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Sanofi launches iPhone diabetes monitor and app in UK

Sanofi launches iPhone diabetes monitor and app in UK | Digital Pharma |

Sanofi has launched an iPhone-compatible device in the UK it hopes will give the pharma company an edge in the tough blood glucose monitoring market.

The iBGStar is the first blood glucose monitor to sync with the iPhone and iPod touch, and the first that allows users to input their own data and notes via a specially designed app.


It costs £48 (about €57) and will be available exclusively through the Boots chemist chain, while Sanofi’s separate, standalone BGStar device, which is also launched today, will be available for free from healthcare professionals.


Jason Lovatt, Sanofi’s brand lead for BGStar and iBGStar, told PMLiVE: “BGStar is similar to other products on the market, in that it’s a standalone separate device to measure blood glucose levels and it has a very competitive feature set.


“The BGStar is a key piece of kit, but where the real innovation comes in is with the iBGStar, which connects to an iPhone and allows you to do a lot more with your results.”


Acting as an electronic log book, the iBGStar’s Diabetes Manager app allows users to input specific notes against the readings, such as recording carbohydrate intake, insulin use or other factors that may help them understand their results. Information also can be shared via email with healthcare professionals and family members,

The iBGStar also comes with additional support services, including a 24-hour freephone diabetes care line, a comprehensive website, patient support materials, a lifetime meter replacement service and free control solution.


“It’s about trying to provide more than just the meter, more than just an insulin, and complement them with things that help people manage and handle their diabetes," Lovatt said.


The product has already been launched in a number of other European countries, including France and Germany, where it has been well received Lovatt said.


“Blood glucose monitoring is quite a tough market. There are very good products and well established brands. So for Sanofi to have come into the market and have had some success is a big accomplishment for the company.


“What differentiates Sanofi from other companies is the fact that we are an insulin manufacturer as well,” Lovatt said. “The combined approach of looking at someone’s treatment needs with regards to their insulin, and then looking at their monitoring needs and then packaging together some education, that synergy is one of the key things that will differentiate Sanofi from other companies in the market.”


Sanofi will use the same salesforce that sells its insulin products to distribute its monitors and demonstrate them to healthcare professionals, in particular diabetes nurses.


The iBGStar has a CE mark as a medical device, in which setting it is classified as an accessory, and Sanofi is considering the practicalities of producing an Android version of the device, where the challenge will be working with smartphones that lack Apple’s standard connection slot.

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Survey: A Quarter Of All Doctors In Europe Use iPads Professionally

Survey: A Quarter Of All Doctors In Europe Use iPads Professionally | Digital Pharma |
First, a word of caution: the Manhattan Research survey that yielded this data was performed online, so that’s going to skew the results straight away. But even taking that into account, it’s powerful data.


According to the survey, just over a quarter of all doctors in the EU — primary care and specialist — use an iPad for professional purposes. That’s a big number for a device primarily aimed at content consumption and not hardened against a hospital environment.


And it seems that the doctors in fact do use it primarily for content consumption: a quarter of their “work online time” is spent on it (55% is still on a desktop), looking up articles, showing online resources to patients, and so on. Right now the market for iPad-oriented productivity software for healthcare appears to be more or less wide open; doctors are using the device (40% planned to buy one in the next six months as well), but more as a portable web browser than a care accessory.


There are some medical apps and services coming to the iPad, but the medical establishment isn’t very quick to move. Many hospitals still use systems from the 90s or before because of the effort and money that would be involved with upgrading. And standards for privacy, emissions, documentation, and so on have to be consistent as well, something that doesn’t happen overnight.


For the moment, the iPad is simply a useful portable screen on which a doctor can pull up relevant info for a patient, browse recent journal articles without going back to their office, or do some light email. It will take a long time for development to catch up with the needs of the community, but this foot in the door by Apple could become extremely valuable a little ways down the line.

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Social media for the healthcare industry: examples from MENA

Social media for the healthcare industry: examples from MENA | Digital Pharma |
Hospitals, clinics and pharmaceutical companies need effective social media strategies to thrive in this age.


The most challenging part of implementing a successful social media campaign is pulling in the relevant audience. Like in any other website, social media is driven by content.

It is common to find Twitter accounts without followers and Facebook pages without fans. You have to provide value to get value. Below are a few pointers on how to effectively do so.


Provide useful medical information

The internet is filled with medical advice from quacks. Consumers of such information can end up complicating their conditions further. Healthcare institutions can help bridge this gap by providing those in need with proper information and advice through social media.


You can provide simple solutions to common ailments and later follow up to determine the level of success. For complicated medical conditions, you can simply refer them to specialists in that field even though they do not belong to your organization.

This helps build trust and validates your noble intentions. You should never indulge in self promotion in the social media space. Users find it repulsive.


Social media enables you to have a one on one conversation with those seeking information. This builds your reputation and positions your institution as the go to source of reliable healthcare information.


This is the most effective way of marketing your products and services at almost no cost.

Social media can also bo effectively used to raise awareness about healthcare issues and be used to promote a health lifestyle.


For example, GE Healthcare's Get Fit social media competition on Twitter aimed to raise awarenss about cancer prevention and healthy living. The campaign elicited a strong response from the Middle East, with residents in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the UAE actively taking part to endorse a healthy lifestyle.


The GE global campaign took place as competition between different continents, where Twitter users simply tweeted what they were doing to to strive for a healthier lifestyle, with each tweet including a country-specific Get Fit hash tag.

The Get Fit website showed a map showing which continent generated the most 'healthy tweets'. The winning country in that continent (as determined by open vote) received a $20,000 donation to the Red Cross or Red Crescent society operating in that country.



Whether you like it or not, your clients are on social media and are talking about you. You can either choose to engage them or ignore them at your peril.

To successfully engage them, you first need to listen to what is being said about your organization and others in the industry.


This does not have to take too much time as there are apps that help you do this without too much of a hustle. There are many tools and specialists that can help you to track and analyze what is being said on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Listening allows you to fashion your communication with your audience according to their needs. Most healthcare providers make the mistake of throwing information at people yet they are unaware of their needs.


Initiate conversation

Instead of waiting for your audience to initiate conversation it is most often prudent to do so yourself. Although your audience may have ideas and suggestions on how to improve your products and services they may not voice them unless prompted.


You can leverage the power of social media to get feedback on any new products, payment procedures, doctor reviews and any other issues.

During large scale disasters that require emergency medical response, a hospital can use social media to give the public updates on the status of the crisis. You can give hotlines for the public to call in case they are stranded, survival tips, number of casualties and any other relevant information.

You can also help people find their loved ones who may have been admitted at your facility. A pharmaceutical company can share information on new drugs to fight epidemics and tips on avoiding infection.


This will grow your influence among members of the online community as more people seek out and share the information you provide.


A good example of a healthcare brand actively engaging in conversation on social networks is skincare services company, Kaya Skin Clinic. The skin speclalist actively replies to queries on Facebook, resolving issues and there-by building strong relationships with customers.


Take action

The most important thing on social media is reputation. You should guard it at all costs. Be truthful always. If an issue is raised, make sure that you respond to it and act accordingly. Failure to keep your word can damage the reputation of any healthcare institution irreparably.


Check your social media accounts regularly for any requests or comments that may need immediate response. Hiring a dedicated resource to do so can be a good idea.


Involve employees

To make your foray into social media successful you have to involve all the employees. Make it a team sport and they will gladly contribute to the growth of your influence in the social media space.


At the end of the day, employees are people who relate with others on social media. By recruiting them as evangelists you can increase the likelihood of success in your social media campaign.

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GE Healthcare Empowers Patients with Advanced Online Patient Portal

GE Healthcare Empowers Patients with Advanced Online Patient Portal | Digital Pharma |

Centricity Patient Online Portal Connects the Patient with the Provider


In response to customer demand for a better way to interact with patients in an increasingly self-service climate, GE Healthcare today introduced Centricity Patient Online 13. Centricity Patient Online is a flexible, scalable, and highly configurable patient portal designed for large healthcare organizations. By extending the provider workflow to the patient’s home with a range of easy-to-use self-service tools, Patient Online enhances patient communications, optimizes staff and provider productivity, and can help strengthen the provider’s market and competitive position. It helps customers meet Meaningful Use Stage 1 patient and family engagement criteria and prepare them for expected Stage 2 requirements.


In fact, during this this challenging time in healthcare, GE Healthcare’s Centricity Patient Online may be just what the doctor ordered. With Patient Online 13, patients can connect with their healthcare providers through the Web or their mobile device to schedule appointments, pay bills, manage health information, complete pre-visit forms, send secure messages, begin an eVisit and respond to alerts and reminders sent by the practice.


“This release continues to advance Patient Online as one of the leading patient portal products,” said Denise Cuddeback, assistant vice president at Carolinas Physician Network, where the implementation of Patient Online’s direct scheduling features have reduced the network’s no-show rate to 1% for appointments directly scheduled through the portal. “The features in this release include impressive workflow enhancements, improved bi-directional patient communication and patient-directed security controls.”


A key focus of healthcare reforms, including Meaningful Use, Patient-Centered Medical Home, and Accountable Care Organizations, is to ensure that individuals and families are engaged as partners in their care. The end goal is improved clinical outcomes, and, ultimately, reduced costs to the system as a whole. A tethered patient portal, such as Patient Online, is a key to the evolution of care.

“Studies have shown that people who are more engaged with their health care may experience better health outcomes,” said Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, health economist and analyst who writes with the blog Health Populi. “Patient Online enables greater health engagement by giving people access to lab test results, allowing people to know their numbers, and to make appointments and pay health care bills online.”


A result of continual customer collaboration, Patient Online 13 offers the tightest connection of any patient portal with GE’s market-leading Centricity Business revenue cycle management solution and interoperability with virtually any standards-based Electronic Medical Record (EMR).


"Fletcher Allen Health Care's MyHealth Online portal is an incredibly powerful tool," said Chuck Podesta, Chief Information Officer at Fletcher Allen Health Care, where GE's Patient Online has been in use since June 2011. "Patient Online allows for flexible integration and, as a result, we have been able to leverage the administrative, financial, and clinical patient workflows through a single user interface at FAHC. The patient response is incredible and, since it fits right into the existing workflows, our staff loves it, too."


Healthcare organizations today are facing unprecedented fiscal challenges. To balance their budgets, many are now searching for cost-effective and efficient alternatives to budget-busters like postal mail for pre-visit forms, appointment and preventative screening reminders, and large call centers with long hold times, high drop rates, and non-stop telephone tag.


”This product is well positioned for today’s medical environment,” said Michael Friguletto, vice president and general manager of GE Healthcare IT. “We look forward to helping our customers reduce costs, increase access and enhance the quality of care they’re able to provide their patients. When patients demand 24/7 access and interactivity with their providers and their medical records, it’s a great time to be in healthcare.”

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FDA gives guidance on brand, generic names in ads

FDA gives guidance on brand, generic names in ads | Digital Pharma |
The FDA issued guidance clarifying narrow questions of scientific or generic name placement in ads and labeling in different media, including electronic media.


The agency, said the guidance, “frequently receives inquiries about the placement, size, prominence and frequency of the proprietary (or brand) name and the established (scientific, generic) name in promotional materials.” Most of these inquiries are concerned with either the juxtaposition of brand and generic names or with “problems stemming from obscuring the presentation of, or minimizing disclosure of, the established name.”


The guidance distinguishes between name placement in “running text (i.e., body copy), and in headlines, taglines, logos, footnotes, graphs or pictures, along with stipulating different requirements for drugs with a single active ingredient and for combo drugs. For “electronic and computer-based promotional labeling and advertisements” on single-ingredient drugs, the agency noted that online labeling and advertising typically feature running text equivalent to many pages of traditional printed text. Where the brand name does not appear in running text, the scientific name must accompany the brand name in each instance. In the body copy, the scientific name may appear once per screen.


“It is narrow, but there is new information,” said Wendy Blackburn, EVP at Overland Park, KS-based agency Intouch Solutions. “For example, it addresses the rules for brand and generic mentions on website ‘screens,' but doesn't articulate how a screen is defined. Do they mean a full page from top to bottom of the scroll, or the portion I see on my monitor? At what screen resolution? And what if I'm looking at the screen in a partially-sized browser window, or on my iPad or smartphone or other device?”


Moreover, Blackburn suggested, the rules for videos, DTC TV ads and websites could require that companies perform a complete internal review of all promotional materials across channels, including brand logos, at great expense.

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Genentech education campaign urges flu sufferers to mind their manners

Genentech education campaign urges flu sufferers to mind their manners | Digital Pharma |
Genentech is sponsoring a flu education campaign featuring hereditary etiquette expert Anna Post offering advice to the flu-stricken on keeping the bug to themselves.


The “Are You That Guy?” effort, for which Genentech is partnering with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, features a website (, Facebook page and media outreach touting a survey on how people handle the flu. Post, the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post and co-author of the 18th edition of Emily Post's Etiquette, appears in videos and a factsheet with guidance on being a considerate sickie.

“No one wants to be ‘That Guy' who spreads the flu to family, friends, or colleagues,” said Post. “Knowing how to politely cancel an event you're hosting or how to avoid shaking your client's hand because you're sick can be difficult and potentially awkward. By following appropriate flu etiquette, we can all play a role in preventing the spread of the flu virus.”


Visitors to the website or Facebook page can download a “Fight the Flu” iPhone app featuring a flu tracker, quizzes and polls and email alerts about flu rates in their area. The website also features a symptom checker and doctor discussion guide, along with a Q&A-style edu-game and plenty of quirky animation. It's all unbranded, though the utility of antivirals in flu treatment and prevention is heavily emphasized. Genentech manufactures the antiviral flu-fighter Tamiflu.


The survey of 1,044 US adults found that 64% had gone about their regular daily activities despite being wracked with flu sometime in the past three years, even though 81% agreed that people sick with the flu should cancel social obligations to avoid infecting others. Little more than a third (36%) said they'd call their doctor if they thought they had the flu, and 37% said they are uncomfortable telling flu sufferers that they should stay home.

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Government Regulators and Social Media Guidelines… But were Afraid to Ask

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Government Regulators and Social Media Guidelines… But were Afraid to Ask | Digital Pharma |

Regulatory authorities have been working on social media guidelines for drug and device marketers for some time. These were due to be delivered at various times, most recently, by the end of the first quarter of 2011. Yet here we are, entering a new year, and the reality is that we may never receive explicit guidance from regulatory authorities on the use of social media.


To be fair, the rapidly shifting social media landscape makes it difficult – if not impossible – for regulatory bodies to produce meaningful guidelines that have any shelf life at all. Yet we are not flying entirely blind. While it is impossible to cover every situation and scenario in the incredibly dynamic space that IS social media, the aim of this article is to provide a sense of the types of questions pharmaceutical executives should be asking about what can and cannot be done with social media.


Social Media Defined


Step 1 is to agree on a definition for ‘social media.’ This is not easy because nearly everyone has an opinion about what the term means. The precise definition of ‘social media’ is not critical, but the key concept to bear in mind is this: ‘Social media’ does not refer to any individual site, such as Facebook or Twitter. Rather, it refers to any online media outlet, application or tool that allows people to collaborate and share information. Importantly, regulators have embraced this wider view of social media.


In general, social media sites encourage people to upload a profile containing information about themselves and allow users to share that information online with others. Social media encompasses a wide range of categories, including but not limited to, the following:


- Social Networking – e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Badoo, QQ, LinkedIn
- Social Bookmarking Sites – e.g., Delicious, Stumbleupon
- Social News Sites – e.g., Digg, Reddit
- Community Forums – e.g., CafePharma,, MDTF
- Social Wikis – e.g., Wikipedia, Intellipedia
- Blogging Sites – e.g., Blogspot, Blogster


Regulators care about what is being shared and where it can go once it leaves the creator’s fingertips. It’s about what you post AND where it ends up, geographically or demographically.


Why Social Media? ...

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Roche and Pfizer launch pharma's first official Google+ pages

Roche and Pfizer launch pharma's first official Google+ pages | Digital Pharma |
Pharmaceutical companies have started joining Google’s new social network with Roche and Pfizer the first to set up official Google+ presences.

Roche has two pages, a corporate and an HR one, while Pfizer’s Turkish subsidiary has set up a company page.


The social network was given a limited launch in July and fully opened for registrations in September. By October it had attracted 40m users, but has a long way to go to catch up with Facebook (800m users) or Twitter (225m).


Fake pages are already an issue on Google+ and Roche’s head of corporate internet and social media Sabine Kostevc explained that one of the reasons she set up Roche’s corporate page was to “reserve the space”.


She said: “I do not see our target audiences active on Google+, so I have no concrete plan on how to use it yet. From my personal point of view it is still very much in beta and a playground for techies and the social networking avant-garde.


“Google+ will most likely become an important factor for search engine ranking. But, given limited resources, I'm focusing for now on helping the organisation to engage on the networks where our audiences are.”


Over time use of Google+ is likely to increase due to the way the search giant can tie it together with its various online properties, which include the Gmail email service and video sharing site YouTube.

Google’s ‘real name’ policy could potentially give it an advantage over Twitter, though this doesn’t entirely guarantee the use of real names and has already been the cause of some controversy.

In July the company ruffled a few feathers when it shut down thousands of accounts because of what it saw as violations of its naming policy.


And pharma companies haven’t been immune to Google’s restrictions. When starting to register the page with the official company name "F. Hoffmann-La Roche", Roche had to try alternative spellings as the "F." and the hyphen in the company’s name failed to pass Google’s naming rules.


For now both Roche and Pfizer are only tentatively using Google+, as befits a still emerging social network, but already official pharma pages are outnumbered by fake ones.


These overwhelmingly target Pfizer, and one even cheekily suggests anyone interested in “aquiring” [sic] the page should contact its current owner.

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Boehringers Pharmaville could salve industrys bad reputation

Boehringers Pharmaville could salve industrys bad reputation | Digital Pharma |
Boehringer Ingelheim is hoping to create a new Facebook phenomenon with the development of a pharma civilization game. And while there's little doubt that the game, called Syrum, has the potential to provide BI with an effective new communications platform for diseases and brands, it could just help address the flagging reputation of the industry as a whole.


“The main objective is to create a kick-ass game, a proper game with a proper development cycle. I wanted to create something unique and different that people will love playing,” said John Pugh, head of online communications, who is spearheading BI's gaming charge. “It's about pharma and fun.” 


“This is not an oxymoron,” adds Pugh. “You can have the two in the same sentence.”

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Central and Eastern Europe: The Pharmaceutical Industry and Digital Engagement

Central and Eastern Europe: The Pharmaceutical Industry and Digital Engagement | Digital Pharma |

Other markets of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE – usually considered to comprise the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania and the Balkan countries of the former Yugoslavia) are less often considered as a separate entity – either they are added on to general European plans, or are linked with Russia as “former Communist countries”. However, individual consideration of these markets is warranted as they are a growth area for healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry.


Andrew Widger, Director, Media Relations EMEA at Pfizer, says he believes a local view is necessary when planning engagement in the CEE region:


“’With such diversity, the opportunities and challenges may be equally diverse. Network coverage, local regulations and restricted access to certain networks, literacy, language, cultural reference points – all these and more point to a need to approach opportunities with a local view.”


Social media usage in CEE...

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Novo Nordisk adds ebooks to patient support program

Novo Nordisk adds ebooks to patient support program | Digital Pharma |

Novo Nordisk is getting in on the boom in electronic publishing with a series of e-books available through its Cornerstones4Care patient support program.


The free five-volume series, compatible with all major e-readers and downloadable at, covers topics like carb counting, meal planning and maintaining a blood sugar diary.


The company cited Association of American Publishers data showing that as of February, e-books were the top-selling format among all categories of trade publishing, with sales on the rise.


“With an increasing demand for e-books, we saw an opportunity to share our existing diabetes education book series in a new and innovative format that meets the changing technology needs of today's patient,” said corporate VP, diabetes marketing Camille Lee. “By broadening the availability of the educational series, we hope that more patients willhave access to the resources they need to better manage their diabetes.”

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Using free Social Media tools to predict marketing trends

Using free Social Media tools to predict marketing trends | Digital Pharma |

In The Matrix, Keanu Reeve’s Neo uses, in the opening scenes of the film, a search algorithm to track down Morpheus and try to understand the reality of the eponymous matrix. It’s taken just twelve years for reality to catch up.


The idea that social media ‘noise’ and reaction may give rise to predictive trends which are more accurate than anything else we have is not new. Last year, in post on using Twitter to predict Oscar winners, I came pretty close to the actual results, predicting the eventual winner a day before the announcement, and I was not even concentrating very deeply in my search, nor did I have much available time to devote to it at the time.


Today, we surface to a reality where a supercomputer, fed sufficient social media data can predict global unrest, local revolutions and, presumably, market crashes. Kalev Leetaru, from the University of Illinois' Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Science, used a an SGI Altix supercomputer, known as Nautilus, based at the University of Tennessee to which it fed hundreds of millions of articles drawn from the world of news gathering and social media.

Via Andrew Spong
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Google to pay 500 million in online pharma ad settlement

Google Inc. has agreed to a $500 million payout to the US government, following a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation which found that Canadian pharmacies were illegally selling prescription drugs to American consumers via ads distributed by the search giant's advertising arm, Google AdWords.


The settlement, which represents one of the largest forfeitures of its kind in US history, resolves any forthcoming action by the DOJ to bring criminal charges against Google for allegations that the company improperly profited from the Canadian pharma ads which led to the illegal import of prescription pills into the US, according to Rhode Island attorney Peter Neronha.


“This investigation is about the patently unsafe, unlawful, importation of prescription drugs by Canadian on-line pharmacies, with Google's knowledge and assistance, into the United States, directly to U.S. consumers,” said Neronha in a DOJ statement. “It is about taking a significant step forward in limiting the ability of rogue on-line pharmacies from reaching U.S. consumers, by compelling Google to change its behavior. It is about holding Google responsible for its conduct by imposing a $500 million forfeiture, the kind of forfeiture that will not only get Google's attention, but the attention of all those who contribute to America's pill problem.”

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Special report: Pharma and social media

Special report: Pharma and social media | Digital Pharma |

In this special report, eyeforpharma examines the ways pharma can use social media to engage patients, customers, and payers...


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How We Did It: The Sanofi Open Innovation Challenge

How We Did It: The Sanofi Open Innovation Challenge | Digital Pharma |

Very interesting discussion at Social Media Week NY (Health & Wellness) [Video] > How We Did It: The Sanofi Open Innovation



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Industry group releases digital best practices

Industry group releases digital best practices | Digital Pharma |
Weary of FDA foot-dragging on digital and social media guidance for pharmas, a group of 60-some industry digerati have put together guidelines of their own.


The Digital Health Coalition (DHC) said its seven “Guiding Principles and Best Practices for Companies and Users” represents a consensus of the industry's top digital marketers. Questions of control over content—and when pharmas are responsible for correcting misinformation they find online—were the thorniest, said founder Mark Bard, and will be explored further by a working group.


“The definition of control has a fundamental impact on everything,” said Bard. “Everything cascades off that question of when control begins and ends.”


For now, the DHC presented the issue in principle No. 2: “Regulated healthcare companies are not responsible for user-generated content online that they do not control. Regulated healthcare companies are deemed to 'control' health and medical content if (i) it owns such health and medical content and has material editorial authority or (ii) it paid for the creation of such content and has material editorial authority over such content."

On the related issue of companies' obligations to correct misinformation, the DHC's principles say: “Regulated healthcare companies should endeavor to make reasonable efforts to correct misinformation that is factually incorrect.”


Though the document was conceived as an exercise in industry self-regulation, the group hopes it will inform FDA thinking on the topic.


“We know from conversations that it's very helpful to regulators to communicate what consensus thinking around topics is today,” says Bard, though noting that the DHC's best practices represent not official company policies but rather a sounding of top execs tasked with digital marketing and communications at pharmas.


The seven principles, said DHC's Joe Farris, “are a starting point. We don't view them as the holy grail of guidance. They're not the final document but a starting point from which to move the industry and the conversation further. We look forward to debating them and they're open to comment.”


The principles and best practices are as follows:


1) Regulated healthcare companies should endeavor to participate in social media as a means to promote public health, improve patient outcomes and facilitate productive patient/physician relationships.


2) Regulated healthcare companies are not responsible for user-generated content online that they do not control. Regulated healthcare companies are deemed to “control” health and medical content if (i) it owns such health and medical content and has material editorial authority or (ii) it paid for the creation of such content and has material editorial authority over such content.


3) Regulated healthcare companies have a responsibility to report adverse events they become aware of. Regulated healthcare companies should follow the existing adverse event reporting rules in place at the FDA.


4) Employees of regulated healthcare companies should disclose their material company relationship when posting comments/content or engaging in an online conversation relating to a company product or relevant healthcare issue.


5) Regulated healthcare companies should endeavor to respond to questions on sites they control within a reasonable period of time, and to implement reasonable measures to enable timely responses to crisis and emergency situations.


6) Regulated healthcare companies should endeavor to make reasonable efforts to correct misinformation that is factually incorrect.


7) Regulated healthcare companies should endeavor to appoint employee(s) tasked with the role of “patient liaison” focused on representing the best interests of the patient online.

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Non-branded digital resources are "strong drivers of action"

Non-branded digital resources are "strong drivers of action" | Digital Pharma |

Pharma-sponsored websites and mobile apps that provide disease information or management tools are strong drivers of action among patients, according to Manhattan Research.


The eHealth analysts found that 51 per cent of online US adults use pharma-sponsored digital resources, and a significant portion of these people - 43 per cent – subsequently discussed prescription drugs with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.


These sponsored resources include - unbranded as well as branded - condition and treatment information, disease management tools, doctor discussion guides or mobile apps or websites.


“Many patients are using digital tools and info provided by pharma companies and talking to providers as a result,” said Maureen Malloy, senior healthcare analyst at Manhattan Research. “At the same time, we see unmet demand for resources that help patients prepare for these conversations, representing a key opportunity for many brands.”


Use of such resources was particularly common among people suffering from a chronic condition, with 75 per cent of angina patients and 68 per cent of rheumatoid arthritis patients using pharma-sponsored digital resources.


Manhattan Research’s ePharma Consumer study surveyed 6,634 online consumers in the US aged 18 and over during the fourth quarter of 2011.


The study also found a strong level of backing for more pharma involvement in patient communities. Some 42 per cent of online adults thought pharma should be involved in internet communities, more than twice as many as the 19 per cent who disagreed with industry participation.

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iPad Apps: Are You Content with your Content?

iPad Apps: Are You Content with your Content? | Digital Pharma |
Pharma is not an industry known for launching headlong into new ideas and new ways of doing things—at least not without indulging in a considerable period of cautious study first. So its embrace of the iPad—both as a new sales tool and as a new way to communicate with and educate patients—stands out as somewhat anomalous. Granted, the sheer economic and cultural impact of the device, which was first released in April 2010, has been hard for any technologically focused industry to ignore: Apple sold 15 million iPads in the first nine months of launch. And its uptake among the medical profession has been particularly staggering. In May 2011, Manhattan Research reported that 30 percent of physicians in the U.S. already own an iPad, and this proportion will have already risen considerably, given that another 28 percent revealed they were planning to purchase one "in the next six months."

But recognizing the iPad as a phenomenon and making a quick decision to embrace the hardware is just the beginning. The iPad revolution brings with it a new challenge, that of effective content creation. And this is where pharma has sometimes come undone. "There seems to have been a race to get something out there for technology's sake," says David Ashley, head of digital marketing at UK agency Oi. "But a lot of agencies have designed apps for pharma that are really just converted PDF detail aids; they have very little functionality apart from a linear flow. The result is that there have been a lot of disappointed product managers out there."


David Hunt, digital director of Creative Lynx (UK), agrees: "By combining the innovation of the hardware with traditional marketing techniques we can deliver an engaging and compelling experience. A strong story and great creative blended with the features of the iPad delivers a truly immersive experience."


Grabbing Attention

Whether we are doctors or patients or just casual iPad users, we're all massively impatient when it comes to apps, Hunt reminds us. Unless we're immediately engaged by an app, we get rid of it. An app has to deliver immediate value. As soon as you download one, you need to know how to use it and how you're going to benefit from it.


There are companies that appear to be getting it right, however. Johnson & Johnson's psoriasis app for dermatologists and patients, which allows a quick and simple evaluation of the severity of their condition, has been averaging almost 60 downloads a day for well over a year. The reason for its success, explains Hunt, is that it is "pick-up-and-play, and immediately rewarding."


On the sales/CRM side, Abbott's pilot app, developed by Oi, was successful because it was a "real closed loop solution," says Ashley. In creating it, the agency went out with the sales reps to ascertain the various needs of the different clients: "It was a case of understanding that it wasn't a matter of delivering a PowerPoint solution. The rep wants something that supports his conversation."


This is a view supported by Neeraj Singhal, vice president of product strategy and innovation at Cegedim Relationship Management. Far from being a device to replace the sales rep, which has been one of the more hysterical reactions to the iPad, it serves to augment the relationship between reps and physicians. And the rep is more efficient in the relationship, says Singhal, when he has the right app.

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GE Healthcare's MIND campaign goes online for patients with neurodegenerative diseases

GE Healthcare's MIND campaign is going online to give those affected by neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia and parkinsonian syndromes a platform to share their stories.


MIND - Making an Impact on Neurodegenerative Diseases — is a global campaign initiated by GE Healthcare to identify gaps in current frameworks for the detection, diagnosis, and care of neurodegenerative disease, and to propose viable solutions. GE Healthcare is partnering with expert organizations and individuals around the world, initially focusing on France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, to drive policy to support patients, families, and caregivers affected by neurodegenerative disease, and to examine ways to reduce the cost of disease management.


Launched today, is asking people touched by neurodegenerative disease to share their stories and inform the campaign from the grassroots.


"People who are touched by these diseases are at the core of the MIND campaign and we want to hear from them about how these diseases have affected their lives," said Pascale Witz, President and CEO, GE Healthcare, Medical Diagnostics. "We are committed to improving things for patients and for caregivers, and will use our expertise and our voice to call on policymakers to act to alleviate the suffering caused by neurodegenerative disease."


"We are looking forward to working with GE Healthcare on the MIND campaign," said Marc Wortmann, Executive Director of Alzheimer's Disease International. "Together, we will find solutions that will positively impact the lives of millions of people living with the most prevalent forms of neurodegenerative disease."

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GE Gets Connected Health App Approval

GE Gets Connected Health App Approval | Digital Pharma |
There is no question that connected healthcare is in our future. The technology is certainly there, as evidenced by the growing number of smartphones and tablets being used in hospitals and physician offices. Unfortunately, the hurdle for most developers has been the regulatory approval process—a tedious but necessary process to get mobile medical technology off the design table and into the market.


As the industry continues to innovate, one of the main challenges for developers has been waiting for the FDA to figure out how it will apply its regulatory authorities to select software applications intended for use on mobile platforms. Needless to say, this is slowing an already slow approval process.


The industry is making headway, however. Last week, GE Healthcare,, announced it received FDA clearance for a technology that allows radiologists to remotely review diagnostic CT (computed tomography) and MR (magnetic resonance) images using their iPads or iPhones.


The Centricity Radiology Mobile Access 2.0 received clearance for primary diagnosis that accesses images and reports from Centricity PACS, GE’s picture archive and communication system. According to GE, this new mode of access removes a sizable productivity barrier for an increasingly mobile field.


Because the application was originally designed for the Apple iOS and Android frameworks, Woodlock says the system requires little training and “provides a more productive user experience versus an emulated Windows application that was designed to be driven by a mouse.”


In addition to diagnostic CT and MR images, the platform provides users with access to past exams. Patient privacy is protected, however, as medical professionals are not allowed to download any personal data to the client device. There are other fine print items as well: Diagnostic clearance is limited to computed tomography and magnetic resonance exams on an iPad or iPhone when not in proximity to a PACS workstation.

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Pharma on twitter: Neither lagging nor leading

Pharma on twitter: Neither lagging nor leading | Digital Pharma |

Twitter’s explosive growth continues in 2011, reaching 250 million tweets a day and over 100 million active users. This year, twitter has also become the leading social media platform during major global events and crisis: the Arab revolts, Ben Laden’s capture or the Tsunami in Japan, to just name a few. In light of this impressive growth and growing influence, many questions arise as to how to now integrate twitter into our portfolio of available media channels. It appears that twitter within just a few years has matured from a shiny new tool everyone experimented with to a new mass media outlet. An outlet with its own rules, dynamics and influencers. Most pharma companies have joined twitter by now, looking to profit from its fantastic immediacy and reach.


Despite this presence though, the long-standing perception that pharma’s adoption of social media is lagging behind has become a staple item in every debate on the topic. Somehow the social media adoption of the pharma industry just feels excruciatingly slow. Yet, we have no data to prove this gut feeling nor any clear definition on what constitutes a lag: Is pharma lagging behind twitter statistics in general or in comparison to other industries in particular? Is the lag in terms of joining and establishing a presence on twitter? Or is pharma rather lagging to reap the results of its efforts online in terms of attracting followers or receiving retweets and mentions? Or yet again is it a lag in the ability to interact and engage with stakeholders via twitter?


The aim of this post is to set the stage for the extensive benchmark we undertook of pharma twitter accounts and its followers (please see below). With a couple of quick “back of the envelope” analyses, we hope to establish some basis for comparison. For the purpose of the following analysis, “lagging” is defined as either having less followers or joining twitter later than the average user on twitter as well as companies in other industry sectors.


Let us start off with some basic comparisons...

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Digital Pharma: It's not about the brand website

Digital Pharma: It's not about the brand website | Digital Pharma |
The last few years have seen an explosion of interest in digital marketing in the pharma sector, reflecting the wider revolution brought about by sites like Facebook and Twitter, and mobile devices in the shape of smartphones and iPads.


But has marketing to pharma’s core audience of healthcare professionals really been revolutionised by digital media?


Beneath all the excitement and hype, the truth is that digital marketing has not claimed a significant part of pharma’s marketing budgets. This isn’t to say digital marketing hasn’t had a major impact, but neither has it become the dominant medium for marketing to doctors some had predicted. In terms of how much of the average marketing budget goes on digital, the total is surprisingly low.


Consultants Across Health conducted an annual survey of the sector’s digital landscape, seeking the views of nearly 200 European life sciences executives.


Lookingat marketing excluding sales expenditure, the survey found around 7% of the budget went on digital, with other estimates even lower at around 5 per cent.


Talking to a handful of leaders in the field, the message is clear - digital media has great potential to help pharma communicate with doctors and other health professionals, but this potential is currently often untapped because of a lack of understanding about how best to use it. Marketers need to build up a more sophisticated understanding of digital media in order to realise this potential.

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Social engagement, patient dialogue among reasons pharmas kept Facebook pages after open wall policy

After Facebook's decision on August 15 to enforce open walls on the social networking site's pharma pages, companies were left with two options: to close down their pages altogether, or to allow the public to openly comment on their products.


While the risky implications of the latter decision caused many a pharma to shutter their pages – including a Facebook page of Amgen's devoted to cancer drug Xgeva, and two Johnson & Johnson pages dedicated to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – several companies have decided to keep their pages open, despite the added possibilities for negative comments, or worse, consumer remarks about bad side effects or the promotion of off-label use, which could result in an adverse event report (AER) being filed with the FDA.


Brian Overstreet, president of AdverseEvents, Inc., a California-based service provider which focuses on AERs reported to FDA, surmises that since the level and quality of information that is typically posted to pharma Facebook walls doesn't meet criteria to report events, the biggest fear centers on negative user reactions to drugs.


“[Pharma companies] just don't have the resources to filter [walls] and have not been given guidance by FDA on how to deal with it,” Overstreet explains. “They are playing by an old set of rules in a new medium.”


As for the companies that continue to maintain pages, many do so to give patient communities the chance to have ongoing dialogue about the problems they are facing with their diseases or medical conditions. This route, of course, comes with vigilant monitoring and filtering of comments – via pharma company staff and in some cases third-party maintenance.


“We operate a system of post-moderation,” says Sue Silk, director, communications & public affairs for Europe, Middle East & Africa at Janssen, commenting on the pharma's monitoring of its Psoriasis360 Facebook page. “The comments are checked on a daily basis and the tool ‘conversocial' flags any new comments that appear on the site.”

Some companies, such as Boehringer Ingelheim and medical device company Zimmer, choose to monitor their pages manually, namely to encourage “best-in-class” social engagement, according to company reps.


While deleting comments happens on occasion, less likely has been the instance of AERs resulting from pharma Facebook comments. However, the likelihood of FDA outlining a standard set of guidelines for pharma social media anytime soon sparks Overstreet to add, “God knows if and when that will happen.”

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Roche launches firstever earlystage Alzheimers awareness website

Roche launches firstever earlystage Alzheimers awareness website | Digital Pharma |
To commemorate World Alzheimer's Day, today Roche has launched the first available website dedicated to early-stage (prodromal) Alzheimer's disease, called


According to Roche, the site, which caters to HCPs, patients and caregivers, was developed to draw attention to the latest progress in exploring the value of earlier diagnosis and treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Research has found that initial Alzheimer's symptoms can occur up to 12 years before diagnosis, which makes crucial the opportunity to recognize early-stage symptoms of the disease – such as significant memory loss and poor judgment and decision-making – so that therapeutic treatment may be administered before irreparable damage occurs.

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Pharmaceutical trust and online engagement

Pharmaceutical trust and online engagement | Digital Pharma |

During August 2011, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) made an announcement that they intend to open to the public the information that is currently held in their EudraVigilance and EudraVigilance Veterinary databases. Since launching in 2001, EudraVigilance has provided a mechanism for a variety of stakeholders to report suspected unexpected serious adverse reactions (SUSARs) which occur during clinical trials.


Open data for all

In a move which echoes other recent global ‘transparency’ initiatives (including various world governments producing open data repositories – see list here), a new and unprecedented level of medicinal product information will soon be available to anyone with an Internet connection.


Combined with the rise of the so-called ‘e-Patient’, an informed and empowered individual who wants to actively engage in their own health care, this announcement will mean new awareness of granular detail about the efficacy and potential side effects of pharmaceutical products; ordinarily confined to industry insiders, or aggregated and simplified for patient literature offline and online...

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