is finally being noticed by sector experts.

Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note to clients last month:

“Despite an inauspicious backdrop in 2012 … we expect investors to gain in confidence in the pharma sector’s ability to return to growth from 2013. The recipe will be a mix of cost savings, growth from non-patent afflicted businesses and new drug sales.”

JPMorgan echoed that sentiment in a note to clients on Thursday:

“By mid 2012, we expect investors to turn their attention to 2013-2015, when we expect the growth outlook to return to high single digits. Hence, once market volatility declines and a focus on fundamentals returns, the relative outperformance of the sector should turn into absolute performance, as the depressed sector multiple of 10x forward P/E, still near historical lows, can expand, on the basis of a much improved mid-term outlook.”

This much brighter outlook for the European pharma sector–which has yet to be reflected in stock valuations–reflects improved late and early stage product pipelines within the sector, a more restrained approach to M&A generally, increased cash generation and the spreading policy of returning value to shareholders through dividend payments and share buybacks.

JPMorgan said European drug makers’ pipelines remain an important source of investor demand for the sector.

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Very interesting conversation about pharma and where it's heading

To find out about more eyeforpharma conversations happening close to you, visit This discussion focusses on recent news, w...
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Pharma companies under report clinical trial results:Report British Medical Journal - The Economic Times

Scientists from the reputed British Medical Journal or BMJ have found that pharma companies under report data from clinical trials to regulatory authorities and journals, and at times also concealing their trial study. BMJ studied, to what extend companies reveal the details of the process of the trials and found that the "registry reports and publications submitted by companies insufficiently report clinical trials but may supplement each other".

Clinical trial studies are a pre requisite before launching and marketing a drug.

The journal undertook a detailed research that focussed on the three areas where clinical trial data are published; they looked at medical publications, clinical study reports and registry reports to evaluate to the reporting standards. The study found that 'publication bias' and 'outcome reporting bias' are a problem and responsible for distorting scientific evidences. The journal said "perception of the effects of healthcare interventions based on published literature is biased towards overestimating benefits and underestimating harms. This problem of distorted public record is widely prevalent".

Pharma companies have to register their clinical trials and also submit the study results with regulators; this information has to be accessible to the public. In 2005 drug companies signed what was known as the Ottawa statement, which made it mandatory for pharma companies to publish not only the initial study data, but also negative impact of the a particular drug.

The need for detailed reporting in clinical trial became evident when British pharma giant Glaxo SmithKline was held guilty by the New York State Supreme Court for withholding information and misrepresenting data of its anti depressant drug Paxil. In India too, there have been serious allegations against drug companies for undertaking clinical trial by misleading patients. The trial for Human Papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine undertaken by US Pharma Company Merk in association with the NGO PATH created a controversy when four tribal girls from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat died while undergoing the trial.

The BMJ scientists say that insufficient public information leads to difficulty for healthcare professionals to arrive at a reliable medical conclusion and provide accurate medical interventions. The report concludes that, "there is a need for mandatory registration of all clinical trials and for a mandatory standard for registry reports containing sufficient details on study methods and results to allow full evaluation of the validity of a clinical trial and its outcomes".


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FDA's Social-Media 'Guidelines' Befuddle Big Pharma

After a two-year wait that included the fanfare of a two-day public hearing, the Food and Drug Administration this week quietly announced new social-media marketing guidelines for pharmaceutical companies.
Well, sort of.

The FDA on Tuesday posted its "Guidance for Industry Responding to Unsolicited Requests for Off-Label Information About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices" in the Federal Register, an under-the-radar move neither announced by press conference or press release. And the guidance seems to fall a bit short of what a legion of pharma-industry and healthcare-agency marketing execs anticipated.

"What everybody was expecting was actual guidelines around social media," said Jim Dayton, senior director of emerging media for Overland Park, Kan.-based InTouch Solutions, a pharma-centric digital-marketing agency. "I still think it's monumental," he added. "The FDA finally addressed the digital channel in a specific way by mentioning Twitter and YouTube in the document, and those have never been mentioned before. But this is an industry that wants specific instructions and rules, and that didn't happen here."

"We understand the level of interest and wanted to get out what we had available to provide guidance," said FDA spokeswoman Karen Mahoney, who added that this was just "the first of multiple planned guidances that respond to testimony and comments from the Part 15 public hearing that FDA held in November 2009."

The 15-page FDA guidance addresses only off-label information, laying out instructions for pharma companies on how to respond to consumers seeking information for a prescription drug other than what it is indicated for. That is, in a very rudimentary example, if a consumer asked a question on Facebook or called a pharma company's 800 number asking whether it was safe for men over the age of 50 to use Botox, a representative for Botox-maker Allergan could certainly answer the question. However, if the consumer asked whether the use of Botox also helped grow hair on balding men, the representative should refer the consumer to the Allergan website on use and safety information.

"Firms may choose to respond to unsolicited requests for information about off-label uses of their approved or cleared products in a manner other than that recommended in this draft guidance. Such activity would not constitute a per se violation of the law, but could potentially be introduced as evidence of a new intended use," the FDA wrote in its guidance.

"FDA recognizes that it can be in the best interest of public health for a firm to respond to unsolicited requests for information about off-label uses of the firm's products that are addressed to a public forum, as other participants in the forum who offer responses may not provide or have access to the most accurate and up-to-date information about the firm's products. … Statements that promote a drug or medical device for uses other than those approved or cleared by FDA may be used as evidence of a new intended use. Introducing a product into commerce for such a new intended use without FDA approval or clearance would, under these requirements, generally violate the law."

But for some, that still leaves things ….."ambiguous," said one pharma company digital director who asked not to be identified. "It leaves a lot open to interpretation."

Big Pharma, which spent $1 billion in online promotion last year and was expected to reach $1.52 billion in spending by 2014, has been somewhat inhibited by the lack of guidance and ambiguity on social-media use.

But that's the best the industry can expect right now, said Peter Pitts, former FDA associate commissioner and now the president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. "What everybody was looking for was never going to happen. If you're waiting for divine guidance, you're still waiting," said Mr. Pitts.

Both Messrs. Pitt and Dayton said pharma should embrace this first leg of social-media guidelines. "On the face of it, you can look at it and say 'This is nothing,'" Mr. Pitts said. "In reality, I doubt there is ever going to be definitive rules for social media-marketing like there are for TV and print. And there's a reason for that. FDA has made it very clear they were not going to make platform-specific guidelines, like how to use Facebook, how to use Twitter, because social media evolves every day. How can you write guidelines for something that shifts in 90 days? Social media is unpredictable. If industry wants to use social media, they have to embrace ambiguity. The key element here is to use your judgment. If you wouldn't say it offline, don't say it online."

Added Mr. Dayton: "However ambiguous some might see this, I do not think this document should stop anybody from using social media for marketing purposes. We should use this document to show us how the FDA is thinking when it comes to social media. This is indicative of future guidelines around social media. It's going to have to be something we interpret, which is typical of a government agency. We're not ever going to be like Nike or Apple and say whatever we want in social media. The rules haven't changed for us -- it's the same rules this industry has for traditional media."

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Rise of Social Media

The industry can no longer argue with the need to be in the social media space. The conventional way of doing business by pushing out pre-designed communication pitches is dead. The relationship between consumers and companies has now been redefined. Most industries, notably the travel and marketing industry, have rapidly come to terms with this new reality. These companies have evolved their business strategies by including social media within the very fabric of the way they function.

Not so with the Pharmaceutical industry. This social media revolution seems to have bypassed a few of them. Used to talking TO people, Pharma needs to learn to talk WITH people. For this, Pharma needs to first start listening to what is being said in the social sphere. It is only after listening well and understanding what the consumer needs that Pharma can use those insights to tweak and improve their services and products. And any pharma company which delays in engaging the consumer digitaly risks being at a competitive disadvantage.

Check this video by SAS software, where a group of industry experts discuss the rise of social media in the pharmaceutical space. This panel features Marc Monseau (former director of Social Media, Corporate communications at Johnson and Johnson), Mark Bard (Founder at Manhattan Research) and Patrick Homer from SAS software.

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ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry 2012

ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry 2012 | Pharma_News |

The ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry 2012 is available to download from the PMCPA website.

The 2012 Code will come into effect on 1 January 2012 with a transitional period between 1 January 2012 and 30 April 2012. During this time no promotional material or activity will be regarded as being in breach of the Code if it fails to comply with its provisions only because of newly introduced requirements.

There are different transitional provisions for Clauses 17.2 and 23.8. Details are given in the supplementary information for those clauses.


download report at site

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Infographic Of The Day: The Insane Choices You Face At The Drugstore | Co.Design

Infographic Of The Day: The Insane Choices You Face At The Drugstore | Co.Design | Pharma_News |

Complete infographic at site, click to see.


Your local drugstore offers a cautionary tale about what happens when innovation runs amok.

Just 10 years ago, getting something for a headache or a cold at the drugstore was a simple enough affair: Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen? No longer: Drugstore aisles are now an eye-melting maze of choices, with products advertising everything from time-release to gel-caps to flavors to different dosages. I half-expect to find tooth-whitening Tylenol, one day soon.

But despite all the decision fatigue this induces, I'll bet this infographic will come as a shock. Created by the OTC drug startup Help Remedies, it lays out all the options for headache pills that you typically find at the pharmacy:

This, of course, is by design: The infographic is, after all, an advertisement for Help Remedies, a company which offers single-use packets at drugstores labeled simply with your symptoms. (I.E.: "I have a headache" or "I have allergies" or "I have a blister") Still, the chart does tell an interesting story about what innovation can do to a market at large.Each of the myriad offerings laid out, whether its gel-caps or something else, was intended to produce a slight edge on a tightly packed, insanely competitive store shelf where virtually identical products can be found just an inch away. As drug makers compete for more and more differentiation, what you get is simply overwhelming. An innovation process that started with the original intention of offering better products leads to an overall product experience that's horrible.

You can spy that trend in all manner of industries: Just think about what buying a computer was like 10 years ago. Or what buying a smartphone is like today. Even if you choose what brand you're interested in, you're faced with myriad choices about options and add-ons. It's exhausting. Apple, of course, was probably one of the first companies to realize that endless options didn't actually make consumers happier: They're product line offers very few options, especially compared to someone like Dell, for example. Help Remedies works on the same idea. You've got to wonder: What other industries could benefit from a radical simplification?

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Could collaboration cure cancer? - Forbes

Could collaboration cure cancer? - Forbes | Pharma_News |

When we think about what might cure cancer, social networking does not naturally spring to mind. Yet the health care space is showing that new ways of collaborating may indeed lead to breakthrough ways to tackle the disease. In an unthinkably short time, social media has evolved from a new-fangled pastime for the digerati into an indispensable habit for hundreds of millions of people all over the world. Consumers have led the way in showing what’s possible from collaborating with social media, and businesses are following close behind.

For instance, patients use social networks to find information about their condition, connect with others for advice and support, and to exchange ideas with other patients and carers. is just one of many such communities, started in 2004. Today the site has over 100,000 members and covers some 500 health conditions. Fast Company magazine named PatientsLikeMe one of the most innovative companies in the world.

Thanks to collaborative tools, physicians are also discussing clinical issues with their colleagues and peers. Sites such as provide access to a community of practicing physicians on an anonymous basis. Doctors can collaborate on difficult cases and exchange views on drugs, clinical issues and devices. Sermo now has 120,000 physician members in the United States spanning 68 medical specialities.

So collaboration may be helping to cure, but the real potential lies in developing new treatments. In the last decade, pharmaceutical companies like GSK, Merck and Pfizer have found the cost of developing new drugs has soared. At the same time, their patents on blockbuster drugs are expiring and opening a flood of lower-priced generics which could cost the industry tens of billions in revenues over the next few years. Meanwhile pharma companies are finding themselves stretched internationally to reach consumers in emerging markets.

As a result, pharma companies are increasingly trying to partner with smaller, nimbler research organisations around the world to develop the next generation of medical breakthroughs. This is where social networking-like tools enter the story.

As early as 2001, pharma company Eli Lilly invested in a site called Innocentive to allow researchers to post scientific challenges which community members could contribute to solving for a fee. For instance, one researcher came up with a way to develop a cost-effective way to manufacture a drug to treat tuberculosis. Starting from that early vision of scientific collaboration, Eli Lilly today has established more than a hundred partnerships to look for therapies in a wide range of areas, including diabetes, arthritis and cancer. With this approach, collaboration tools linking and enabling scientists all over the world could play a critical role in the discovery of new drugs.

Could collaboration help accelerate the finding the “cure” for cancer? We don’t know for sure, but it certainly seems that social media will play a crucial role in shaping the future of health care as we know it.

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What the Roche Bid for Illumina Tells Us About the Future of Genomics - Forbes

What the Roche Bid for Illumina Tells Us About the Future of Genomics - Forbes | Pharma_News |

There’s been a flurry of mergers in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries lately. My Manhattan Institute colleague Paul Howard has some thoughts on one of the more interesting potential transactions: the hostile bid for Illumina, a genetic diagnostics company, by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche. Roche already has a diagnostics division, so they don’t need the acquisition to help drive any of their targeted medicines. After all, once you know the “target” for a personalized cancer drug (like Herceptin) and get it on the FDA-approved label you don’t need to know anything else about your patient’s genome.

So why the Illumina bid? (Besides the fact that the stock is way off its high.) This Bloomberg Businessweek article gives a lot of good background on the bid, and asks a lot of good questions.

Analysts also point out that the market for the expensive gene-sequencing machines – primarily academic scientists with government grants – is a shrinking market right now, so Roche’s bid has got to be about the future market for genomic technologies more than the present one.

What is the next market for super-fast, cheap gene sequencing? It’s hospitals, doctors offices – heck, maybe even the CVS drug store down the street. That’s the future of genome sequencing: fast enough and cheap enough to become a consumer commodity.

(I think that Roche is betting that if you’re willing to pay $500 or $600 today for a tablet to play Angry Birds, you’d pay the same – or more – out of pocket to know your or your children’s genetic future. For instance, what diseases to watch out for, what drugs or vitamins to take – or avoid – etc.)

The problem I see is that we don’t have a health care system, or a regulatory system, that is prepared to interpret the flood of genomic information from Illumina’s superfast machines and then turn it into actual clinical knowledge. The FDA has already signaled that it’s very leery about consumer genomic services, and without that approval the technology isn’t going anywhere. (And even then, it still has to be translated into plain English for physicians and patients.)

Roche, I think, has the complete play here. They’re intimately familiar with the regulatory hurdles at the FDA, and know how the agency thinks and what kind of data they will be looking for in terms of regulatory approval for genomic applications. They’ve got marketing channels into physician and hospital offices, and the science research base to help translate emerging genomic discoveries into clinical information and – better yet – personalized treatments coming out of Roche’s labs.

If personalized medicine is going to expand beyond specialized cancer treatments, companies like Roche will lead the way since they have all the tools to translate the genome into mainstream medicine.

The question is, how long will it take (5, 10, 15 years?) for the transformation to become complete, and how much (or how little) regulators will slow the revolution down – in the name of protecting consumers from themselves.

Hopefully, innovative companies will be allowed to lead the way, with the FDA just validating the underlying methodologies.

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Pfizer Dominates Pharma Social Media Space | Nitro Digital

Pfizer Dominates Pharma Social Media Space | Nitro Digital | Pharma_News |

Paris-based Cegedim Strategic Data (CSD) ranked major pharma brands based on their volume of Facebook and Twitter followings compared with their overall promotional spending. Findings show that, on both Facebook and Twitter, Pfizer is pulling ahead of its peers thus matching its industry-leading promotional budget with its social media popularity. Pfizer has the most Twitter followers and takes 3rd place in having the most number of Facebook likes. However, the study also showed that in many cases pharma brands’ social media presence outperformed their promotional spending. Roche for instance ranked fifteenth in overall spending for promotions while it came second only to Pfizer in Twitter followers. This may effectively show that succeeding in the world of social media is often determined by the strategy you adopt, which allows you maximise its impact of your online campaigns.

Another point to bear in mind is that it is not just about volumes. Social media performance also has to be judged based on the quality of engagement. You can have thousands of followers but if you fail to effectively influence and educate them about your brand, than what is the point?

Clearly, pharma companies are increasingly establishing their social media presence. What may cause marketers to wonder however is what role social media should play in their promotional efforts and what impact this will have on the bottom line?

Do you want to effectively engage with patients, HCPs and journalists? Nitro Digital are experts in digital pharmaceutical marketing. To build a successful engagement strategy, get in touch by calling 0844 450 5545 or email

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Pharma 2012: Hard Times Before the Harvest - Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharma 2012: Hard Times Before the Harvest - Pharmaceutical Executive | Pharma_News |
2012 is a transition year for pharma, one of the most important in the industry's history of product cycles that spin from plenty to penury. On the positive side, the fires of drug discovery are finally being stoked by a growing understanding of how genomics shape the biology of disease. This is leading to promising new treatments that target critical areas of unmet medical need while also increasing the efficacy of interventions geared to the individual patient. Evidence that these next-generation innovations can advance the science while improving outcomes will hopefully lead to ready acceptance in the market, despite the growing leverage of a much more skeptical and discerning customer base. The challenge is that many new treatments may not complete the move from 'bench to bedside' in time to plug the yawning revenue gap from a second record year of patent expiries. This year's drop off the patent cliff is the longest and steepest, with a $50 billion loss coming on top of the $30 billion ceded to generics in 2011. Most companies will struggle to play catchup, with margins under intense pressure due to the immediate fallout from genericization of the product base; in the U.S. alone, off-patent penetration has reached 80 percent of all scrip, and IMS forecasts this figure will rise to 86 percent by 2015.

Meanwhile, the fiscal crisis in Europe has voided the entire concept of patenting as a reward for innovation in providing a temporary period of price exclusivity. Therapeutic reference pricing is clustering brands with the cheapest generics, and some countries in the region are now moving toward a straight bulk procurement model for drugs reimbursed through state-sponsored systems. Quality? Innovation? These are yesterday's questions.

Trade Winds Go Generic The erosion of patent cover means that 2012 will be a golden harvest for the generics industry. While it is premature to condemn all new medicines to the slashing scythe of the grim reaper, innovators, at least for the near term, must adjust to a world where only slightly more than one out of every 10 U.S. prescriptions will be written for products with the potential to obtain a real price premium against the competition. Who will pay for innovation is a question deferred—but it will loom large as the cycle shifts back toward large biologics and the discovery payoff from the genomics revolution begins to empower the patient seeking a cure or a better quality of life.

So what is the preferred Big Pharma strategy to manage through this year of transition? Pharm Exec contacts with a range of industry players reveals that the dominant theme for 2012 is a relentless focus on managing costs. Pressures to cut back are mounting, not just in the expected areas such as R&D or field force management, but also through the rich incentives that companies are laying out to breach the access barriers and contract pricing ultimatums imposed by payers exercising their market clout. These payer tactics now incorporate the specialty segment, oncology, and other high-margin categories, which have, to date, been largely immune to pricing constraints.

Trim the Sails on Costs

As far as the investor community is concerned, one number counts. "Wall Street will be looking for evidence that companies know how to manage their expenses, and the best gauge of progress here is the difference between gross and net sales," says Amundsen Group managing director Mason Tenaglia. That view is echoed by St. Joseph's University Business School Professor Bill Trombetta, author of Pharm Exec's annual industry audit series, whose latest report in our September 2011 issue makes "lean management" a key theme. "2012 is all about the edge that will go to companies that achieve operational excellence against their peers. The logic is that the best way to cope with the uncertainties of a complicated business climate is by mastery of the internal environment, where management can exercise a stronger degree of control."

Slashing costs is necessary to minimize the immediate impact of the patent cliff on revenues. It also represents a welcome change in mindset, away from the complacency and tolerance for bloat that characterized the industry response to market churn in the previous decades. And as the pharma workforce is trimmed—a bloodletting long deferred—it provides fresh opportunity to revise the skill set required to prevail against the competition. Financial planning, manufacturing, competitive intelligence (the new costume for traditional market research), and IT have all been elevated to status as strategic functions rather than an operational activity.


Read more at site....

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Jay Bradner: Open-source cancer research | Video on

The cloud of social networking and the cure for cancer are two terms rarely mentioned in the same sentence. However there is more and more evidence that new techniques involving collaboration are leading breakthroughs in handling cancer. In an amount of time that is incredibly short, the evolution of cloud networking has blossomed into a lifestyle habit that most people cannot do without. As a result, businesses have joined the bandwagon and followed suit.

These days, discussions involving clinical issues, devices and oncology drugs have become faster, easier and more global due to the cloud. When it comes to a cure for cancer, there is undeniable potential in the development of new treatments.

In the last ten years, pharma brands like Pfizer, Merck and GSK have found soaring costs for new drug-development. Because of this along with other factors, pharmaceutical companies are making more attempts to become partners with worldwide organizations of research that are more nimble and smaller to develop medical breakthroughs for the new generation.

One example is when Eli Lilly partnered with Innocentive allowing researchers to post challenges of science that members of the community can pay for to be able to contribute in the search for a solution.

One participant came up with an affordable method of manufacturing a TB drug. From that collaboration, over 100 partnerships have thus been established to look for solutions in areas that include cancer, arthritis and diabetes, among others.

Another prime example of how oncology can benefit from cloud collaboration is demonstrated by this inspiring TED Talk below on open-source future of medical research. The talk tells the story of how in Jay Bradner’s lab, they found a molecule that might hold the answer, and instead of patenting, they published their findings and mailed samples to 40 other labs to work on. Will this collaborative effort bring the world closer to a cure for cancer? It seems almost guaranteed that finding the cure will be due in no small part to social media

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Open access social media guide for pharma

Open access social media guide for pharma | Pharma_News |
A set of guidelines about pharma companies using social media properly and legally is very much needed. We create it collaboratively for free.


We launched this project because we believe a set of guidelines is very much needed either for medical professionals and patients, and pharma about using social media properly and legally. This open access guide created collaboratively by the most important online voices of pharma and web 2.0 was meant to help facilitate this process. Please let us know if you would like to contribute to that!


Click on title to view complete guidelines

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Practical step in SEO for Pharma

Practical step in SEO for Pharma | Pharma_News |
In the third of our series discussing the practical steps pharma companies can take to establish themselves in a digital environment, we look at search engine optimisation (SEO) - one of the most important factors in getting people to our websites.It's an area that often gets forgotten about by pharma, despite figures that show 150 million people in Europe actively search online for healthcare information every week, while Google says healthcare related topics are its second biggest search terms.

So do you really want to drive awareness of your brand/disease area/product?

If ‘yes’ then read on….

What is SEO?
To help your organic search results you need to concentrate on two things: on-site SEO, which is internal coding on your website (both mobile and PC based), and off-site SEO, which includes sites that link through to your website. This off-site SEO can be press releases, related links and social media websites.

On average 96 per cent of users do not go past page one of search results, and searches at the top of the page are regarded as legitimate information.

So the right SEO can really help you get thousands of visitors to your website, while not thinking about SEO can have you buried on page 10 of the search results, where no one goes.

How do these search engines find my website?
Search engines use software called spiders; they trawl the internet for words related to what you type in search engines and then they index these pages. To find more websites, the spiders visit links on that site that are related to the appropriate content and then index them. Typical things these spiders look for are keywords appearing in the page's content, title or images. Google says it uses over 200 various methods to relate your site to the keywords searched for.

When you’re planning SEO, think...Research – Have a think about what search terms or words you want your website to appear under in search engine results. Try typing a few terms in yourself to see what comes back and bear in mind you’re looking for no more than 15 words for your title tags.Get suggestions - Google has an amazing free tool that helps you research keywords (Google keyword calculator) it allows you to see how many people search that word and makes suggestions on words people may also search for.Get meta - Implement your strategy by making sure your selected keywords are present as meta tags on your page. However, be patient – you won’t see results straight away and it can take months for the impact of your SEO to kick in with the search engines. Changing keywords too often means you’ll never know what works.Create a content plan - Google loves content so make sure you upload new content regularly.

Quick tips

Let the search engine know you exist. Submit your website to search engines via the following:
- website will have various sections/categories which can be given titles in your coding. The IT team who build and maintain the website call this meta descriptions, data or tags. Think of these as what users will type into search engines to find you. For example think of your disease area or brand.Search engines also look at what images appear on your site so make sure these are named in a relevant way. These are called ‘alt tags’. You can see this on most sites when you hover your mouse over an image. File names of images can also be picked up by search engines, so make sure images are named correctly like stamp_out_gout.jpg instead of dc00001.jpg.A site map is simply the structure of your website, and is usually a simple page on your website that lists every page you have. You can submit your site map to the search engines listed previously, which allows them to index all the pages on your site.Off-site SEO is links from other sites. This can helped by simply making sure that you add a link to your site from any social media pages, blogs and corporate sites, and always include a link in any press releases you send out. Make sure you register your brand on any social media sites too. For example

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Missing trial data ‘threatens integrity of medicine’ | InPharm

A series of papers published today by the British Medical Journal show that a large proportion of evidence from human medicines trials is unreported, despite rules making reporting ‘mandatory’.

The BMJ warns that missing data is a serious problem in clinical research and distorts the scientific record, so that clinical decisions cannot be based on the best evidence.

Controversy around data disclosure has been a major issue more than a decade, and the pharma industry has now signed up to full disclosure of trial data.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr Richard Lehman from the University of Oxford and BMJ clinical epidemiology editor Dr Elizabeth Loder, describe a “culture of haphazard publication and incomplete data disclosure”.

They call for more robust regulation and full access to raw trial data to allow better understanding of the benefits and harms of many kinds of treatment.

One study found that including unpublished data in published meta-analyses of drug trials often changed their results.

Two further studies show poor adherence to requirements for mandatory trial registration and timely sharing of results.

The US Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 made publication of a results summary on within 12 months mandatory for all eligible trials in the US “initiated or ongoing as of September 2007.”

But a new study by Ross and colleagues show that fewer than half of US National Institutes of Health funded trials are published in a peer reviewed journal within 30 months of completion. Meanwhile Andrew Prayle and colleagues found that only 22% of trials subject to mandatory reporting had results available within one year of completion.

“When the word ‘mandatory’ turns out to mandate so little, the need for stronger mechanisms of enforcement becomes very clear,” write Lehman and Loder.

The paper’s authors argue that access to full trial data is needed to allow drugs to be independently assessed.

Two further studies also showed poor adherence to requirements for mandatory trial registration and timely sharing of results.

Other studies published today highlight the many difficulties researchers face when they try to assess the true harms and benefits of common interventions.

Lehman and Loder believe that concealment of data is ‘a serious ethical breach’ and that clinical researchers who fail to disclose data “should be subject to disciplinary action by professional organisations”.

“And this is no academic matter,” the authors added, “because missing data about harm in trials can harm patients, and incomplete data about benefit can lead to futile costs to health systems”.

They conclude: “These changes have long been called for, and delay has already caused harm. The evidence we publish shows that the current situation is a disservice to research participants, patients, health systems, and the whole endeavour of clinical medicine.”

In October, the Cochrane Collaboration, which publishes data reviews and meta-analyses, called for more transparency from pharma.

It argued that the industry only publishes positive data for its drugs and leaves out negative results for fear of damaging a drug’s potential.
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Patient perspectives: Meredith Gould

Dr Meredith Gould represents a rare type of epatient who has experience both of managing her disease and in working with pharma to produce communication materials around new treatments. In an industry that is by definition “clinical” and data oriented, her background in sociology also brings a very different and human slant to understanding how the communication pathways between patients, healthcare providers and pharma need to adapt to let the relationship evolve.

During this latest patient perspective interview, we talk about what makes someone become a vocal champion for others with similar diagnoses, the key challenges newly diagnosed individuals face and how medical information needs to be communicated to help different people understand it. However, we also explore communication pathways back from the patient to the pharma industry and exactly where patients should be playing a role in shaping the medicines of the future.

To listen to the full interview, please click on the play button below, with a shortened transcript of some edited highlights shown in print below.

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Medical Communication Strategies: Ranking Pharma According To Social Media Presence

Medical Communication Strategies: Ranking Pharma According To Social Media Presence | Pharma_News |

The amount of time and money Pharma is now spending on digital marketing is slowly increasing. A report from market researchers at Cegedim Strategic Data comparing the ranking of pharmaceutical companies' spend on traditional promotional channels to their presence on Facebook and Twitter, puts Pfizer at the top for both.

The analysis of social network presence focused on the top 100 pharma companies in terms of traditional sales force and marketing channel spending. CSD then identified the top 30 drugmakers for Facebook and for Twitter "based on their presence and healthcare-focused activities" in November 2011. Below are some of the important points to emerge from their data:


1) The US multinational Pfizer ranks first worldwide in traditional promotional spending, and is also present in the top spots for social media presence: third position for the number of Likes on Facebook, and first for the number of followers on Twitter.

2) US multinational Johnson & Johnson (11th, promotional spend) is in second position for the number of Likes on Facebook.

3) Swiss company Roche (15th, promotional spend) is in second position for the number of followers on Twitter

4) Novartis, the Swiss multinational that ranks second in traditional promotional spending, is somewhat behind Pfizer, in seventeenth position for Likes on Facebook, and fifth position on Twitter for the number of followers.

5) Merck & Co is in third position worldwide for traditional promotional spending, and seems to show contrasting positions for social media activity. The company ranks tenth on the number of Likes on Facebook, while at the same time ranks number one for the number of pages. On Twitter Merck & Co ranks fifteenth for the number of followers and third for the number of Tweets.

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Using mHealth to Improve Quality of Life

recently attended the Foundation of NIH’s mHealth Summit. mHealth, the use of mobile devices to manage healthcare can include remote vital sign monitoring, use of devices to send reminders to take medication or check your blood sugar, and even using a smart phone to perform an ECG (as a key note speaker showed us live onstage).
Raj Shah, chairman and CEO of CTIS Inc., was a keynote speaker on the second day.

Mr. Shah’s key note was about his goal of supporting patients through the use of mobile platforms. He talked about the value proposition of mobile health, specifically in chronic disease patients. According to Mr. Shah, mobile platforms can enable four key areas to improve care and enable patients:

• Clinical care – receiving accurate, timely information for best decisions and outcomes e.g. remote monitoring of vital signs
• Collaborative – target care and reduce errors e.g., timely communication between caregivers, patients, between physicians and specialists
• Convenience – in managing day to day wellness e.g., listing of diabetes friendly restaurants and
• Comfort – knowing care management is accessible from everywhere

What hit home for me was that Mr. Shah wasn’t only speaking from the viewpoint of CEO of a health technology company, but as a patient living with multiple diseases. He understands the point of view of the patient and seeks to improve quality of life through first-hand knowledge. The voice of the customer is key. We should never lose sight of the whole patient which is beyond the medication or blood sugar measure. As Mr. Shah stated in his conclusion “it’s about living life.”

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Mobile health is key for patient support and management:

I recently attended the Foundation of NIH’s mHealth Summit. mHealth, the use of mobile devices to manage healthcare can include remote vital sign monitoring, use of devices to send reminders to take medication or check your blood sugar, and even using a smart phone to perform an ECG (as a key note speaker showed us live onstage).
Raj Shah, chairman and CEO of CTIS Inc., was a keynote speaker on the second day.

Mr. Shah’s key note was about his goal of supporting patients through the use of mobile platforms. He talked about the value proposition of mobile health, specifically in chronic disease patients. According to Mr. Shah, mobile platforms can enable four key areas to improve care and enable patients:

• Clinical care – receiving accurate, timely information for best decisions and outcomes e.g. remote monitoring of vital signs
• Collaborative – target care and reduce errors e.g., timely communication between caregivers, patients, between physicians and specialists
• Convenience – in managing day to day wellness e.g., listing of diabetes friendly restaurants and
• Comfort – knowing care management is accessible from everywhere

What hit home for me was that Mr. Shah wasn’t only speaking from the viewpoint of CEO of a health technology company, but as a patient living with multiple diseases. He understands the point of view of the patient and seeks to improve quality of life through first-hand knowledge. The voice of the customer is key. We should never lose sight of the whole patient which is beyond the medication or blood sugar measure. As Mr. Shah stated in his conclusion “it’s about living life.”

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A Crash Course on the Digital Health Scene

A Crash Course on the Digital Health Scene | Pharma_News |
Here are some of our favourite articles, talks and resources about the digital health scene. Let us know if we’re missing some key insight!


Can text messages be used to improve health outcomes?



The Growing Hipness of Mobile Wellness



Why the Next Big Thing Will Come From Small Innovations



Lessons HealthTech Startups Can Take From ZocDoc



Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2012



Will Disruptive Innovations Cure Health Care?



Why Google Health Really Failed—It’s About The Money



8 Startups That Are Shaking Up The Health Care Industry



Why startups fail infographic



Bulletins from the future (disruption in newspaper industry -> applicable to healthcare?)



Music Marketing 2.0 – Interview with Ulf Ekberg of Ace of Base (disruption in music industry -> applicable to healthcare?)



Venture capitalists, trying to curb health-care costs



5 most disruptive health IT innovations





New CHMI Report Highlights 5 Market-Based Health Models to Watch



Cash is king: 8 tips for optimizing your startup financing strategy



10 TEDMED 2011 Takeaways from Luminary Labs



How to Be an Entrepreneur: 10 Startup Launch Lessons



5 Storytelling Concepts That Health Care Firms Are Using To Change Patient Behavior



This is the best time to be a health and wellness entrepreneur



Investor: Health tech is next big opportunity



Tech for aging boomers takes off



PWC: Top health industry issues of 2011



Daniel Kraft @ TEDxMaastricht: What’s next in healthcare?  (Youtube)


Fostering innovation in healthcare



How innovation could transform healthcare



Former Apple CEO John Sculley On The Future Of Medical Technology And Health Care’s Killer App



Five Reasons Companies Fail at Business Model Innovation

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