S&R Blog


It’s Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile!

In its heyday, GM developed an advertising campaign for their Oldsmobile brand in an attempt to sway younger buyers.  Oldsmobile had been a long standing success for GM among middle-aged and older buyers, but they wanted younger customers. So they came up with a new campaign, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”, which spoke to the innovation, sleek styling and sex-appeal that an Oldsmobile could provide.

At the risk of sounding like my own father, I have concluded that doing business today is a lot like that now-famous Oldsmobile campaign.  Doing business today is not based on the practices I was taught to honor, respect and hold sacred.  In fact, today’s business world is quite like the Wild West—plenty of outlaws, snake-oil peddlers and people looking to be the “biggest gun in town”.

The first difference I find is the ability to take people at their word.  With all the muttered promises, downright lies and “handshake” deals that frankly are not worth a damn, you simply can’t do that anymore.  Could it be a generational gap? New generational values? Or am I becoming an old fart?  It almost doesn’t matter, because when you are unable to trust people to do what they say, something is wrong.  Taking people at their word should mean that there is an understanding between two people that certain expectations will be met.

The second difference is a growing inability to conduct business on a face-to-face basis.  As I compose this blog on my computer, check my smart phone for text, e-mail messages, check my voice-mail and find comfort and safety behind my computer screen, I understand where some of the problem resides.  The ability to engage people in a “live conversation”, either face-to-face, via the phone or via virtual meeting technology is increasingly more difficult.  But I simply can’t think of many successful personal or business relationships I have had where I wasn’t able to interact with people “live”.  Really, how can you build trust and understanding when you have to submit proposals and information via a “blinded web portal”?

The final difference is the “it ain’t grown here” mentality.  My business, in great part, depends on selling ideas, creativity and high-quality implementation of those ideas.  Yet it often feels like that is not what our clients really want.  The typical interaction with our clients is often very one-sided: the client says, “We want an electronic sales program that looks like this and says this, and we need a price for that by tomorrow afternoon.”  Now, some of you reading this might ask, “What’s wrong with that?”

What’s wrong is that it may not be true that an electronic sales program is the correct solution to the problem they are trying to solve.  What has been lost is the long-term strategy (translation: today’s stock share-price) that’s critical to the process and driven by the following key questions: What do your client’s customers really want?  How should you create messages and images that ensure your customers understand and accept your brand?  What media will best reach the demographics of your target audience?

If the above are, in fact, the hallmarks of business practices in the future, so be it.  I personally don’t agree with doing business in these ways—but then everyone has their own opinion (and orifice).  It’s just that when you can’t trust people, interact with them on a face-to-face basis and expect them to have an open mind on how they manage their business, it, doesn’t bode well for the future.

So, with that in mind and that said, I think I will change my Depends, wipe the drool from my chin, sit on the front porch of the assisted-living center and try to find some Oldsmobile ads in the magazine I am reading.

David H. Recht

CEO North State Resources
Holding company for S+R Medical Communications



What do physicians really think about Big Pharma?

According to Dr. Candida Fink’s latest blog post on PsychCentral, not highly. In what clearly wasn’t a good year for pharma in terms of reputation, Dr. Fink highlights why she will “no longer see any drug reps.”

I didn’t want to hear from them, and I haven’t since. I avoid lectures and meetings that drug companies sponsor, and I use no drug company pens or notepads. The longer I avoid direct contact with drug company reps, the better I feel about it. The further removed I am from these things the more I realize I was getting a lot of my information about medications from company reps who had vested interests in my using their product. I realized that I don’t need samples, because the companies give samples only of their newest products, and those don’t have the research or track records that the older products have. Furthermore, the older products are now available as generics, which ultimately save my patients far more money than they save by taking a few free samples and then paying for the priciest, newest product.

Obviously, this is the opinion of one physician, but the points Dr. Fink brings up about her disdain for pharmaceutical marketing tactics have been echoed more than once lately. So if not from pharma companies, where would physicians get their information about products? According to Dr. Fink,”That isn’t to say I don’t keep informed and try new products that are appropriate for certain patients, but I do so based on research and my patients’ needs, not who bought me lunch last week.”

Samples, proper medical education, and other informative materials should be needed to help improve patient outcomes. But physicians seem to be turning their heads the other way.  If pharma doesn’t heal the wounds and restore the trust with physicians, credibility will be the least of its problems. What do you think?

Read Dr. Fink’s post here.



More transparency issues with Big Pharma

The internet was blazing hot yesterday and today about the latest, in now an ever-growing list of transparency issues with Big Pharma and blockbuster drugs. The latest victim – Roche’s Tamiflu. According to a recent analysis published by the British Medical Journal, it was concluded that Tamiflu had  “modest effectiveness” against the symptoms of the flu in otherwise healthy adults — cutting symptoms by about a day.

The report, an update of a 2005 analysis by Cochrane Collaboration, excluded eight studies funded by Roche that haven’t been published and whose full data wasn’t given to the researchers. The exclusion reversed the group’s earlier finding that Tamiflu protects against complications.

The report raises questions about how drugs are reviewed, approved and distributed, Fiona Godlee, the British journal’s editor in chief, wrote in an editorial. The studies originally used to establish the benefits of Tamiflu were written by Roche employees and paid consultants, under-reported serious side effects and failed to clearly identify all the authors, she wrote. In at least one case, a study was attributed to a researcher who disavowed any involvement to the journal, Godlee wrote.

Follow the story here:

Bloomberg

Gaurdian

Financial Times

Reuters



Who will lead pharma back to a constructive, trusting, and value-based industry?

The “conspirators” have been revealed—the  Pharmageddon2012 “conspirators” that is.  This past week, the November issue of MedAd News broke a story on Pharmageddon2012 and the people behind the scene—S+R Medical Communications (SRMC) and Friday Morning.

For those of you who have not taken the time to check out Pharmageddon2012, this multifaceted website uses a variety of social media outlets to carefully and anonymously describe what we believe is the pharma industry’s greatest problem—the breakdown of communication and trust between physicians and the industry.

The site, describes the issues and problems that exist but what it doesn’t address is the passion, belief, and attitude of those people at SRMC and Friday Morning who have to live and deal with the implications of what Pharmageddon2012 represents. You must admit a campaign like Pharmageddon2012 could be risky for a business that that has spent over 18 years enabling and helping our pharma clients devise the very same communication pieces and strategies that we believe contributed to the demise of physician trust.

However, we also believe that someone needs to lead the charge for change and why shouldn’t it be SRMC and Friday Morning? We spent the last 10 years closely watching, listening, and seeing firsthand the strategies and tactics that led to the mistrust problems. We were frustrated and angry about the situation, and we struggled to understand what new strategies and solutions we might incorporate into our business model. The end objective is to help us build our success—and, equally as important, that of our clients.
To that end, we must help clients find ways to restore physician confidence AND improve patient outcomes.

So while we are willing put our collective necks on the line, the real question is which pharma companies will be the first to understand and see the need for communicating with physicians in a different way? Which companies will choose to use educational programming that is needs-based? Are you, as a pharma marketer, willing to use total transparency and clarity as you describe ALL of the important aspects of how your brand is best used? When a physician asks, “Which of my patients are specifically and best suited for what your product does?” what will your sales force say? How will you provide educational and promotional programs that allow your sales force to bring value and relationship building to every sales call?

Is YOUR pharma company willing be a leader and change the pharma/physician communication model back to a constructive, trusting, value-based relationship? Do you believe that you can participate in this change process and at the same time positively impact your brand’s financial achievements? It’s tough to be a leader and to stand out from the crowd. But in fact, that is the opportunity that is before us right now.

If you have the same passion and spirit for this issue as we do, if your brain and heart tell you it is time to do it differently, please contact me. I can show you how we can work together to put our industry, your company, and your products back on a more productive, positive path.

Sincerely,
Dave Recht
CEO, North State Resources, Inc.
davidr@northstateresouces.com



If you don’t think there is a trust issue in pharma, then you haven’t seen this

What needs to be done? Start here.



Augmented reality + mobile + pharma = bright future

Coming to a mobile phone (Android and iPhone) near you, in the not so distant future, is the world’s first Augmented Reality Browser – Layar. Layar is a free application for your mobile phone, which shows what is around you by displaying real time digital information on top of reality through the camera of your mobile phone.

Layar is derived from location based services and works on mobile phones that include a camera, GPS and a compass. By looking through the phone’s camera lens, a user can see houses for sale, popular bars and shops, jobs, etc. I can see a world of opportunity for the healthcare industry, especially for providers and physicians. What do you see?



Calling all pharma marketers… the FDA wants to hear from you!
June 4, 2009, 1:22 pm
Filed under: pharmaceutical marketing | Tags: , , , , ,

In pharmaceutical advertising, we find ourselves in a state of constant regulation as everyone tries to ensure each piece created meets FDA requirements. This struggle between advertising the benefits of a drug and satisfying the necessity to indicate the risks (in increasingly larger quantity and size) is one we face daily. With the recent release of the draft form of Guidance for Industry Presenting Risk Information in Prescription Drug and Medical Device Promotion , a set of non-binding recommendations for print and broadcast promotion, the FDA is attempting to help us along. The stated goal of the draft guidance is to clarify the factors the FDA considers in evaluating ads and promotional labeling for prescription drugs and restricted medical devices.

Overall, the FDA is clarifying the presentation of risk information so that it is equivalent to the presentation of benefit information, which is nothing new. But they are doing this by including more detail and examples. Their examples and occasionally vague language indicate how tricky this situation can be, not only for advertisers but also for the people doing the regulating.

One of the most exciting aspects of the draft guidance is the fact that the FDA will be accepting comments and suggestions for a 90-day period. Though no one can say for sure if the FDA will implement the suggested changes they receive, now is the time to review these draft recommendations and share your thoughts. If you think the examples they provide are not sufficient, you should request more, better examples. If you think their recommendations aren’t practical, you should tell them that and explain why. Maybe they’ll agree. We now have the opportunity to perhaps gain some control over a situation that affects pharmaceutical companies and advertisers daily. We shouldn’t let that opportunity pass without at least trying to make a difference.

Comments and suggestions can be submitted until August 24, 2009. Be sure to include the docket number, FDA-2008-D-0253, from the notice of availability that came out on May 27, 2009.

Send comments to
Division of Dockets and Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852