Tag: Vanderveer

COVID and Mental Health

Check this out. You will find a fascinating piece concerning links between viruses, COVID-19 in particular, and mental health. Links? Yup! The really interesting part about these findings is that causality can go in both directions. Those with schizophrenia and mood disorders, for example, were found to suffer more severe cases of COVID-19 than patients without these comorbidities. AND. Going in the other direction, patients who have had COVID-19 or other severe infections have a significant increase in their risk of developing mental illnesses later in life.

Bottom Line. So what the heck is going on here? While understanding is incomplete, it would seem that inflammation might well be the bridge that bidirectionally links infections and mental illnesses. 

Stand back and look at that sentence for a minute and ponder the impact that demonstrating such physiological causality could have on psychiatrists and psychologists working with the “mentally” ill!!!

Day Job and Gay Job???

Here is another one of those interesting issues that I frankly have never thought much about. That is, how well or poorly does the biopharma industry deal with LGBTQ+ issues in comparison to other environments. 

Check this out. What you will see is a fascinating series of observations and recommendations on this topic. Overall, this piece notes, less than 50% of LGBTQ+ employees are “out” at their place of work. BUT. For our industry, the good news is that our companies are heavy in PhDs, MDs and other educated professionals, who tend to be more accepting of alternative lifestyles. AND. Our companies also tend to be located in or near big cities, with urbanites being more accepting of differences in sexual orientation than rurals.

Arguably, the bad news is that most biopharma companies do not have special programs or initiatives to reach out to LGBTQ+ consumers, although companies like GSK are beginning to move in this direction.

An important point is made in this article with the observation that not all of the letters in the LGBTQ+ acronym have the same issues. Transgender employees who transition while on the job, it is noted, require that other employees also transition. Translated, if the boss that used to use the men’s room suddenly transitions to using the ladies’ room, some eyebrows will likely furrow and tongues wag. 

Bottom Line. At the end of the day, the executives interviewed for this article were largely unanimous in recommending that members of the LGBTQ+ community speak their “own truth” in the workplace setting. Backing down on issues related to sexual orientation is likely to be deleterious to both the employee and to the gay community at large.

Moreover, HIV/AIDS is not the only market where members of the LGBTQ+ community constitute a significant, and significantly different, market segment. Product managers need to decide if their product offers special benefits to this community, and target and tailor their promotional messages accordingly.

All interesting issues. How does your company rate? What should it be doing differently as we move into 2022???

PillDrill-How Much Technology Is Enough? Too Much???

PillDrill It has been fascinating in recent years to see all of the different permutations of the “smart pill bottle” concept that have come to the market, or at least to start up investments rounds, as purported aids to patient compliance with their drug regimens. Check out PillDrill, that just received $3 Million in its latest round of funding. How does this device work? Simple. Sort of. Program the base station with the drugs that are to be taken and their dosing times. A display lights up with the drug name when it is time to take the drug, and an alarm goes off if the pill is not taken. Note. Waving a coded pill bottle in front of the base station serves as a proxy for the pill having been taken and turns off the alarm. Clearly, the use of smart pill bottles of whatever ilk is aimed primarily at the elderly. Equally clear is the fact that such patients will need their care-givers to accomplish the initial set up of the PillDrill. Bottom Line. Here’s my question. For a couple of bucks, you can go to CVS and buy a plastic box with compartments for seven days of therapy, with trap doors labeled AM and PM to indicate morning and evening doses. That manages b.i.d. dosage regimens rather handily, which in turn will cover most patients’ drug schedules. SO. How many patients are on dosage regimens that require this far more flexible, but also far more complicated, PillDrill technology? Enough to make this product a market success? We shall see!

Barriers To Using Texting To Motivate Compliance

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-4-21-25-pm Good grief! There are things that people wander around believing that I just don’t understand. It never ceases to amaze me, for example, how many otherwise sophisticated people actually believe that patient noncompliance with drug therapy is simply the result of them forgetting to take their pills. Little details like the cost and inconvenience of filling prescriptions, side effects, the stigma of being ill, etc. are somehow lost on these people. But DUH! If forgetting is the major problem, hey! It is 2016. All we have to do is to text them a reminder, right? As it turns out, even that is not so simple. Read this article, and learn some of the practical reasons why the texting of such messages is far from a no brainer. Bottom Line. Yes we are well into the digital era and communications channels are available that were only the stuff of dreams years ago. But in evaluating each channel, we must keep in mind both its strengths and its weaknesses, its advantages and its disadvantages. “Why not just text them?” is, in brief, a question that calls forth many important reasons not to do so in applications related to healthcare.

Just How Much Can You Expect Marketing To Do???

addyi Here is an interesting article. Seems that Valeant Pharmaceuticals is being sued because they haven’t sold enough addyi. The claim being made in the litigation is that the order-of-magnitude sales shortfall up against projections is due to the company’s inept and insufficient marketing efforts for this drug designed to enhance female libido. But is it? Through my five-decade career in pharmaceutical marketing and marketing research, it has been my experience that good marketing can accomplish some amazing things. BUT. It has also been my experience that if a product is fundamentally flawed in some way, marketing can’t make that problem go away. Here’s my take on the addyi lawsuit. The reason that the product is not selling, quite simply, is that the older women for whom it is intended are NOT interested in having their libido’s reactivated. In fact, women with whom I conducted research on this topic years ago reported that they were mad as hell that Viagra reactivated their husbands’ libidos just when the wives thought they were finally done with having to endure sex. That’s what the women said, folks. Please don’t shoot the messenger! Bottom Line. So. Is the lack of addyi sales the result of poor marketing, or the foreseeable outcome for a product for which the intended audience had no perceived need?  The outcome of this litigation will be very interesting to observe, since it may help to determine the legal responsibility of marketers to use their efforts to get what is possible, and maybe what is impossible, out of a product.

Chemo Yes, Flu Shot No!?!?!

Sunrise Rounds Fascinating post by our blogging Oncologist. Seems that it is often easier for him to talk a patient into receiving chemotherapy, even after a horrific explanation of likely and potential side effects, than it is to get a patient to take a relatively benign and safe flu shot. This despite the fact that influenza is often a killer of patients undergoing treatment for cancer. How can this be? How indeed! The blogger certainly hasn’t figured out the answer. Bottom Line. Think about this for a moment. What can this crazy example teach us about working with patients to get them to take rational approaches to their own healthcare?  

The Smart Phone As A Tool To Treat Addiction???

iPhone   Take a look at this blog post. Therein, you will see a Psychiatrist with a special interest in addiction make the point that an addict’s iPhone can be part of the problem or part of the solution. To eliminate the problematic part, she explains, the patient must take the (obvious?) step of eliminating any connection with the addiction world from the phone. Yes, having your dealer’s number on speed dial could be a problem! She also reviews a number of “apps” that are available to assist in the addiction recovery process. Actually, the apps that she reviews are for suicide prevention and management of depression, but the tangential relevance to addictions is obvious. Bottom Line. As is demonstrated daily in cities across the U.S., addictions are not easily treated. Can smart phones and apps help? I will admit to being more than a little skeptical here, but I would desperately like to be wrong.  What do you think?

Lots And Lots Of Healthcare Venture Capital!!!

third Rock This is just a quickie. As you will see in this announcement, Third Rock Ventures has closed their Fund IV with over $600 Million in committed funds. They have yet to start to invest, but when they do they will be a force to be reckoned with. Their funds I-III have spawned some major partnership successes. Bottom Line. The labor-intensive Third Rock model provides their partners with more than money. Clearly, the guidance they are able to offer their venture partners based on their years of experience is priceless.  We wish them well!

Is Opioid Addiction Funny???

John Oliver Sorry, but following up on my recommended assignment for you today is going to take almost 20 minutes of your time. BUT.  You will find watching this video both informative and, at times, amusing.  And also somewhat disturbing. In it, John Oliver recounts the story of how the epidemic of addiction to prescription opioids involved the interaction of aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies AND the apparent need of PCP’s to move chronic pain patients quickly through their offices. Bottom Line. While watching the complex history of events set forth in this video, I got to thinking again about cause and effect. While we tend to want to view the world as a simple this-caused-that model, in many cases real life examples, like this one, are a lot more sequential, multifactorial and interactive. Ponder this reality the next time you try to answer the “What made this happen?” question.

The Day The Pediatricians Quit

Carousel About a year ago, my wife and I watched a preposterous show about a South Carolina town, Yemassee, where for one week all of the women were spirited away on a vacation leaving the men and children to fend for themselves. What happened under those circumstances is pretty much what you would expect, so I won’t belabor the dysfunction that befell this little town off of I-95. I will, however, call your attention to this blog, which posits a hypothetical day when Pediatricians walk away from their practices en masse. Why? They got fed up with the pushback they are getting from parents armed with Internet Information, social trends causing them to have to spend additional time overcoming nonsensical patient objections, etc. Bottom Line. This post actually got me to pondering how much foolishness doctors are in fact going to tolerate before they lay down their stethoscopes.  Much of the contents of my blog posts bemoans “stuff” that doctors must increasingly tolerate, and the notion of them going “on strike” for a while might well be a good thing for healthcare.  Think about it!