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Novartis pushes ‘virtual’ clinical trial concept

Novartis pushes ‘virtual’ clinical trial concept | Digital Pharma news |

Running clinical trials is an expensive business and Novartis has signed a new deal with US tech company Science 37 to try to take some of the costs out of the process.

The aim is to expand the number of ‘virtual’ trials it runs, with patients interacting with investigators via mobile phones and telemedicine devices rather than attending investigation sites in person. It’s not a new concept - Novartis already has virtual trials ongoing - but the deal with Science 37 for ten trials over the next three years signals greater acceptance of the approach.

It’s a gradual process, and Novartis says the studies will “blend virtual and traditional models, with increasing degrees of decentralisation towards a mostly ‘site-less’ model”. This could allow trials to dramatically increase the pool of patients they can draw upon as they can now participate at their home or via their own doctor’s office.

Under former R&D chief and now CEO Vas Narasimhan, Novartis has long been a devotee of using technology to help the clinical trials process, medical education and healthcare delivery become more efficient.

In 2015 for example the company formed a wide-ranging alliance with tech giant Qualcomm to move towards greater use of digital devices in clinical trials, and it has also been active in making venture capital available to players in this sector - in fact it took a 10% stake in Science 37 after participating in the firm’s third-round financing last year.

Novartis says the new decentralised trials are expected to begin later this year in the US in the areas of dermatology, neuroscience and oncology. It’s already running semi-virtual trials for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), acne and cluster headache.

Via Dominique Godefroy
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Sanofi, première locomotive de la Cité numérique bordelaise

Sanofi, première locomotive de la Cité numérique bordelaise | Digital Pharma news |
Sanofi sera la première "tête de gondole" de la future Cité numérique, qu
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Which pharma companies are winning at social? Survey says...

Which pharma companies are winning at social? Survey says... | Digital Pharma news |

While not without risk and regulatory concern, pharma companies have increasingly embraced social media in recent years.

As Tamara Littleton, CEO of social media agency The Social Element, put it, “The industry has realised that even if it ignores social media, its customers won't.”

Of course, being present in social channels doesn't mean that a company is using them to good effect. So which pharma companies are winning social?

Recently, healthcare marketing agency Owen Health released its first-ever Pharma Social Media Ranking, which looked specifically at how the 22 largest pharma companies are using Twitter. To develop its ranking, the agency evaluated a number of data points related to their Twitter accounts, including authority, reach, activity, engagement and influence, during the month of October 2017.

In the end, it declared that GlaxoSmithKline (GsK) and Bayer tied for the overall top spot, followed by AstraZenica and Roche followed by Novartis.

Interestingly, GsK was the first pharma company among those considered to join Twitter. While Owen Health notes that most pharma companies set up a Twitter account around 8.5 years ago, GsK was a pioneer, having joined the then-nascent social platform more than a decade ago.

So what sets high-rankers like GsK and Bayer apart from lower rankers?

It's not all about audience size. Top-ranked GsK and Bayer had the fifth and sixth most followers, respectively. As Owen Health noted, “Although more followers provides the opportunity for greater organic reach, it appears to become harder to keep this larger community engaged with valuable timely content.”

But it's not all about engagement either. In fact, neither GsK nor Bayer ranked in the top 10 for engagement. Interestingly, the companies that got the highest marks for engagement – MSD, Takeda and Teva – ranked 19, 20 and 22 overall. That might have been due to the fact that Takeda and MSD were responsible for two of the three tweets with the most likes, retweets and comments during Owen Health's evaluation period. 

where GsK and Bayer shine is in the influence category, which was based on Klout scores. There, they tied with Pfizer for the top spot.

The importance of strategy

Of course, any ranking is subject to debate. The Klout scores Owen Health used, for instance, have been the subject of controversy. But the notion that winning at social media is not all about getting lots of followers, posting a lot of content, or even generating significant engagement, isn't an illogical one. 

At the end of the day, pharma companies need to connect and engage the right people. And that is a very different and more strategic exercise than trying to build a large following and pumping out lots of content that might or might not be relevant to key segments.

Perhaps reflecting the fact that pharma companies get this, Owen Health notes that it has observed them becoming part of relevant communities as opposed to trying to acquire as many followers as possible. “This approach is more strategic, plays to the social platforms strengths and has the potential to be more beneficial to corporate reputation and brand positioning in the long term.”

As pharma companies grow their social investments, expect to see the gap widen between those that embrace smart, targeted strategies and those that don't.

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Why Roche's $1.9 Billion Deal to Buy Flatiron Health Matters #hcsmeufr #esante #digitalhealth

Why Roche's $1.9 Billion Deal to Buy Flatiron Health Matters #hcsmeufr #esante #digitalhealth | Digital Pharma news |
Swiss drug giant Roche is set to buy cancer data specialist Flatiron Health for $1.9 billion. Here's why that matter for drug development.

Via Lionel Reichardt / le Pharmageek
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Pharma wades into the world of virtual reality marketing

Pharma wades into the world of virtual reality marketing | Digital Pharma news |

The scene opens with ambulance alarms sounding. Emily, a bicyclist struck by a car, lies on the pavement as a team of EMT workers maneuver her onto a backboard.

Viewers watch it all through the eyes of one of those workers, Han, a migraine sufferer. His vision slowly gets blurrier and the whooping of the sirens turns to a dull ringing noise. The scene fades away as a voiceover intones, "Two in three sufferers downplay the severity of their migraine while at work," guiding viewers to the website for GlaxoSmithKline plc's Excedrin (aspirin/paracetamol/caffeine).

It's one of the latest examples of pharma companies investing in virtual reality (VR) to market their products. Though several years old, the technology is still considered a novel way to educate consumers about a disease or convince physicians to prescribe a certain treatment.

It's early days, with drugmakers still figuring out where VR fits into their larger sales strategies. Digital marketing specialists note the technology is more successful at telling particular stories, depending on factors like therapeutic area.

Defining return on investment can also be tricky given that often the aim of VR campaigns is to elicit empathy — a metric more difficult to measure than revenue or prescription volume. There's also the question of whether VR will be a lasting tool for pharma marketers, or fall to the wayside as newer innovations steal its shine.

At least for now, it looks as though VR has taken root across some of the biggest names in drugmaking. Pfizer Inc. and Novartis AG are deploying the technology in the lab; Amgen Inc. offers a virtual tour of its manufacturing facilities on its website; and Merck KGaA has experimented with its branding applications. Kalorama Information, a research firm focused on healthcare, estimates the virtual reality market for healthcare in the U.S. grew from $525 million in 2012 to nearly $1 billion by spring 2017.

Via Dominique Godefroy
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Pharma Social Media Ranking - Global Twitter Edition 2018 -

This 2018 pharma social media ranking from healthcare agency Owen Health provides a snapshot of the performance of 22 of the largest pharma companies on Twitte…

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Digital Marketing in Pharma Industry: A Complete Guide

Digital Marketing in Pharma Industry: A Complete Guide | Digital Pharma news |

Prior to booking an appointment:


77% of patients used search83% used hospital websites54% used health insurance company sites50% used health information sites26% used consumer-generated reviews

( Source: Google’s Report on The Digital Journey to Wellness: Hospital Selection )

Digital Marketing should now be part of your overall marketing strategy, no matter which industry you are in. As you might have guessed from above, it is true for Pharma Industry as well. Digital marketing in pharma industry has already picked up and starting to transform the Pharma and Healthcare industry in the ways it has already transformed retail, media, banking, airline, telecom and education industries.

Digital Patient Journey

Pharma companies and its executives have realized the potential and the disruption it can bring-in the pharma sector and have already started making use of and experimenting with the wide range of armaments available in Digital Marketing.

Trends that make Digital Marketing Imperative for Pharma Companies

Today’s generation turns to internet and social media for almost everything in their lives, health topics would be no surprise. However, there are certain trends which are acting as driving force to make Digital Marketing for Pharma companies a must-have.

Let’s look at such key trends:


Patients are becoming more aware, more engaged and have more expectations

Historically, the patients have had a much passive role when it comes to their own health treatments. They would simply go and meet the doctor and rely on the medicines prescribed by her and start the treatment. This is because they have very little to no information about the treatment options, drugs on the market and the experience of other patients.

With digitization, before meeting a doctor, the patient researches everything about the disease – its symptoms, diagnosis, possible cures etc and has already interacted with other patients. Patients are also more and more aware of their rights and have high expectations from the service providers and the product companies alike.


More information is available about product performance and even the process

Traditionally, pharma companies controlled all the information regarding their products – and they would also control release of this information. They usually used to release this information on need basis (e.g. required by regulators).

The digitization has weakened the control that pharma companies had on information. There is abundance of information available online – people search online for solutions to all of their daily problems. Health problems are no exceptions. Patients share their experiences with drugs, doctors and companies online, which are available for other patients to see. Therefore, in this digital age, patients are increasingly less dependant on their doctors for advices. Instead they rely on plethora of information available online, on mobile apps and they use monitoring devices (e.g. fitbit) and monitoring apps too.

“Two-thirds of people believe they could be making more decisions about personal health and wellness on their own.”

– A survey conducted by Ipsos in collaboration with the National Council on Patient Information and Education and Pfizer, 2015,

Role of Digital Age in Pharma and Healthcare Sector

This number would only have gone up since 2015. Patients are increasingly turning to internet and social media not for supplemental information to add to what they got from doctors and pharma companies but as first source of information.


Process efficiency is improving exponentially

Process efficiency is going up across industries with data analytics and automation of complex decisions, in turn improving agility, responsiveness, accuracy and quality of business processes. Pharma industry is no exception, they would also need to apply next-generation technologies to stay in the game.


Tailored personalized care

With increased expectations from the whole eco-system, users not only want but rightfully expect personalized care. They are able to get personalized solutions – be it grocery shopping, electronics shopping, spa – salons, banking services, online trading services, telecom services, airline companies and a lot more.

Users expect the same from pharma companies as well. “Patient First” has become the war cry for pharma and healthcare companies, in line with Customer First for other traditional sectors.

Pharma companies can provide personalized care through the right usage of digital services, sensors, tech-enabled devices and through processing the data collected by these. This makes a really strong case for digital marketing in pharma industry.




Multi-channel engagement between patients and doctors

The patients are already starting to use online portals to access their medical records and to interact with their doctors. Patients are starting to use apps to fill forms online and engage with other patients in the online communities.

All of this opens up a whole new set of mediums for pharma and healthcare companies to interact with patients and other users. Using these mediums, the pharma and healthcare companies, through their sales representatives, patient-services teams and other teams, can monitor and influence patients, doctors and other healthcare professionals online through apps, social media, mobile phone messages/notifications and even in person.

Going forward, 24/7 anytime anywhere virtual healthcare is going to become a norm. Leading indicators of such norms can be seen by the developments in the early adopters of technologies.

The US Department of Defense is testing robots to engage and screen soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) –

“The military is building brain chips to treat PTSD,” Defense One, May 28, 2014,

United kingdom has ambitious plans to halve the number of outpatient appointments with use of skype consultations. Follow-up advice and prescription would be sent by email.

We believe that these futuristic steps may face some teething problems, but these are definitely the way of times to come.

Image: Digital Marketing in Pharma and Healthcare Sector


Don’t just provide drugs, provide full service and better sales practices

A pharma or a healthcare company, like any other profit making business, would want their customers to come back to them whenever they need these services. The companies have to go the extra mile and provide full service support – before (decision making process), during and after sale of product/ service. The idea is to engage the customer during the full process and keep her engaged afterwards, like a personalized healthcare solution provider. Digital marketing is poised to play key role in this arena for the pharma and healthcare sector.


Timely and accurate feedback for R&D

Use of digital technologies provides real-time feedback from the whole value-chain including the end-consumer to pharma and healthcare companies. It cannot be stressed enough, how important is that to their research & development centers. In effect, what I am saying is, digital marketing is going to help pharma companies in their R&D, and in turn will lead to better products and solutions for all of us. Also, it is likely to make the R&D expenditure for the pharma companies much more efficient.

And the seamless information flow will help the supply chain management better as well (remember the beer game?). The pharma companies can better predict demand and supply, security of their drugs and vendor/partner performance.


Better management of Risk and Compliance functions: Monitor risks and better allocation of resources to manage the same in real-time

The real time feedback from the whole supply chain and end-users, provides the pharma and healthcare companies the capabilities to monitor risks in real time. This in turn enables them to respond in real time by optimizing resource allocation to different activities.


Tech-enabled Competitors are Marching in

There was a time when information and insights into clinical pathways and patient’s histories were available only in the traditional healthcare establishment – in the paper records of healthcare providers. These used to remain in the clutches of pharma companies.

Today, the big technology giants such as IBM, Apple and many new startups are making in-roads into the healthcare segment. These new players engage with the patient through digital mediums – apps, fitness and health devices, online forums, video channels, live sessions etc.

Tech Wearables’ Onslaught

They continuously collect data from their users, such as health records, drug purchases, health insurance premiums and claims etc. Then they use advanced data analytics to deliver personalized and precise medical assistance.

Pharma companies will have to tackle the competition arising from these new players. They will either have to create these capabilities themselves or collaborate with some of the new players, or think out-of-box to maintain the leadership position.

Thus, both the customers and the healthcare value chain partners as a whole are moving towards digital – finding solutions/ options online, engaging with other patients/ doctors online. The traditional medical seminars, conferences, magazines and meet-up are evolving too with changing times.

Digital marketing is going to provide the edge required to stay ahead in the race, for pharma and healthcare companies.

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GSK boosts medtech firm Owlstone with use of ‘Breath Biopsy’ in respiratory trial

GSK boosts medtech firm Owlstone with use of ‘Breath Biopsy’ in respiratory trial | Digital Pharma news |
One of the UK’s most promising medtech start-ups, Owlstone Medical has been given a major boost by GSK’s decision to include its technology in a major clinical trial programme.

Cambridge-based Owlstone is developing the Breath Biopsy which it believes could help diagnose a huge range of diseases, including lung, bladder and breast cancer, simply from biomarker compounds present in the breath of patients.

The start-up has already begun a major trial to test the accuracy and reliability of the device in cancer detection in partnership with Cancer Research UK.

But now the new partnership with GSK in respiratory clinical trials provides an additional boost of confidence in the technology. It will also give Owlstone a new income stream, although the companies haven’t disclosed details of the deal.

GSK is a lead player in the respiratory medicines field, and will incorporate the Breath Biopsy platform into phase 2 clinical trials of danirixin, one of the GSK’s novel respiratory pipeline candidates.

Breath Biopsy will be used to assess whether the right patient for the right treatment can be identified, as well as assessing the treatment effects of a novel drug for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The technology works by capturing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in breath completely non-invasively, and analyse them with high sensitivity.

The promise of the Breath Biopsy device therefore, is that it could help GSK identify sub-populations who respond best to the treatment, allowing it to shape its clinical trial programme and potentially improving chances of developing a highly effective, marketable drug.

Via Dominique Godefroy
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Top 10 Healthcare Marketing Trends For 2018

Top 10 Healthcare Marketing Trends For 2018 | Digital Pharma news |

With 2017 almost in the rear-view mirror, it is time to start thinking about how your healthcare marketing strategy will evolve in 2018. It is a wise thing to step back for a moment, analyze the success of last year’s digital marketing campaigns and consider ways to evolve your strategy in the year to come.

Overall, 2017 was a year filled with changes and advancements in the digital marketplace. We saw the growth of ephemeral content on Instagram, innovations in live streaming, Google algorithm updates and an increased focus on unique content marketing. While it is a lot to stay on top of, these advances mean there are still unexplored roads to get inspired to improve your healthcare marketing strategy and engage your patients on a deeper level.

Most marketers prefer to write and publish digital marketing strategy pieces at the beginning of the year when everything is new and fresh, and teams are full of enthusiasm. With just three months left in the year 2017, you need to look for cutting-edge digital marketing strategies that can reinvigorate your brand in the year 2018.

If you want to stay on top of a constantly evolving digital landscape and ensure that you do not fall behind your competition regarding growth and profitability, you need to keep up with a lot of changes. This is one of the many key reasons why healthcare providers choose to work with a digital marketing agency, such as Practice Builders.

Ever wondered what makes a digital marketing agency so effective at coming up with innovative digital marketing ideas? A digital marketing agency can simplify the process of planning and executing the right campaign because it knows which communication channels can be best leveraged by a medical practice.

As you put together plans on where to focus your efforts in 2018, here are 10 digital marketing trends that can take your practice to the next level.

1. Consider Influencer Marketing: The need for influencer marketing is more significant today than it has ever been. Going by the statistics, nearly 71 percent of patients are more likely to book an appointment based on a reference on social networks.
Influencer marketing is all about taking advantage of “word-of-mouth” posts. An influencer is someone who has already gained the attention and loyalty of your target audience. You can ask any celebrity or a popular brand to interact with the target audience and endorse your products and service. Influencer marketing allows you to build instant authority for your brand, even if you are a new entrant in the market. More engaged patients mean more appointments and increased referrals.

2. Create Smart Content: Smart content, also referred to as dynamic content or adaptive content, is the most powerful pillar of your digital marketing campaigns. However, chances are you are not either creating or leveraging smart content as much as you could. As a reminder, dynamic content “talks” to your target audience – as if you know them. The more you know your target audience, the more likely you will convert prospects into patients. For instance, just by building your list of contacts, you can accumulate a significant amount of information in your CRM. Dynamic email can deliver personalized content to your target audience based on the information your system is collecting. While it is possible to do all of this manually, why would you? This is where marketing automation comes into the picture.

3. Focus on Market Automation: The rise of marketing automation platforms has simplified digital marketing tasks for medical practices. This is mainly because practices can now organize repetitive tasks across social networks and emails. This trend is very likely to deliver quick and measurable ROI. In addition, marketing automation platforms are beneficial to marketers in many ways. Firstly, they allow practices to see the relation between lead generation and digital strategies. Secondly, these platforms come with trigger-based systems that facilitate regular communication with potential and existing patients. Initially, these platforms were expensive and only large practices had access to them. However, over time, they have become affordable and scalable.

4. Think Beyond SEO: Until last year, gaining and maintaining website traffic was as easy as speeding up your SEO game. In 2018, entirely relying on SEO for improving your website traffic is a recipe for failure. Throughout 2017, Google has continued with algorithm update techniques. From Panda Mobilegeddon, the list is never-ending. A good number of reliable sites with useful content have suffered in the process. This does not mean you should forget all the SEO skills you have acquired over the years. Just keep them and improve them. It is essential to think beyond basic SEO techniques. However, do not hide from the fact that attracting patients in 2018 will demand more than just SEO.

5. Strengthen Social Media Presence: You can market and promote your practice until the cows come home, but if your approach is lacking, patients are going to scurry off somewhere else. Now more than ever, modern patients prefer to have easy access to the help and services they need. They do not want to make a phone call and stay on hold or send an email and wait for hours in a queue. Your patients want to post a comment on Facebook or send out a Tweet and get the help they need. Most medical practices have some amount of social media presence, but a handful of them leverage it for attracting patients.


6. Invest in Live Video: 2018 is said to be the year of video, with businesses of all kinds, including the healthcare sector, turning to video content to gain their target audience’s attention. Out of the various types of video, live video is said to attract the most attention so far. According to a study, long-form content and live video deliver the highest rates of ad completion. Another study expects the live video market to grow to $70.05 billion in 2021, up from $30.29 billion in 2016.

How can medical practices get on board with live video? There is a wide range of live video platforms available, which show the booming popularity of live streaming. Facebook Live is probably the most popular, but other social media networks including YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr and Periscope also support live video. You can use live video for streaming events, interviews, broadcasting a launch or reaching out to a broader audience.

7. Build a Responsive Website: You can start the new year by increasing the effectiveness of your website. The primary purpose of your practice website is to attract and inform patients. Some of the most effective elements of a high-converting healthcare website sites are: simple layout and basic design, easy navigation, contact forms with necessary information fields, social media links, patient reviews page and a media gallery for images and videos of practice and staff. Carefully building your healthcare website around the needs of your patients will help you achieve business objectives.

8. Paid Marketing Strategies a Necessity: For healthcare marketers relying solely on social networks, a lot more than just posting updates on your social media profile will be required to win your target audience. According to Forrester Research, an average patient only gets to see 16 percent of Facebook posts of their doctors and only 10 percent of tweets. We are entering an era in which marketers will have to pay to have their content distributed appropriately. For many healthcare marketers, it may mean loosening their budget to accommodate extra costs. If you want to have a lasting impact, you will have to pay for the premium services.

9. Gather More Patient Reviews: Social proof is essential for any healthcare practice trying to gain trust with potential patients. Social proof includes patient reviews, testimonials and case studies. According to a report, one in four patients check online reviews before choosing a healthcare provider. The good part is, acquiring reviews requires little effort.

One way to market your medical practice is by getting positive reviews on popular third-party sites such as and Your patients can also post reviews on social media sites like Facebook, Yelp and Google+. If the majority of your reviews are negative, or if you do not have any reviews at all, the chances are that the new patient will choose another practice.

Encouraging patients to post reviews of your practice is simple. A good way to encourage patients to post reviews is through automated emails after each visit or by including a link to the third-party review website in your satisfaction surveys.

10. Extensive Blogging: Medical practices are highly likely to take control of their content by creating their own blogs. Topics like office updates, patient-centric useful content and featured guest posts will allow healthcare marketers to nurture their brand and connect with more patients. According to industry experts, 2018 is going to be another exciting year for innovative ways to reach patients and increase brand awareness. Rapid development in communication technology is making it increasingly challenging, and marketers will need to experiment and adapt in order to keep up.

Final Words

Incorporating these tips into your healthcare marketing strategy can help you connect with existing and potential patients. As hectic as running a practice may get, it is important for healthcare providers to appear as approachable as possible. Marketing your medical practice in a welcoming manner will draw in more patients while encouraging them to stay with your practice for a long time.

This makes it critical to find a healthcare marketing agency that can help you build your practice while you focus on caring for your patients. At Practice Builders, we offer a unique blend of reputation management as well as digital marketing that will help bring in new patients and strengthen your brand.

If your current marketing efforts do not include online reputation management and digital marketing, we are here to help. Implementing these strategies will drive more patient referrals, improve patient retention and keep your practice’s reputation strong.
For help with building your brand and executing digital marketing ideas for your practice, contact a Practice Builders representative today.

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CherryNetwork's curator insight, November 11, 2017 11:12 AM

Indeed here to stay....

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Johnson & Johnson launches surgery patient support platform

Johnson & Johnson launches surgery patient support platform | Digital Pharma news |

Johnson & Johnson has announced a suite of digital tools designed for patients preparing to undergo or recovering from knee, hip, and weight loss surgery.


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Comment le laboratoire Ipsen transforme la gestion de ses "Master Data"

Comment le laboratoire Ipsen transforme la gestion de ses "Master Data" | Digital Pharma news |
Comment le laboratoire Ipsen transforme la gestion de ses "Master Data"
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Grippe : Sanofi fait le pari de l'intelligence artificielle

Grippe : Sanofi fait le pari de l'intelligence artificielle | Digital Pharma news |
Le laboratoire français va s'appuyer sur la plateforme de la sociét
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5 Ways Digital has Reshaped Pharma Marketing as We Know it 

5 Ways Digital has Reshaped Pharma Marketing as We Know it  | Digital Pharma news |

Healthcare sector might be slow to adapt to the digital marketing revolution. But these days pharmaceutical marketing companies are making some big steps towards digitization. Pharma and healthcare marketing companies are providing customer service portals, live video reps and e-sampling.

This new digital transformation is bringing both challenges and opportunities for pharma marketers.  If you are finding it difficult to adapt to the big changes in healthcare marketing, don’t worry.

Here’s a blog to guide you through the changes brought to you by the digital revolution. It will help you find your way through pharma marketing trends of tomorrow.


Digital world is a visual world


People prefer to watch visual info rather than text. That’s why every modern pharma marketing campaign is based on visual info, and a video is the best way to visualize your message.

Everybody love videos. Physicians, patients, search engines, social media and every other pillar of digital marketing. That’s why video has become a must-have element of every pharma marketing strategy.


 Digital channels replaced regular forms of advertising


Recent study showed that pharmaceutical marketers are increasing their budgets for digital advertising. Social media marketing and mobile apps budgets are getting larger as well.

This is pharma’s response to the changing world. A world where 72% of internet consumers are searching for medical information online and where 47% of them are searching info about HCPs, hospitals and other facilities online.

Pharma is also increasingly turning to digital advertising. And it’s relocating its efforts, personnel, and money to digital advertising channels.


Changing target audience


But there’s a new trend emerging. Nowadays healthcare marketers increasingly target consumers and payers with their campaigns. Doctor’s decision making is in many ways affected by patient’s health literacy. A well- informed patient always has a saying in the decision-making process.


 Digitally savvy physicians


Physicians are spending most of their day on computers, tablets, and mobile phones. They no longer limit themselves to medical journals and printed publications. Today’s tech-savvy physician, is using Google to find clinical textbooks or medical journals.


That’s why digital pharma marketers are marketing to Google just as much as they do to physicians. Optimizing your pharma brand’s website is of vital importance for reaching modern HCPs.

Since physicians are turning to Google for medical information marketers are doing all they can to ensure that HCPs bump into their website when browsing the net. Getting doctor’s to visit your website is often half the work. The other half is getting them interested in your product.


 Well informed  consumers


There was a time when patients were limited to recommendation provided by doctors. These days people are likely to do their homework before they even enter that doctor’s office.

Today’s patients see healthcare as a collaboration between themselves and physicians. Patients are now consulting Google on issues that influence their health-related choices.

People are primarily Googling for specific diseases or medical conditions but they are also searching for info about various treatments and procedures. Also, they base their choice of HCPs on the info they find on the internet.

Healthcare marketing companies are using every inbound has to offer. From email marketing and social media channels to video marketing and video campaigns. A multi-channel approach is more likely to make an impact on their target audience as healthcare sector is evolving, so is the relationship between physicians and sales reps.

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Where is biotech and big pharma on social media?

Where is biotech and big pharma on social media? | Digital Pharma news |

“The absence of pharma brands on social media creates a significant void of reputable healthcare information to aid patients.” posits Dawn Lacallade, LiveWorld. Why isn’t the pharmaceutical industry more active on social media? They would say advertising restrictions and other FDA regulations severely limit their ability to have a social media presence. There is a fear of discussing prescription medication in the uncontrolled environment of the internet. But the industry is missing a terrific opportunity to impact their entire constituency: patients, caregivers, employees, scientists and even their reputation.

Unmetric, a branded content analytics company, recently released a report that outlined social media trends for big pharma. They cited four silos where pharmaceutical companies are utilizing social media. All companies studied have excellent corporate social profiles. They are attractive and informative in a general way about the company, but they aren’t interactive. Most of the pharmaceutical companies have a career silo. It is interesting that the pharmaceutical industry has lagged other industries in setting up and managing an effective career site. No real clarity on why this has happened. There is little to no FDA regulation on advertising open positions.

About half of the pharmaceutical companies in Unmetric’s study have invested money and content into OTC brand profiles. Again these tend to be static/informative and not interactive. The biggest opportunity for big pharma is in the last silo defined by Unmetric, branded community properties. Patient’s have been and continue to turn to social media to research and understand their symptoms and diagnoses as well as trying to connect with other patients.


Under current FDA regulations it is hard for the pharma company to easily join the conversation to provide accurate, balanced info because regulations mandate that “within a single social post brands must provide accurate details on the benefits and risks associated with conditions and products.” Character limits and the speed with which interactions occur means a different approach is necessary. Pharma companies must talk about the disease rather than the product or drug itself. They must try to create a place where people gather who are concerned about one of these conditions. Trying to figure out what drives engagement and putting more effort and money into it will pay off for big pharma.

Social listening is another tool that biotech and big pharma under utilize. Gauging community sentiment about marketed drugs, learning about competitors and gaining insights to improve products, services and treatments are all achievable through social media research. Social media should be more of a pull than a push of information when done correctly. Kiran Mazumdar-Sahw, Chair and Managing Director of Biocon Limited, says, “Doctors clearly will drive this change, as will younger patients. The mindset today is still controlled by pre-internet key opinion leader doctors and older patients who are not tech savvy. As younger and tech-savvy doctors and patients populate our health care ecosystem, things will change and this change will occur rapidly after a certain inflection point which is not more than 3-5 years away. There will be an explosion of social media and mobile-based apps.” For the savvy biotech or pharmaceutical company it’s time to start investing in social media.

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Why Big Pharma and biotech are betting big on AI

Why Big Pharma and biotech are betting big on AI | Digital Pharma news |
Developing new medicines isn’t for the faint of heart. On average, it takes about a decade of research — and an expenditure of $2.6 billion — to shepherd an experimental drug from lab to market. And because of concerns over safety and effectiveness, only about 5 percent of experimental drugs make it to market at all.

But drug makers and tech companies are investing billions of dollars in artificial intelligence with the hope that AI will make the drug discovery process faster and cheaper.

“I believe that AI is a sleeping giant for healthcare in general,” Eric Horvitz, director of Microsoft Research Labs in Redmond, Washington, said last month at the annual meeting of the American Association of the Advancement for Science in Austin, Texas. He said Microsoft was investing in AI for drug design and pharmacology, which studies how drugs act in the body, and called the technology a “tremendous opportunity.”

Microsoft is far from alone in its AI bet. As of late February, the Toronto-based biotech company BenchSci had counted 16 pharmaceutical companies and more than 60 startups using AI for drug discovery.

Biggest bottlenecks

The biggest bottlenecks in drug development usually lie within the early stages of research, especially in the time needed to go from identifying a potential disease target (typically a protein within the body) to testing whether a drug candidate can hit that target.

The most ambitious AI groups, including a private-public consortium dubbed ATOM, are aiming to compress that process — which can take four to six years — into a single year.

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Pharma looking at Snapchat for younger audiences

Pharma looking at Snapchat for younger audiences | Digital Pharma news |

A story on Snapchat in MM&M shows that Snapchat is growing in popularity and is competing with Instagram for the younger demographics. Pharma marketers looking to a younger, including Millennial, audience may find some relatively underpopulated space on the platform.


The first issue surrounding Snapchat is demographics. If your audience skews younger you’re in the zone. If your audience is older you may have a caregiver and family member opportunity, and some brands have even had success with younger conference delegates. In comScore’s latest data we can see that both Snapchat and Instagram are catching up with Facebook for the 18-34 demo:

Image modified for email from comScore report, Cross-Platform Future in Focus U.S. 2017

This data is illustrative in that we see the 18-34 audience moving to the quick-hit image-centric platforms of Snapchat and Instagram, but what about those younger than 18? Pharma marketers are loathe to target children because most of our products are indicated for 18+. Academics, however, are free to do so and the results are eye-opening:

Image created from data in Associated Press /University of Chicago report


The story talks about how Snapchat users are “growing into” the age where they will start to engage with health content:

As Klick Health’s senior director of social media Brad Einarsen points out, many millennials are becoming parents themselves. “After you have a child, health becomes very important. And as you get older, health takes on a bigger profile,” he notes. He adds that as millennials age, their wants and needs will increasingly overlap with pharma’s marketing priorities.

(Hey, I know that guy -Ed.)


The article also talks about Snapchat’s culture. It’s much more informal and encourages risk-taking because of the ephemeral nature of the posts (for those not familiar with the platform, they disappear after a specified number of seconds and users are alerted to screen captures).

Finally, there’s the Snapchat voice and tone, which Einarsen likens to “hanging out with your friends and chatting.” (Well duh, it is called Snapchat after all -Ed.) Twitter, on the other hand, is “more about learning things.” If they hope to craft messages that will resonate, brands must master the platform’s default tone. “Humor and very, very quick hits” are the key, explains Einarsen.

We’re out of space, but the full article also talks about HCP engagements and MRL tactics and is worth a few minutes of your Monday morning (66% of you read the Wire before 11AM -Ed.).

For (much) more detail you can just reply to this email and it will get to our social team. We’re happy to chat about all things health and social.

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Why The Healthcare Industry Can't Ignore Social Media Marketing Infographic - e-Learning Infographics

Why The Healthcare Industry Can't Ignore Social Media Marketing Infographic - e-Learning Infographics | Digital Pharma news |
This Why The Healthcare Industry Can't Ignore Social Media Marketing Infographic shows how the healthcare industry benefits from social media marketing.

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Start-ups africaines.Sanofi lance 3 challenges pour améliorer l'accès aux soins en Afrique

Start-ups africaines.Sanofi lance 3 challenges pour améliorer l'accès aux soins en Afrique | Digital Pharma news |

Sanofi souhaite promouvoir l’innovation en Afrique, en lançant 3 challenges aux start-ups africaines dans le cadre de l’Afric@Tech.
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Shionogi aims for digital transformation

Shionogi aims for digital transformation | Digital Pharma news |
Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi is planning a wide-ranging digital project that will see it ramp up its investment in cloud, cybersecurity and other technologies.

The work, which will also include a talent development programme, will be delivered by Accenture over seven years, with the consultants assisting with the firm’s IT strategy and roadmap.

Takuko Sawada, director and senior executive officer of Shionogi & Co, said: “As a drug discovery-based pharmaceutical company, our goal is to contribute to a more vigorous society through improved healthcare.

“To ensure sustainable growth and enhance our specialised business operations, we established six subsidiaries, including Shionogi Digital Science in April 2017. Through our initiatives with Accenture, we will streamline business operations by leveraging [cloud, cybersecurity etc], which will enhance our ability to leverage data analytics, enabling us to respond quickly to the rapidly evolving business landscape and promote innovative new drugs.”

Via Dominique Godefroy
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Use Case: AI in Pharma - Finding Drug Side-effect Reviews in Social Media and Forums

Use Case: AI in Pharma - Finding Drug Side-effect Reviews in Social Media and Forums | Digital Pharma news |

Although the safety of drugs is tested during clinical trials, many adverse drug reactions (ADR) may only be revealed under certain circumstances, for instance: long-term use, when used in conjunction with other drugs or by people excluded from trials, such as children or pregnant women.

Nowadays consumers often report their experiences with ADR on social media instead of traditional channels, which makes drug safety surveillance systems less efficient.


Thanks to our solution, drug safety surveillance systems can be easily improved by incorporating the knowledge extracted from social media into them.

Our system enables fast scanning of various data resources, such as: Twitter, Facebook or forums posts.

Then, using state-of-the art Natural Language Processing techniques it filters out irrelevant information.
The remaining, relevant data is processed and certain entities, such as: drug name, ADR, pharmaceutical company name, person age and gender, are extracted and analyzed.

The last step is automatic report generation. The executive summary containing all found ADR and insights on how they occurred is created and could be used in further drug development.

BenefitsMore efficient identification of novel adverse drug reactionsReducing cost of drug safety surveillance systemsImproving drug safety by finding potential ADR fasterIdentified interactions could be used in further study and drug development


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Novartis : La réalité virtuelle entre dans les laboratoires | Zone bourse

Dans les années 1950, les scientifiques ont créé des modèles de protéines en utilisant des fils et des blocs pour représenter la machinerie... | 23 novembre 2017
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Le CDO de Merck KGaA pointe les frictions entre industries de santé et entreprises de la tech

Le CDO de Merck KGaA pointe les frictions entre industries de santé et entreprises de la tech | Digital Pharma news |

BERLIN (TICpharma) - Le secteur de la santé est dominé par des structures très traditionnelles qui se retrouvent de plus en plus confrontées à l'agilité des entreprises spécialisées dans les technologies se frayant un chemin vers le marché, a analysé James Kugler, Chief Digital Officer (CDO) du groupe allemand Merck KGaA, dans un entretien accordé à APM Health Europe.

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Is it Time for Pharma to Look at Snapchat and Tumblr?

Is it Time for Pharma to Look at Snapchat and Tumblr? | Digital Pharma news |

When you consider your social tactic mix, should you be looking at Snapchat and Tumblr? The answer may surprise you.

As Medical Marketing & Media (MM&M) noted recently, “It may have taken longer than it did elsewhere, but pharma has finally achieved some not-insignificant degree of comfort and confidence in the realm of social media.” But even a brand comfortable with social may not be up to date.

One of the key differences between social and traditional platforms is the speed of their evolution. Social outlets change features and capabilities often, and their user base can change rapidly. As a result, using the right blend of social requires tracking and understanding these changes.

Many marketers still use “Millennial” as a dismissive shorthand for “kids” — forgetting that, by most definitions, members of that cohort may now be as old as 37. Similarly, many still dismiss Snapchat and Tumblr as “for the kids.” But their growth, and the aging and evolution of their user bases, may require a second look. 

Snapchat — Ephemeral and Hyper-Personal

With 300 million active users, one-third of which use the app daily, it’s easy to see that Snapchat is gaining critical mass, but many marketers still assume that the user base is youth. As we’ve seen with most other social networks, though, this is changing: the fastest growing segment of Snapchat users is 35+.

Snapchat often creates a different style of connection than other platforms. Its ephemeral nature lends a rapid, informal, unusually personal flavor to posts, which often feel less artificial and contrived than images shared on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

The increasing popularity of Instagram Stories, a Snapchat-like feature, may encroach on Snapchat — but at present, Snap remains a company to consider, particularly related to time- and location-sensitive events, for which branded filters can be used, and crowdsourced stories can be aggregated.

Tumblr — Conversing, Not Creating

Like Snapchat, Tumblr does still skew young: it’s most popular with users 18-29. But with 358 million who have a Tumblr blog, and a claimed 600 million users, its size makes Tumblr something to consider. 

In contrast to Snapchat, while you can post original text, images, GIFs (especially popular) or videos on Tumblr, you can also — much more commonly — reblog others’ content. As such, in Tumblr’s environment, you’ll notice far more about community discussion than individual creation, and far more non-personal content (posts about pop culture or jokes, rather than a specific individual or event).


Pharma has already have made headway into Tumblr, as MM&M noted recently:

AbbVie's CF Tumblr, Through Thick and Thin, has the Tumblr zeitgeist down, with lots of reblogs, and content that’s not only relevant but fun.Gilead's Healthysexual is a bit drier and more factual, but still good.J&J Vision’s Eyeful focuses (no pun intended … well, maybe a little) on LASIK-related topics.Pfizer's Pfizer365 and Countering Cancer must make their corporate branding folks proud, because they’re very consistent in the Pfizer look and feel.

It’s interesting to see pharma’s initial forays into Tumblr, running the gamut from corporate to disease awareness, while not yet going into specific branding.


While neither Snapchat nor Tumblr are about to dethrone Facebook, Youtube or Instagram as leaders in social networking, they’re worth watching.

But even if they’re not the leaders, don’t discount these platforms. They’re robust, growing, and center on sharing visual content — all hallmarks of the current digital zeitgeist.

Both platforms are visual, so they require a more image-focused narrative creativity than a more text-heavy outlet. This may be an evolution for some brand teams. It’s also interesting to contrast Snapchat’s evanescent, familiar tone with Tumblr’s attention to pop culture and commentary.

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AstraZeneca vante les bienfaits de son partenariat avec une communauté de patients en ligne

AstraZeneca vante les bienfaits de son partenariat avec une communauté de patients en ligne | Digital Pharma news |

LONDRES (TICpharma) - Le partenariat noué en 2015 entre le laboratoire AstraZeneca et la communauté de patients en ligne PatientsLikeMe a permis de collaborer avec plus de 70.000 patients d'une façon plus simple et plus rapide, a souligné le 20 octobre le Dr Cathy Emmas, directrice des partenariats chez AstraZeneca, lors du 14ème congrès "Patient Summit Europe" à Londres.

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Pharma Needs to Fearlessly Innovate in Social Media

Pharma Needs to Fearlessly Innovate in Social Media | Digital Pharma news |

There’s something the pharmaceutical industry can learn from this past year’s Presidential election: social media counts. It’s no secret that the pharma industry is risk-averse. However, it’s time for a change. As management guru W. Edwards Deming reminds us, “Change is not required. Survival is not mandatory.”

Peter Pitts, President and Co-Founder of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and Former FDA Associate Commissioner for External Relations said, “Social media just keeps on rolling along. And regulated industry just keeps falling further and further behind the curve.”

This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Oct. '17 Healthcare & Medical PR Magazine

Don’t misunderstand the FDA

To understand why pharmaceutical companies have been slow to integrate social media into their media mix, it’s helpful to consider the perception of an indistinct regulatory landscape they must put aside. The good news is that the FDA offers specific guidance for pharma companies to participate in social media in a regulatory-compliant manner.

It’s not easy, but it is possible. And the benefits certainly outweigh the risks.

The FDA writes:

If a firm voluntarily corrects misinformation in a truthful and non-misleading manner and as described in this draft guidance, FDA does not intend to object if the corrective information voluntarily provided by the firm does not satisfy otherwise applicable regulatory requirements regarding labeling or advertising, if any.

To many in pharmaceutical company marketing and regulatory review departments, it may seem a distinction without a difference. But that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the FDA’s mindset when it comes to social media. For example, in September 2008, the FDA sent out a warning letter regarding a YouTube video in which a paid celebrity spokesperson said that a drug had “cured” his disease (a decidedly off-label claim, shades of Dorothy Hamill and Vioxx).

And many internal reviewers industry-wide said, “See, you can’t use YouTube.”

Not so. It wasn’t about YouTube. If the content is non-compliant, then it is non-compliant, regardless of platform. As far as the FDA is concerned, platforms are agnostic. It’s the content that counts.

In March 2013, there was much angst over the FDA’s Warning Letter to AMARC Enterprises because of their Poly Mva Facebook page. Some concluded that this meant pharma shouldn’t be on Facebook. But the gist of that letter was that the company is marketing its veterinary dietary supplement as a human oncology drug.

In the letter, the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion spends a lot of time addressing the violative claims made on the company’s website and then—at the very bottom of the letter—addresses the issue of Facebook. The OPDP writes: We also note that your Facebook account includes a post, which was “liked” by “Poly Mva”:

“Poly MVA has done wonders for me. I take it intravenously 2x a week and it has helped me tremendously. It enabled me to keep cancer at bay without the use of chemo and radiation … Thank you AMARC.”

That’s a violative statement on any media platform. It just happened to take place on Facebook. “Liking” a violative third-party statement from your own Facebook account is violative behavior. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

As long as pharma companies communicate with honesty and integrity, they will be just fine on social media, which should be music to their ears, because the platform provides them an opportunity to innovate and reach customers in new ways.

Courage + conviction=content, creativity

For pharma industry social media pioneers, the payoff has been big. For example, Pfizer leveraged the power of community to create the platform Get Old, which centers around the fear of aging as well as wellness, disease prevention and treatment. The campaign fosters online discussion through content, forums and social media posts. The goals for pharma companies in campaigns like this are much bigger than an increase in product sales. It’s about shifting attitudes of not only their own companies, but becoming the hub of information for large populations of people.

The results have shown this to be true: several years later a poll conducted on behalf of Pfizer reported that the Get Old campaign produced a 45 to 55 percent uptick in how consumers felt about Pfizer’s reputation as a trustworthy company and also attributed to employee recruitment and retention goals.

Unbranded content communities can bring people together through powerful storytelling that isn’t possible with traditional marketing communications. Abb-Vie created StoryLab, which features researched, strategic articles that bring Abb-Vie to life through unbranded, engaging stories that matter to their key stakeholders.

To get their big idea off the ground, AbbVie created a focused content team that creates, develops, distributes and measures a wealth of stories and information across social platforms. It’s also worth noting their owned content also is often distributed and pitched to traditional media outlets, which truly makes StoryLab an efficient and integrated strategy—two keys to success.

One way to begin this new approach to content development is by creating a platform that focuses on the areas where your products specialize. This means shifting away from product-specific marketing to disease education and prevention information that helps audiences connect with one another. The most effective unbranded social media efforts evoke emotions and encourage experiences.

Not only will connective social campaigns elevate pharma companies to becoming educators and leaders in health, but they will also empower patients to become energized brand ambassadors. While pharma companies have been slower to dive into the innovative opportunities within digital campaigns, populations will continue to seek meaningful ways to connect with the companies that help improve their health and their lives.

It’s time for pharma to get over any remaining fears of social media, or mistakenly point to regulatory as a crutch. And companies shouldn’t just “keep the lights on” or “do it because we need a Facebook page.” They should dive headfirst into smart, engaging campaigns that create a platform around the needs of the customer. The industry’s hesitance means there is opportunity — right now — to win the communications in this space. If you keep waiting around, someone is going to beat you to it.

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