Category: Pharmaceutical Marketing

Make Lemonade! Or Maybe Even Lemoncello!!!

Check this out. You know the old expression. If life gives you lemons…

Watch the short video and you might join me in an ah-hah experience related to this old chestnut. Along comes the pandemic, and most U.S. restaurants immediately sink into deep trouble. Many don’t survive. The latest recovery package from the Feds earmarked over $22 Billion (Yes, with a B) to help restaurants to get back on their feet. Simply weathering the storm was a stretch objective. 

BUT. Denny’s had a different idea. They decided to make a profit from COVID-19. Not by taking advantage of people during these tough times, but by making creative use of public health measures, delivering food, etc., and reestablishing their brand’s positioning as America’s Diner. Smart move.

Bottom Line. As I continue to roll out my monthly On Doctors’ MindsSM conversations with physicians about their pandemic experiences, I keep encountering a missed opportunity for the nation’s pharmaceutical companies. Physicians were thrown into a tizzy in March and April of 2020. Their patient loads suddenly dropped to zero, they had to hasten into telemedicine, they were concerned for their own health AND they no longer had their good buddies, the Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives, to lean on. Doctor after doctor has told me how “disorganized” our industry has looked to them during the pandemic.  

What a great opportunity for a drug company to step forward and say, “We’re here for you, Doc!” Develop a strategy and tactics that delivers on this promise during the pandemic and you have a friend for life!

Or, you could just do what most drug companies did. Sit back and wait for all of this to be over and soon we can go back to the way things used to be. 

Wrong!

Straight Talk

Check this out.  What you will see is another take on the vaccine effectiveness confusion issue we discussed in the previous post. Here, the Astra-Zeneca Oxford vaccine, marketed in Europe, gets thrown under the same efficacy shortfall bus that yesterday we saw bedevil J&J in the U.S.  

Why? As this article says, “… the two (organizations) bear responsibility for confusing data reports and a general lack of transparency, resulting now in a mishmash of authorizations around the world.”

Nice work. The article further discusses the lack of willingness of the company representatives to provide clear answers to questions that have been posed in an attempt at clarification of the underlying issues.  

Bottom Line. As the title of the article suggests, “straight talk” might be the best way for AZ Oxford, and by implication for J&J, to get out of this morass of confusion.  

It usually is!

When Does 66% Equal 95%???

When Dr. Fauci talks about COVID vaccines, that’s when! We’ve all seen Tony on TV, repeatedly telling listeners to “Get any vaccine you can get when it is your turn to get vaccinated.” But check this out. What you will see is a new challenge for J&J. Developing a working vaccine was tough. Getting people to accept their vaccine is constituting yet another challenge.  

Here’s what is happening. First, you had the J&J vaccine tested in a different time frame and different geographic areas than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. That means it might well have been encountering different, more infectious variants, thus accounting for its lower efficacy.  

Then, you have the natural tendency, as described by Behavioral Economists, for people to try to simplify information on which they are basing decisions. Thus, a vaccine that is efficacious for 95% of patients is thought of as “working for everybody,” while a product that is 100% effective in preventing death but only 66% effective in preventing disease is thought of as “sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”  

Bottom Line. Perhaps the biggest problem here has been the history of confusion and misinformation that has permeated the entire COVID-19 pandemic. People trying to sort out he specifics of vaccine effectiveness face a significant statistical challenge, and Fauci vouching that we “now have three effective vaccines” simply adds to the confusion.  

SO. J&J’s communication challenge here might well be almost as daunting as developing the vaccine to begin with!  

Pharmaceutical Marketing Creativity

Check this out. What you will see is a marketing program, being mounted by RB, in support of their Mucinex brand. They have rolled out a special page for patients to add endorsements for their physicians. They also plan to add other programs to allow patients to show their support for their doctors during these trying times.  

Bottom Line. I am of two minds on this one. First and foremost, I very much like the idea of any program that shows our support for, and partnership with, physicians. The fact that 2020 is a year that makes such expressions of gratitude especially valuable, seems irrefutable.  

BUT. Beyond a generalized feel-good spirit, in what way will this program enhance Mucinex sales? That I am not so sure about!

No Time To Wait

Check this out. What you will see is a story outlining a new campaign, being mounted by Pfizer and BMS, aimed at getting patients experiencing symptoms that might be AFib, DVT or PE to go their doctors. NOW! Both companies are painfully aware of the data showing that patients are staying away from their physicians in droves as a result of the pandemic. They are also painfully aware that this absenting is causing them big bucks. So, they are sending patients to this URL to get them motivated to show up at their practitioners’ offices.   

Bottom Line. Read the story. Check out the URL. As always, I’m thinking a couple of things. First, I’m thinking that the two companies are pursuing a worthy goal. There is little doubt that patients are dying because of pandemic-based avoidance of physicians’ offices.  

But second, I am scratching my head pondering: 

1. How likely patients are to ever get to this URL, and

2. How likely its content is going to be to motivate them to make an appointment with their doctors?

I’m unfortunately going with “not very” as my answer to both of these questions. Which leaves me to ponder. How can this worthy goal be better accomplished?  

Doctors Don’t “Communicate” About Medications

Check this out. What you will see is a simple but important thought. Our old friend, The Country Doctor, suggesting that while businesses spend a disproportionately large percentage of their time and effort focused on how to sell something rather than on how to produce it, physicians take the opposite approach. Especially given the increasingly tight limitations on their time, doctors simply cut to the chase, tersely telling patients what medications they need to take and how, and failing to “sell” the drugs and their benefits with anywhere near the same level of intensity that the drugs had been sold to them.  

Bottom Line. So what? So plenty! Consider the impact of all of this on patient adherence. And, perforce, on the doctor-patient relationship.  

Maybe we, as an industry, need to help doctors to become better salespeople. I am thinking that this could result in a triple win. For the doctor, for the patient, and for us!

Beauty and The (Covid-19) Beast

Check this out. What you will see is that the business of “aesthetics,” including face lifts, Botox injections, fillers, etc. is booming as the pandemic drags on. Why? Hours staring at our own faces in Zoom conferences (Zoom Face???), messages telling us to use the lock down time to improve ourselves, etc., seem to be reasonable answers here.

AND. Pharmaceutical companies with relevant products, plastic surgery practices and others with a pecuniary interest in making us more beautiful are stoking this fire with advertisements and commercials.

Bottom Line. I guess that all makes sense. Sort of???

Stop Hate For Profit

Check this out. What you will learn is that Pfizer, Novartis and other pharmaceutical companies had withdrawn their advertising from Facebook a few months ago as a part of a brand boycott, “Stop Hate for Profit,” designed to get social media to take responsibility for monitoring the content of their sites. Now, persuaded that FB is taking steps to eliminate racism, antisemitism and other hate speech from their site, the drug makers are returning their advertising. BUT. They will continue to monitor the situation, and pull their advertising again if they feel that the hate speech has returned.  

Please note. Hate speech can go way beyond just talking and offending. As the shootings in Kenosha demonstrated, for example, lives are on the line when social media are used to bring agitators from other states into an already explosive situation. 

Bottom Line. As this article makes very clear, it is one thing for Facebook to have a “policy,” and another thing entirely for it to enforce that policy.  

Keep your eyes on this one. It is important stuff!

COVID-19 Vaccine Revenues and Profits

Check this out. What you will see are some early predictions in terms of how much revenue and profit flow will be generated by a COVID-19 vaccine. $20 Billion in revenue in 2021? $100 Million revenue overall? $40 Billion profit? How much will come from developed countries? How much from developing? Which companies will enjoy what share?

More generally, there are a couple of really fundamental questions to be answered here. First, what will the business model be? For example, how does a company go about setting its profit margin here? Too low and the company misses a major profit opportunity. Too high and the company looks like a greedy scalper.  

Second, what does the marketing effort look like? Here, I believe that there is a significant opportunity for all of the manufacturers in the game (estimated at 6) to join forces to sell the concept of vaccination to consumers. There will be a lot of concerns about vaccines developed at “warp speed” that will need to be overcome, and it would be good to have every company’s shoulder pressed against this wheel, especially if there are booster shots involved.  

And how about specific brand? Marketing giants like Johnson and Johnson will likely be pitted against newbies like Moderna. What do the different pitches sound like, and how does that all work out?

Oh! And how does the marketing of vaccines depend upon what treatments are also available?

Bottom Line. Hopefully we will get to watch all of this unfold sooner rather than later. It should be fascinating, and hopefully a great relief to the world at large!

The Sound of Silence

Check this out.  Spend a couple of minutes and watch the video. What you will see is a fascinating story of Pfizer, sort of accidently, discovering that its arthritis drug appeared also to be effective as a preventative against Alzheimer’s. BUT. After several years of internal discussion, they decided not to publish the data or do the clinical trials necessary to pursue the indication. Why? You be the judge. This report offers up two diverse reasons. One, the “science” of the data, obtained by analyzing insurance claims, wasn’t strong enough. OR. Maybe the drug’s upcoming patent expiry didn’t make further investments in further indications a prudent business decision. 

Bottom Line. Frankly, I find this story a little creepy. How many potentially significant clinical discoveries never get to see the light of day for whatever reason. And, more importantly, what should have been done here that should be done in similar cases in the future?

Think about it!