Opening Up About New Drug Formulations

Recently I had the privilege of creating sales rep training content for a product that’s just about to launch. This new formulation of an old drug has the potential to be very helpful to patients young and old due to its advantages of dosing and convenience.

The reps who were hired to communicate with doctors about this new product were actual vacuum cleaner salespeople up until this year. They’re about to step into the daunting world of healthcare and talk to medical professionals about why they should consider this product for their patients. I raise my glass to them. Hopefully I’ve provided them with all the information they’ll require to understand the existing patient need and explain the solution provided by this product.

Little differences in a drug’s formulation, which is what these reps will be discussing, may seem like a small thing to many people. In fact, sometimes these new products are demonized by the media as frivolous wastes of healthcare investment. What good, they ask, is a new pill that lasts a few hours longer when people are dying of terrible diseases? Isn’t that where pharma profits should be directed?

Wouldn’t it be great if there were more voices in the media supplying examples of patients and families who greatly benefited when a grandmother’s reduced pill burden helped to prevent missed doses? Or when a liquid formulation helped a child who had trouble swallowing pills? Or when a formulation with more stable kinetics prevented the loss of a transplanted organ? Wouldn’t many people respond to a message like this in a positive way? The public may begin to have a better understanding of the challenges and decision-making processes within the pharmaceutical industry if such matters are communicated appropriately and effectively.

I’m not sure if or when the mass media will allow our industry the bandwidth to discuss the importance of new formulations in a nation where every healthcare dollar is so closely scrutinized and pharmaceutical companies are so deeply mistrusted. But as medical communicators, we have an opportunity to help both doctors and patients understand what our clients are doing to improve people’s lives in small but valuable ways, as well as in large and obvious ways. For certain patients, the value of a new form of an old drug can be immeasurable. Even more than a new vacuum cleaner.

 

 

SCOTT SALSMAN

 Associate Scientific Director, Scientific and Medical Strategy
Details guy. Soccer dad. Rock 'n' roller.

11 hours, 50 influencers, 1 #SMDayPHL

 

Sitting on the parkway, the Franklin Institute has been one of Philadelphia’s most beloved attractions, teaching kids and adults alike about advances in science and technology for nearly 300 years. It almost seems too perfect that Social Media Day Philadelphia 2016 takes place in a building so rich with stories of innovators. After 11 hours of learning from a variety of 50 speakers and panelists at this sold out event, here are the main takeaways for the pharmaceutical industry:

  • The magic formula for social media is to be both entertaining and educational with the goal to provide value to the customer at all levels of engagement.

 

  • It’s important to humanize brands because while people are relatable, companies are not

 

  • With healthcare social media, the stakes are much higher than regular social media. We’re helping people make critical choices about their health.

 

  • Regardless of your industry, your customer is on social in some way. You will always lose the game if you don't play.

 

  • Make the experience as easy as possible for your audience and customer. As a generation’s values shift, the format we use to connect with them must change.

 

At DUSA, we face the challenge of being creative while being compliant. It is up to us to get our clients innovating on social media to further progress the conversations between brands and consumers.

 

ATHENA YU

Social Media Specialist
Whittler of wood. Dangerously curious. Master of the art of the handshake.

Beyond "Sound Science"

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Junk science” and “sound science” are two phrases often used in contrast with varied definitions depending on where you look and who you talk to. But what do they mean to us, as healthcare marketers?

“Sound science”, when used by scientists or medical professionals, describes robustly supported science, often confirmed by multiple peer-reviewed studies. On the other hand, data that is cherry picked and analyzed to suit a particular agenda is often described as junk science. It’s a pervasive issue, manifesting in media, government, courtroom and marketing environments alike. Junk science may utilize scientifically sound sources, but science becomes much less sound when it’s used selectively or manipulated to generate over-inflated claims.

Take for example a recent study published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrinology that has been touted by reporters as good evidence that drinking water from plastic water bottles could fuel obesity. In this study, a human cell model was used to test the effects of BPS (one of the replacement chemicals used in consumer products that are marketed as BPA-free). Researchers observed that exposure of human cells to BPS induced lipid accumulation and increased the levels of markers of fat cell formation. This study takes a great initial step toward sorting out the potential impact of BPS exposure on the human body, but in actuality, data on the effects of BPS are relatively sparse and we are certainly a far cry from being able to draw any meaningful connections between BPS exposure and actual weight gain.

At DUSA, we offer our clients “deep science” and I’ve struggled in the past with what that promise really means. What’s the alternative? Shallow science? It’s clear to me now, however, that junk science is the undesirable alternative.

We use scientific data as a foundation for telling a particular story about a product and ensure that we are always relying on sound scientific sources to craft our messages. But I like to think that deep science means that we go beyond just making sure that our sources are sound. We go beyond verifying accuracy to evaluate the big picture and to dig until we find the root of the evidence. Because without this deep understanding of a product’s scientific foundation, light might not be shed on new perspectives – perspectives that help us ensure we are telling the right story and allow us to better partner with our clients in strengthening a brand’s voice. 


MEGAN DOYLE

Scientific Director
Learning enthusiast. Detail specialist. World class juggler...of life's responsibilities

Lady Godiva: A Long-Lost Relative Returns

My brother recently discovered that we are related to Countess Godifu (aka, Lady Godiva). Through genealogical records, he determined she is our great grandmother to the 23rd power.

Clearly I never knew Grandma Godiva, but I take great pride in knowing that I am related to such a generous and courageous woman. The historical accounts of her life and legend are inconsistent. The one constant is her naked ride through Coventry, England in exchange for the repeal of a taxation that would leave many of the citizens with little money for food.  “If we pay the tax, we will starve,” the town’s people cried in protest.

With Lady Godiva’s constant pleading to end the unfair tax, her husband, Lord Leofric (Earl of Mercia), gave her an ultimatum for which I’m sure he thought would end the conversation forever.  He promised to end the tax if she would ride naked through the town square. She took him for his word and did just that dressed in nothing but her long hair.

Of course, before she set out on her ride, Lady Godiva requested that all citizens stay at home with shutters drawn on that day. They were not to peek out their windows as she sacrificed her dignity on their behalf. But, men being men, one could not resist a peek. Yes, that would be Peeping Tom. Although he did not enter the historical accounts of that day until much later, some say that he immediately went blind and some say that he died as a result of his voyeurism.

But, back to my point.

Following the ride through town, Lord Leofric kept his promise and ended the taxation. Lady Godiva had done her part to “better the world.” Her act of kindness has inspired me to think about how I can “better the world.”  Truth is, I don’t think I can repeal unfair taxation nor do I expect to inspire a chocolate company, but extending at least one act of kindness every day can potentially have far-reaching effects.

I can only imagine how grateful the people of Coventry were when Lady Godiva saved them from poverty and peril. That is, except for old Tom who probably wished that Lady Godiva had not revealed her kindness and generosity on that infamous day.


LESA HOLMES

Senior Medical Writer
Believer in "The Science," word aficionado, dedicated Chicago resident


Improv and the Office: The Power of "Yes, And..."

Like almost every other living human, I have a fear of public speaking. Picturing the audience in its underwear freaks me out even more, so last year I decided it was time to turn to the professionals: the improvisational instructors at Chicago’s The Second City.

After graduating from the program, I discovered that I not only had the BEST time performing, but my initial goal of being more comfortable public speaking (note: not completely comfortable, because I don’t think that will ever happen) was attainable! With my fears lessened, I also honed a whole slew of other skills that have helped me everyday, especially in the workplace.

Openness to new ideas

Improv is all about being open to any idea, whether you’re comfortable with it or not, and creating something awesome with it. The idea of “yes, and”-ing any and all ideas creates an atmosphere of fluidity and trust that allows for the most amazing things to happen. If someone calls you a 16-year-old Valley Girl, you say “yes” in your brain to agree to the scene choice “and” then start professing your love of malls and using “like” every other word. The “and” opens the scene up infinitely to explore back-stories, scene partner relationships and any other development idea – no suggestion is ever rejected.

I think one of the worst traits in person (you know, other than a propensity for homicide) is someone who is closed off. Whether it’s closed off emotionally, intellectually or socially – it’s all incredibly disappointing. When sitting in a meeting discussing a potential project, the worst thing a coworker could do is shut down any and all ideas. Nothing good will come of close-mindedness and any semblance of a trusting environment for idea creation is shattered

 Adaptability

The players in an improve scene have no idea what either scene partner will say or do, the ability to adapt quickly and adapt well becomes second nature. Even though you’ve decided the scene’s setting is a retro 50s diner, your scene partner may be floating in a life raft on the Arctic Ocean. You both must adapt to all the information that’s presented or the magic of the scene will be lost and you’ll have a very confused audience.

No matter the industry, we’ve all been in situations that don’t always go to plan and adaptability, or being able to think quickly, has been a coveted skill that many people, more often than not, view as smarter, better and more awesome in the workplace. The ability to be able to adapt, pivot and move along isn’t just a preferred skill; it’s necessary for meeting deadlines, adjusting plans and making clients think you’re amazing.


KRYSTEN BECK

Designer
A cat lady who loves design, trivia, pop culture, books and donuts.