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.
Curated by Pharma Guy
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Women Lack Confidence Managing Chronic Conditions

Women Lack Confidence Managing Chronic Conditions | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

According to a recent study by West and Kelton Global, only about half (52%) of women with a chronic illness feel very confident in their ability to manage their chronic condition. Less than half (48%) say they're at least somewhat confident that they know what their current health metrics are, and just 28 percent are confident that they know what their target metrics should be. More than one-quarter (26%) of women feel that managing their condition is brining on stress and anxiety, which only exacerbates health challenges. Around 38 percent of women say they want more individualized care, including tips and tools specific to them.

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Patient Participation in Medical Product Discussions: Comments Submitted to Docket

Patient Participation in Medical Product Discussions: Comments Submitted to Docket | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |
  • Please see the comments of Hunter Syndrome Research Coalition and member organization Saving Case & Friends, Inc. in the attached PDF.

  • I am commenting about the impact FDA decisions make to me as a patient with type 1 diabetes and a provider of diabetes care. I am concerned about the wide range in glucose...

  • We thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments in response to Federal Register Notice FDA-2014-N-1698, FDA Activities for Patient Participation in Medical Product...

  • Involvement of the patient community in drug development is a worthy goal. I co-organized a Washington conference in 2013 called "Selling Sickness: People before profits" with the...

  • Dear FDA panel members, I come from the viewpoint of a Physician Assistant specializing in 11 of 14 years in OB/GYN with surgical experience. I have a very clear understanding of...

  • First off, I want to give FDA a BIG THANKS for its openness with the Diabetes Community in 2014. FDA opened a number of dockets for people with diabetes to comment on and we...

  • I attended the meetings on Female Sexual Dysfunction (October 27/28) as an observer. I was surprised to see that the majority of patient voices and the loudest expert voices all...

  • The Even the Score campaign is just propaganda. Sprout cannot try to make the case that 43% of women have a sexual dysfunction (which includes vaginal pain and vaginal dryness in...

Pharma Guy's insight:

"Have you ever wanted to be part of the food and drug regulatory process?," asks the FDA in its search for a Few Good Consumer Representatives to Serve on Advisory Committees; "Do you have a history of public interest or a passion for consumer advocacy? Do you have experience analyzing scientific data? If you answered “Yes,” here’s your opportunity to become an advocate for consumers!"

Also, read "The Power and the 'Science' of Patient Input"; 

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Article: Online e-Patient & Celebrity Patient Video Testimonials: Anecdotal Experience Marketing

Article: Online e-Patient & Celebrity Patient Video Testimonials: Anecdotal Experience Marketing | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |
This article asks the question: Can anecdotal 'evidence'/experiences mentioned in patient videos -- even unbranded videos -- cause unnecessary visits to the doctor's office and over prescribing of drugs with serious side effects?
Pharma Guy's insight:

Topics include (partial list):

  • Real Stories from Real Moms & Daughters
  • Symptoms & Undocumented Anecdotal Evidence
  • The Selling of ADHD and Ethics of Disease Awareness Advertising
  • Persuasive Celebrity Patient Video Testimonials
  • Overstating Efficacy
  • Declaration of Health Data Rights
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The Importance of the Talking (patient) Head in Healthcare Films

The Importance of the Talking (patient) Head in Healthcare Films | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

In the face of increasingly adventurous filmmaking techniques, it sometimes seems like the standard mid-chest-to-just-above-the-hair talking head is starting to lose its shine. Often seen as dull, predictable and unimaginative, many filmmakers will try and look for more ‘creative’ alternatives. Yet the talking head remains the workhorse shot of most current affairs, documentary and communications films and videos. But this shouldn’t come as a surprise…

First off, the talking head is a high value-for-money setup. For an in-home or in-office interview with a patient or a clinician you’re probably pressed for time, and there’s probably a lot of info you’re looking to get. Most talking heads can be set up in 10-20 minutes (plus, during this time the interviewer can get to know the interviewee, brief them and set them at ease) and are even quicker to pack up. In between, the interviewer can develop an interview uninterrupted. On almost any research or communications film shoot, this sort of bang-for-your-buck, or rather bang-for-your-minute, value isn’t to be overlooked.

Secondly, film generally communicates information best when it plays to the way we experience the world in daily life (or, in certain cases, when it actively subverts these expectations). And the talking head is a pretty solid approximation of how most people experience conversations: focused on the person they’re talking to, about far enough away to see them from mid-chest to the top of the face, with some peripheral awareness of the space behind and beside the speaker etc.  

Pharma Guy's insight:

I'm all in favor of heads. I use still photos of them to promote my AUDIO interviews of people on my BlogTalkRadio show -- see, for example, this promotion for  a recent show. But do I need to add video to make these shows more informative? I don't think so.

The author of this piece focuses on video techniques. He should talk more about emotions that can be better conveyed via facial expressions than through audio alone. Of course, interviewing emotionless people like physicians (or pharma marketing executives) is not worth the effort to do via video. It's real patients who will display the emotions that are important to capture through video.

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Fake patient story wins a real-life marketing award? Discuss

Fake patient story wins a real-life marketing award? Discuss | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV. That approach has put pharma in the doghouse before. But now, here's a new question. What about, "I'm not a patient, but I play one in a promo campaign for doctors"?

As the Pharma Marketing Blog reports, one of the few industry campaigns to snap up a gold Lion at the Lions Health ad festival this week was an Australian effort from McCann Health. Subject: Johnson & Johnson's  anti-inflammatory drug Simponi. Approach: patient storytelling, a big buzz-phrase these days in pharma advertising.

Thing is, the patient whose story features in the Simponi "Cate" campaign wasn't real. The story was a well-crafted visual narrative designed to show how easy it is for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers to dose themselves--something that's not pleasant for users of some RA therapies. And to illustrate how well it works, of course.

McCann described the video campaign--formed from hundreds of photographs--as a depiction of a month in the life of "a Simponi patient, Cate Jackson." Among those hundreds of pics, only one featured Cate injecting herself with Simponi, as a visual representation of how quick and simple it is. But as the Pharma Marketing Blog points out, there's a straightforward, discreet disclaimer at the end of that video. "This patient story is fictional. A model was used in the photographs."

Full disclosure. But is that enough? If drugmakers plan to rely on "patient stories" to illustrate various advantages of their products, do the stories need to be nonfiction--real, not imagined? Or can a visual metaphor like McCann's campaign, with its one actual treatment-specific shot, be perfectly valid if the patient doesn't exist?

No doubt a story would be more convincing if it is true, and we can envision drugmakers discrediting any fake narrative floated by a competitor. That's a PR problem in the making. But given all that DTC history of fake patients, one could make a case for "typical patient" stories. Either way, it sounds like a conundrum drugmakers need to address up front rather than risk being blindsided by criticism.

Ironically enough, a real patient's narrative picked up a Lion in Cannes this week, the blog post notes. But it was a bronze, not a gold.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Oh yes, there's a need to discuss this! I've pointed to this problem a number of times in the past. "Nobody Knows You're a Fake Patient on the Internet!" and "Alice, 35, is Not a Real Ambien CR Patient."

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Pharma’s Rep Among Patient Groups Sinks to Near Historical Lows

Pharma’s Rep Among Patient Groups Sinks to Near Historical Lows | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

For all the criticism that drug makers have endured in recent years, a new survey finds that they are faring worse than ever. Just 38 percent of patient groups thought the pharmaceutical industry had an “excellent” or “good” reputation last year, down from almost 45 percent in 2015 (read “Pharma's Rep Among Patient Groups at 4-Year High”;, according to PatientView, a research firm that canvassed more than 1,400 patient groups from 105 countries.


Not surprisingly, the pharmaceutical industry fares poorest when it comes to pricing.


Just 11 percent believe drug makers offer fair pricing, down from 15 percent two years ago and the lowest-ever ranking since the firm began this annual exercise in 2011. It is also worth noting that the measly 15 percent showing in 2015 was the best report card on pricing that the industry received over the past six years. In other words, patient groups have been especially unhappy about drug prices.


The patient groups were asked to assess 47 drug makers on seven traits: the extent to which the companies are focused on patients; the sort of information provided patients; patient safety; useful products; transparency; integrity, and the effectiveness of the relationships with drug makers.


For instance, 59 percent of patient groups said that drug companies were innovative, a notable drop from 69 percent in 2015 and the lowest showing since 2011. Similarly, 64 percent reported the industry makes “high quality, useful products,” down from 72 percent last year and barely exceeding the 63 percent lowest rating in 2012, which was the low point.


Further Reading:

  • Can You Trust Patient Rankings of #Pharma Corporate Reputation?; 
  • Americans Hate the #Pharma Industry Almost as Much as They Hate U.S. Gov't!; 
  • Italian edition: Corporate Reputation of Pharma in 2015 - the views of 67 Italian patient groups; 
  • 83% of Patient-Advocacy Organizations Receive Substantial Financial Support from the Drug Industry But Few Disclose How Much;

Pharma Guy's insight:

I've said that you can't trust the opinion of patient groups about the pharma industry - 88% receive money from the industry. I can't explain why all the charts dipped so dramatically in 2016 compared to 2015. There was plenty of bad press in 2015 and prior years. This survey was conducted from November 2016 to early-February 2017. Maybe it's a "Trump effect"? Or perhaps the drug industry "cut back" on the funds paid to these groups? - I read that somewhere - just 'kiddin' - I completely made that up. What? Didn't you see the air quotes?

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Typical #Pharma Method of Paying a Pittance for Real Patient Stories to Use in Marketing

Typical #Pharma Method of Paying a Pittance for Real Patient Stories to Use in Marketing | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Bayer goes Glamour-ous with 'Girls' star for new IUD campaign

Pfizer, Bayer contraceptive efforts target goal-seeking millennials with contests, scary survey.

Hey, young women: You have plans. Dreams. Goals. And by the way, getting pregnant unexpectedly could throw those visions for your future under the bus. That's the (implicit) message in several newly launched campaigns from Pfizer and Bayer Healthcare, including a pitch for Bayer's new device Skyla supported by a fellow millennial, the actress Zosia Mamet of "Girls" fame.

Bayer has teamed up with the women's magazineGlamour--and recruited the HBO series actress--for Skyla Make Your Mark, a contest to "celebrate the unique and brave things women are doing." Art, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, scholarship, research--heck, even mountain-climbing.

To enter, women submit essays and either photos or videos about the ways they're "making their mark," the company said in its announcement. Winners get a $5,000 grant and a trip to New York for the magazine's annual Women of the Year Gala. Skyla, of course, is one of Bayer's IUD brands.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Here's a classic example of how pharma marketers save money by hiring real patients to tell their stories: 

In 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer was about to air new Lipitor TV ads that feature a non-celebrity:

"The new television ad, set to debut Tuesday, features a testimonial from heart-attack survivor John Erlendson, a 58-year-old California talent agent. He didn't take a cholesterol-fighting drug before his heart attack last year despite a history of high cholesterol, and his ad urges people in similar situations to be more proactive." (See "Pfizer Drops Celebrity Pitch in New Lipitor Spots").

According to the WSJ article, Erlendson will be paid "a union scale rate," as opposed to $1.35 million that Pfizer paid Dr. Robert Jarvik for Lipitor ads that he famously appeared in (see "Jarvik: A Modern DTC Tragedy").

For "on-camera principals," the rate is $567.10 (not including an $83.93 pension contribution).

Doing the math, Pfizer will save $1,349,432.90 using Erlendson vs. Jarvik! 

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Shire to pay $56.5 million to settle improper marketing probe

Shire to pay $56.5 million to settle improper marketing probe | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Shire Plc, which is in the process of being acquired by AbbVie Inc, has agreed to pay $56.5 million (34.5 million pounds) to resolve allegations of making false claims in themarketing of its ADHD drug Adderall XR and other medicines, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday.

The settlement involved charges that Ireland-based Shire, between January 2004 and December 2007, promoted its extended release Adderall with claims of superiority over rival medicines that were not supported by clinical data, the Justice Department said.

The company was also accused of promoting the drug for unapproved uses and of making other false claims not supported by data, such as that Adderall XR would prevent poor academic performance, loss of employment, criminal behaviour, traffic accidents, and sexually transmitted disease.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Meanwhile, you might like to read how Shire marketing is "reeling" in parents and children to consider ADHD treatment: 

Are Patient Stories Becoming Anecdotal "Evidence" in Pharma Marketing Campaigns?
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Rich Meyer: Drug companies should build their own online communities

Rich Meyer: Drug companies should build their own online communities | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |
Can we establish an online community in drug marketing ?

The answer to that is YES.  I did when I worked at Eli Lilly and was in charge of marketing for Sarafem back in 2002.  We allowed people to post their experiences around PMDD but the posts would not go live until they were reviewed by my MLR team. Because of the importance of woman sharing their experiences my MLR team was able to approve the posts within 48 hours and we had a disclaimer that we could edit the post to eliminate not approved FDA claims.

In the first week alone we had almost 300 posts and 99% of them were positive with women sharing their experiences around PMDD and how it affected their lifestyles.  Not only were women sharing their experiences, but in a follow up survey, we found that close to 70% had asked their doctor about Sarafem. This was key because a lot of physicians did not believe that PMDD was a “medical condition” but once we shared the posts from women they quickly became believers.

Pharma Guy's insight:

I appreciate Rich's comments, but he cites old experiences with an online pharma discussion forum. This highlights the fact that the drug industry used to sponsor several of these patient discussion groups in the past -- see, for example, Question Everything --

 but no longer do so. Why not?

Today, there are many more online options available to consumers/patients for discussing their medical conditions and seeking advice from peers. Why would they choose to do this on a pharma site? 

My view is that pharma's reputation has eroded rapidly in the past 10 years (read, for example, the articles in the Pharma Marketing Ethics & Corporate Reputation Compendium). That means, all other things being equal, consumers will opt not to trust pharma and especially not trust whatever is said on a pharma-sponsored site even if it is supposedly from a legitimate patient. Remember, nobody knows you're a dog on the Internet and nobody knows when pharma creates artificial patients to tell positive stories about their products; see, for example, Fictional Patient Story Wins Gold, Whereas Authentic Patient Story Wins Bronze at Lions Health 2014

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PatientsLikeMe Launches New Services That Make Patients Partners in Medical Research | PatientsLikeMe

PatientsLikeMe Launches New Services That Make Patients Partners in Medical Research | PatientsLikeMe | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

PatientsLikeMe has unveiled a suite of services for pharmaceutical companies that allows them to collaborate with patients on the design of clinical trials and other research.

The new services were launched as results from a March 2014 survey of PatientsLikeMe members reveal just how broken the trial process is, and how eager patients are to help fix it. Members were asked about their attitudes toward, experiences with and criteria for participating in clinical trials. Of 1,621 survey respondents:

  • One out of three (31%) reported having previously been invited to learn about a clinical trial, and 62% of that group participated in one.
  • Of those participating in a trial, one in five (20%) were “slightly” or “not at all” satisfied with their experience.
  • An overwhelming majority (93%) said they would be willing to help researchers design better trials.
  • Regarding future participation, 88% said they would like to learn more about clinical trials, while 80% indicated they would like to take part in a trial within the next 12 months.

PatientsLikeMe announced three services at DIA:

  • Trial Access, which allows pharmaceutical companies to develop and deploy custom research programs that gather meaningful data and feedback on the design of their clinical trials. Trial Access also includes review of an expanding repository of patient opinions and attitudes about participating in clinical trials. Once the trial protocol is finalized, companies can run outreach and referral programs to raise awareness and recruit for their trial among PatientsLikeMe’s members, a highly effective service that PatientsLikeMe’s top pharmaceutical clients have used since 2008.
  • Community Access, which pairs researchers with PatientsLikeMe scientists and patient engagement experts to build open, online registries for research to gain insights from patient-reported data that can be shared across the organization.
  • Access Services, which allows companies to quickly collect and analyze real world data to generate statistically robust and scientifically credible patient outcome research, and determine the impact of new wearable and consumer-oriented health devices and sensors on clinical development and commercialization.

Pharma Guy's insight:

"An overwhelming majority (93%) said they would be willing to help researchers design better trials." Supposedly this would be offered under "Trial Access." How likely will it be that pharmaceutical companies will actually "gather meaningful data and feedback on the design of their clinical trials"? Isn't this the same as having open discussions with patients on social media? And wouldn't pharma companies be shy to do this lest they gather up too much adverse events to contend with? I just don't see that aspect of the program working. Consequently, 93% of patients n PatientsLikeMe will be disappointed when their opinions are NOT actively sort after by pharma companies!

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