Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Lions Health Awards Jury President Thinks "Smelly Fish" Award was "Charming" & "Best We Could Do"!

Lions Health Awards Jury President Thinks "Smelly Fish" Award was "Charming" & "Best We Could Do"! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Alexandra von Plato is serving as this year's Lions Health pharma jury president, leading a group of industry creative leaders judging the pharma category. She is group president of North America for the Publicis Healthcare Communications Group.

But be warned, pharma: Von Plato served as a juror the first year that the Cannes Lions festival held Lions Health — the same year that the jury declined to award the top prize in the pharma category over concerns that the submitted work wasn't worthy of a Grand Prix.

Here, von Plato talks to Jaimy Lee, executive editor at MM&M, about why it's wrong to compare the pharmaceutical industry to Skittles and why she expects to see more risk-taking in this year's creative work.  

There was some critical talk about last year's Grand Prix winner, Take It From a Fish. Why do you think that was?

Von Plato: I thought it was a very charming and disarming way to make people care about a subject matter that is quite mundane, which is triglycerides. In that regard, it was notable work because they took a tact that was designed to disarm people's resistance to a boring subject. In the scheme of how important this industry is and the importance of the work it does, it felt a little trivial. When we're giving a Grand Prix, in the pharmaceutical industry that makes medicine for sick people, it's not a stretch to come up with talking fish for fish oil. The overall feeling was: It was the best we could do, so they gave it a Grand Prix. The year I judged, in 2014, we didn't award a Grand Prix. That campaign for fish oil was good but the sense was [that] it wasn't Grand Prix worthy.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Fish or no fish, this year's Grand Prix Award may be just as bad as last year's. For more on that, read: "Will New Cannes Lions Health Pharma Ad Prizes Be as Smelly as Last Year's Fish?"; http://sco.lt/5bGCZ7

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▶ Fishy #Pharma Ad Campaign Is Contender for Grand Prix Award at Cannes Lions Health

According to MM&M, about 80 entries were shortlisted in the pharma category at Lions Health creativity festival, including 19 entries from US agencies.


The awards will be announced later today at the second annual Lions Health, a two-day event that kicks off today in advance of the Cannes Lions festival. 


DigitasLBI in New York is only US agency to have three entries shortlisted for AstraZeneca's disease-education campaign “Take it from a Fish,” which includes integrated digital campaign, digital and direct and promotional and activation. AstraZeneca received FDA approval last year for Epanova, a prescription fish-oil pill.

Pharma Guy's insight:


Yikes! Is this the height of pharma advertising creativity?


Agencies are closely watching the pharma category after last year's jury declined to award a Grand Prix, the event's top prize, to a pharma entry. However,  a Fictional Patient Story Won Gold, Whereas Authentic Patient Story Won Only Bronze at Lions Health 2014.

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Omega3 drugs Recruit Pawn Stars & Fish for DTC Campaigns

Omega3 drugs Recruit Pawn Stars & Fish for DTC Campaigns | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
Celebrity endorsement, copay cards and online edutainment are some of the ways marketers are dueling for attention in the prescription omega3 space.


Amarin is poised to announce a celebrity tie-in with cable-TV star Rick Harrison (host of the showPawn Stars) as part of an integrated campaign to boost awareness of its one-year-old Vascepa brand. And AstraZeneca, whose prescription omega-3 drug Epanova is a relative newcomer, recently launched an unbranded, digital edutainment effort. 


Amarin's partnership with Harrison, who was diagnosed with the condition, works the correlation between knowing trig-treatment facts and not being hoodwinked in his own pawn shop.


“If I hadn't checked with my doctor, I would have made the mistake many make, thinking dietary supplement omega-3s are actually over-the-counter drugs,” Harrison says in a video on the related site LowerMyTrigs.com, adding that Pawn Stars teaches that “knowing what's valuable and authentic is important to success.” 


Meanwhile, in a campaign that takes its cue from the aquatic theme of DTC advertising done by GlaxoSmithKline's Lovaza—but also departs from it—AZ posted three videos as part of an unbranded consumer effort called “Take it From a Fish.” The videos, dubbed “Love,” “Diet” and “Tri,” take the viewer into the seafood section of the grocery store as two talking fish carry on a casual conversation about healthy eating habits.


Pharma Guy's insight:


Doesn't Harrison often ask his dad about "what's valuable and authentic" on the Pawn Stars show?


As far as I am concerned, these Rx drugs are "me-too" versions of existing over-the-counter dietary supplements, no  matter what Harrison might say about Vascepa


Read my take on the comments made by Harrison: 

Did Pawn Star Rick Harrison Ask His Daddy About the Value of Vascepa Omega-3 Fish Oil?
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Like 3-Day Old Fish, AZ's Take it From a Fish Campaign Had Bad Taste

Like 3-Day Old Fish, AZ's Take it From a Fish Campaign Had Bad Taste | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

AstraZeneca has suspended its Take it From a Fish campaign, taking down the online creative for a campaign that won the top prize at the 2015 Lions Health festival in Cannes, France.

The campaign website, TakeiItfromafish.com, the YouTube videos, and the Twitter feed and TakeItFromAFish.com website are all now inactive.

The unbranded campaign featured two dead talking fish, Sal and Marty, who discussed lowering their triglyceride levels amid jokes about their relationships, eating habits, and big-screen star quality.

“The Take It From A Fish campaign was an innovative pre-launch and non-branded marketing effort that has recently been discontinued,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson said in an email.

Take It from a Fish was the first campaign to win a Pharma Grand Prix at the Lions Health, the healthcare segment of the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, held each June. Rob Rogers, co-CEO of the Americas for Sudler & Hennessey and the 2015 jury president, last year described the campaign as “an example of a traditionally conservative client doing something really groundbreaking.”

By most industry standards, the campaign was successful. Within three months, there was an 11% increase in searches for high triglycerides and the Twitter feed had the fourth highest follower count among pharmaceutical brands, DigitasLBi claimed.

At the same time, industry executives say it's relatively uncommon for companies to take creative work offline even if it was designed to support an unbranded marketing campaign. Drugmakers traditionally launch unbranded campaigns before moving forward with branded efforts.

There are a handful of reasons why a drugmaker might choose to remove creative content for an unbranded program. One unnamed executive wondered if the removal of the Take It From a Fish creative was more a question of corporate concern about “taste and tone” or if the outcomes of additional clinical trials for other indications were not as promising as initially hoped. Another said that certain pre-launch communications must be amended to promote a product in a branded environment.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Personally, I never saw what was creative about Abbott and Costello channeled as dead fish.

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Fish Oil Claims Not Supported by Research

Fish Oil Claims Not Supported by Research | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
The vast majority of clinical trials have found no evidence that fish oil supplements lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.


From 2005 to 2012, at least two dozen rigorous studies of fish oil were published in leading medical journals, most of which looked at whether fish oil could prevent cardiovascular events in high-risk populations. These were people who had a history of heart disease or strong risk factors for it, like high cholesterol, hypertension or Type 2 diabetes.


All but two of these studies found that compared with a placebo, fish oil showed no benefit.


And yet during this time, sales of fish oil more than doubled, not just in the United States but worldwide, said Andrew Grey, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and the author of a 2014 study on fish oil in JAMA Internal Medicine.


“There’s a major disconnect,” Dr. Grey said. “The sales are going up despite the progressive accumulation of trials that show no effect.”

Pharma Guy's insight:


The pharmaceutical industry is often criticized for developing new Rx drugs having little value over current medications. Such drugs are called "me-too" drugs because of their similarity to existing Rx drugs. Glaxo has now taken this to a completely NEW level: developing an Rx drug that is a "me-too" of existing over-the-counter dietary supplements. I am talking about LOVAZA, aka omega-3-acid esters approved by the FDA for the treatment of high triglycerides.

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