Yesterday the Boston Business Journal ran an overview, "Biotechs proceed with social-media caution," of the state of affairs in drug companies' use of Web 2.0 platforms like Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
As you'd expect, this is an issue tracked carefully by every PR firm in Boston, San Francisco and other areas where the drug and medical device industries are concentrated.
As we all know, companies that market therapies and medical devices in the U.S. have to be prudent in their use of social media. Lacking FDA guidance, they generally believe that they need to steer clear of anything that might be deemed promotional. (John Moore of Chilmark Research boils it down for readers in the Boston Business Journal article: "How do you have clear disclaimers in 140 characters?") And what if patients make claims that aren't supported by FDA labeling? Or report side effects that the drug or device company can't verify?
Yet, as the article points out, people are talking anyway--patients and their families will continue to search online for information about conditions and treatments--and biotech and medical device companies increasingly feel that they have to at least listen to those conversations.
I've heard some ask, "Why would I listen when I can't respond?" That mindset strikes me as too tactically focused and short-sighted. A response to that post or that tweet may be out of the question, but any effective external communications program has to be based on a reasonably comprehensive understanding of how your product is perceived.
Beyond that, as the article and other discussions of pharmaceutical marketing have pointed out, companies can still make some use of social media as a channel to reach target audiences. They might be hamstrung at this moment in time in not being free to engage in every two-way conversation, but pharmaceutical and medical device companies should be able to get creative in their use of social media to disseminate some types of information, such as facts about a particular medical condition and tips on its management that have nothing to do with a drug or device.
Jim Weinrebe from Schwartz attended the November 2009 FDA hearings on social media and opined, at the time, that "active listening and monitoring" of social media by drug and device companies would gradually become seen as "safe" and would not go hand in hand with a requirement to "police."
Pharma and device companies are listening to what's being said online and some are beginning to go a bit beyond. None of these firms are giving consumer brands a run for their money in use of social media, but it's clear that they should at least begin to listen. Perceiving social media use as "all or nothing" isn't in line with industry leaders' current thinking.
Tags: biotech PR
, biotechnology PR
, Boston PR agencies
, pharmaceutical PR
, San Francisco PR agencies
, social media
Posted by Laura Kempke on February 23, 2010 at 4:10 PM
| TrackBack (0)
Written by guest blogger Karl Hultén, Schwartz Stockholm
An extensive analysis, based on a recent survey, confirms that the Swedish medtech industry is highly innovative and evolving. The export share of the industry is high, 86 percent, and the U.S. is seen as the most important market.
Within the next three years, the number of new products is expected to rise by 24 percent. Most companies in the survey are involved in diagnostics, cardiovascular therapies and orthopedics. The survey
was conducted by the research firm Synergus at the request of Swedish Medtech, Invest in Sweden Agency, SwedenBIO, Innovationsbron and VINNOVA.
In August, 2009, 96 Swedish medtech companies responded to questions about business prospects, corporate structure and number of products and projects to be developed. The answers indicate that the industry is gearing up for international growth.
Companies in the survey estimate a 24 percent increase in number of products on the market by 2012. Smaller sized companies tend to be more involved in the development of new products than larger companies. A majority of the participating companies regard the development of international sales as the biggest challenge.
Clinical evidence is essential for 74 percent of the companies and the number of clinical trials is expected to grow dramatically over the next three years.
The Swedish and U.S. markets have a long history of co-development and synergy effects. Over the coming years this bond is expected to grow even stronger.
Companies to watch:
– Making medical devices deadly, for bacteria
Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat. In Europe alone at least 25.000 people die each year because of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections. On February 9, 2010 Göran Hägglund, Swedish minister of Health and Social Affairs, held a press conference in which he said that “Every year 3 000 people die unnecessarily in Swedish health care, due to lacking routines.” Most of these casualties are caused by hospital acquired infections. Bactiguard is a clinically proven product for preventing these types of infections. It consists of a thin metal alloy which is antimicrobial and biocompatible. This coating can be applied to any medical device. This is a Swedish invention that unlike most other medical devices also is produced in Sweden. It is a very interesting product with a lot of potential because of the great challenges that lie ahead in working against the spread of multiresistant bacterial infections.
– Challenging big pharma
There is always a risk of contaminating wounds in the operating room. Dust can carry with it multi-resistant bacteria that sometimes cause lethal infections. Preventing infections could lower readmission and mortality rates and save hospitals large expenses. Airsonett has developed a unique technology for infection control in operation rooms (Opragon) based on clean room technology. The company also applies the technology in prophylactic treatment of allergic asthma (Protexo). What’s interesting and unique is that Airsonett now challenges the big pharmaceutical giants. Their products could compete with long term treatment of asthma (inhaler), which is a big deal. The company has its roots in the clean room industry (AirSon AB) but has now moved into these new and exciting fields.
Posted by Kristina Ebenius on February 18, 2010 at 2:26 PM
| TrackBack (0)
My old hometown newspaper, the Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin, covers happenings at Mayo Clinic with regularity. (Absolutely everyone called it "the Clinic" when I was growing up, but since I'm in communications I'll try to respect the fact that they've dropped the "the" and mean it about the "Mayo" part.)
An article in the paper this week, "Mayo Clinic Looks Toward the Future," describes how things went last year for the hospital, "a $7 billion nonprofit company that employs more than 32,000 people in Rochester." Sounds like things were a bit rough, but that Mayo, which also has a huge presence in Arizona and Florida, finished the year in good shape.
Looking ahead, to grow, "Mayo plans to use everything from social media and 'telemedicine' to remote clinic locations [potentially outside of the U.S.] to accomplish that goal."
Mayo is already, as just about everyone in healthcare PR knows, phenomenally active and I believe creative in its use of social media. (For a start, check out the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.) I'll be very interested to see what Mayo's got up its sleeve in 2010 when it comes to using social media to reach patients and consumers, both in the U.S. and abroad.
Much has been made among healthcare marketers of how hamstrung pharmaceutical and medical device companies are, or perceive themselves to be, in their use of social media in the absence of FDA guidance. Hospitals, however, have jumped right in.
To keep current on this topic, check out the Found In Cache blog. It's full of charts and useful resources (e.g., "Over 1,000 Hospital Social Media Sites") on use of social media by hospitals.
You may want to also read HealthLeadersMedia's late January article "Few Hospitals Use Social Media Effectively, Says Study." It says that only 12.5% of respondents to a survey--hospital marketers--had succeeded in attracting new patients using social media.
With social media use on the rise--consider that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is women over the age of 55--maybe hospitals will see greater returns on their use of social media in 2010.
Photo credit: Visit this page for information on this photo of the Mayo building. This photo is covered by an open source license.
Tags: healthcare PR
, healthcare public relations
, medical PR
, medical public relations
, social media
Posted by Laura Kempke on February 12, 2010 at 6:42 PM
| TrackBack (0)