13 - 15 June 2017 | San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Which is Bigger: Pharma Profits or R&D Spending?

On Mar 27, 2017, Public Citizen came out with a report that claimed "Pharmaceutical Industry Profits Are Nearly Double R&D Costs in 2013, 2014 and 2015". The email announcing the report said “Even the inflated estimates of R&D reported by the industry are dwarfed by the industry’s profits, which, for the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies, jumped from $100.5 billion in 2014 to $123 billion in 2015.”

“Big Pharma says that high prices pay for R&D, but it turns out they pay almost twice as much for sky-high corporate profits,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The pricing system is broken and needs fundamental change.”

Today, another email from Public Citizen notified me that the organization “discovered a methodological issue in our report on medication costs and industry R&D spending. We have withdrawn the report and will repost it later this week with corrected data.”

Unfortunately, I did NOT download the report, so I can only speculate as to the nature of the “methodological issue.”

But I can cite some research that says Public Citizen is wrong.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Context Problem Foils Pharma Online Advertising

Click on image to enlarge.
Last week I came across an article about Johnson & Johnson and other pharma companies pulling their ads from Youtube because they appeared adjacent to hate speech, e.g.; an anti-Semitic clip claiming the existence of a “Jewish World Order” (see the back story embedded at the end of this post or click here).

In an official statement Johnson & Johnson said it paused all YouTube digital advertising globally “to ensure our product advertising does not appear on channels that promote offensive content. We take this matter very seriously and will continue to take every measure to ensure our brand advertising is consistent with our brand values.”

According to a Bloomberg article, "While Google’s tools can be incredibly sophisticated, allowing ads to follow users from site to site, the software hasn’t fully matched the human judgment necessary to protect brands from inadvertently funneling cash to causes their customers would find objectionable. The high number of intermediaries in digital advertising further complicates the problem. So Google’s announced fixes may not completely solve the challenge."

This problem, however is NOT limited to Google, YouTube, and Facebook. It's also a problem for pharma digital marketers looking to place ads in major online media channels.

A case in point is the Janssen ad embedded in a STATnews story about a immunotherapy "breakthrough" (see image at left).

What's the problem with this and can pharma companies do anything to place limits on digital ad placement by taking account of context?

Monday, March 20, 2017

How Many Adverse Event Reports Are Submitted to the FDA? Whatever the Answer, It's at an All-Time High!

I've been tracking the number of adverse event reports (AERs) submitted to the FDA over the years based on data supplied by the FDA here. The latest update of that data was made in November 2015 showing the number of AERs FDA received in the first quarter (Q1) of 2015.

If you assume that the submission rate seen in Q1 of 2015 remained constant throughout the year, you get the following trend chart based on FDA's summary data table:

Click on image for enlarged view.
According this analysis, about 2.25 million AERs were submitted by healthcare professionals (HCPs) and consumers in 2015. An analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today, however, yields drastically different numbers.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Gottlieb to Head FDA: Pharma Breathes a Sigh of Relief

DTC Advertising in the Era of High Drug Prices

TV and, to a lesser extent, print direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug ads have often been blamed for the high price of drugs. For example:

Pharma marketers are no doubt concerned that the current political atmosphere, in which both Republicans and Democrats are calling for lower drug prices, is having a negative effect on the effectiveness of their ads as consumers tune out the message (read, for example, “Pharma is Spending More on DTC Advertising But Its Effectiveness is Decreasing, Says New Survey”).

Bob Ehrlich, Chairman of DTC Perspectives, in a recent email titled "Times of Turmoil Ahead" expressed concern that DTC marketers may not adequately understand consumer sentiment viz-a-viz high drug prices:
"Most of us practicing the art and science of DTC have no control over political decisions on drug pricing and drug approval. That being said, it is imperative DTC marketers understand the popular sentiment consumers are exhibiting towards drug companies."
How does high drug prices affect the work product of DTC marketers and what does Ehrlich propose that DTC marketers do to address consumer concern regarding high drug prices?

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