Monday, October 29, 2012

My POV Regarding Regulation of Pharma Mobile Medical Apps

The pharmaceutical industry has to police itself with regard to development of medical apps. There has to be good documentation of the testing of apps to ensure their correctness.

That's the summary of my point of view (POV) regarding the pharma HOTSPOT topic: "Should Pharma reconsider its mobile application approach with FDA guidance looming?" See the annotated video below:

A "counterpoint" was offered by Dr. Chetan Vijayvergia, PhD, Director of Medical Strategy, Ignite Health, on Ignite Health's Pharma HOTSPOT web site. Dr. Vijayvergia's point was "The apps that are currently being created in the Pharma space don’t have a predicate in the FDA database. Pharma needs to reconsider the mobile approach to actively help the FDA shape industry guidance" (see here).

Vijayvergia contends that the current FDA draft guidance for MMAs "casts a very wide net" and if pharma app developers are not careful, their apps can get "dinged as an MMA [mobile medical application]" and be subject to regulation as a medical device.

The fear that FDA is casting too "wide a net" over MMAs was first expressed by PhRMA (see "FDA Mobile Regulatory Fear Mongering by PhRMA"). IMHO, the FDA was pretty clear about staying away from most health-related apps aimed at consumers such as diet apps, etc.

The Best Defense Against Zealous FDA Regulation is Self-Regulation!

In addition to offering FDA its POV regarding what is and what is not a MMA subject to medical device regulation, the pharma industry, IMHO, should begin policing itself to develop MMAs that comply with standards such as Happtique's App Certification Program; listen to this podcast regarding that:

Listen to internet radio with Pharmaguy on Blog Talk Radio

You may also enjoy reading these previous posts regarding pharma mobile medical apps:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Big Pharma Places Its Money on Romney to Win the Election

Here's an update on the political contributions of the health/pharmaceutical industry according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

To date, the total contributions - based on contributions from PACs, soft money donors, and individuals giving $200 or more - is $13,782,133, which is up by about 16% from the $12 million reported in August (see "Is Pharma Republican or Democrat? Follow the Money & Find Out"). 58% of that went to Republicans and 42% went to Democrats. In the 2008 election, it was 51% vs. 49%, Republicans vs. Democrats.

Can it be said that "As goes Big Pharma, so goes America?" Time will tell. But if money is the determining factor, Obama is destined to be a one-term president.

Here are updated charts with details about the donations of the top 20 pharma contributors (click here for source):

To make it easier to see which pharma company employees/PACs are "Republican" and which are "Democrat," I prepared this chart from the table above (click on image for an enlarged view).

There are several decidedly "Republicans" in the Big Pharma group, including Abbott, Astrazeneca, and Eli Lilly and a few so-so "Democrats": Pfizer, Amgen, and Merck.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Physicians Prefer Gated Social Media Communities

Research sponsored by Pfizer and published last month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, found that over 70% of physicians surveyed (N=485) are either "current users" (52%) or "likely/very likely" users (19%) of "restricted online communities" (such as Sermo). In this case, "use" means sharing medical information and staying up to date professionally. The following chart is a remake of Figure 2 from that study (find it here).

Wikipedia is the next closest "social media" site used by these docs (186 oncologists and 299 primary care physicians) -- only 25% of surveyed physicians said they are current users of Wikipedia. As for YouTube, 23% of surveyed docs said they were current users.

This survey was conducted in March 2011.

According to Manhattan Research’s Taking the Pulse® v11.0 study (May 2011), only about a third of all “digital” physicians (24% of all physicians) are using gated physician peer communities like Sermo, Medscape, DrConnect, PhysicianConnect, Ozmosis, etc.

Some experts, such as Bruce Grant, SVP of Strategic Services at Digitas Health, in the past have cited other, conflicting data that suggests physicians interested in using online peer-to-peer social communities outnumber by 2 to 1 physicians who are actually using them (see "Physician Participation in Peer-to-Peer Social Media Sites"; use discount code P2Pfree).

52% or 24%, whatever! The number of physicians using gated social media communities for professional purposes far exceeds the number of physicians using "open" communities such as Twitter or Facebook. Only 7% of surveyed physicians say they use Twitter in order to share medical information and stay up to date and 36% of said they either were not aware of Twitter (3%) or said they would never use Twitter (33%) for such purposes (another 50% said they were unlikely or not sure if they would use it)!

Meanwhile, the use of Twitter by patients/consumers seems to be on the rise. Twitter reports that tweets about health are up 51 percent this year (see "Twitter Courts Healthcare – But Cautiously").

It doesn't seem likely that physicians and their patients will ever communicate using social media. They just don't seem like birds willing to flock together on social media.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dennis Urbaniak, Joan Mikardos, and Laura Kolodjeski of Sanofi US Receive the 3rd PharmaGuy Social Media Pioneer Award

PharmaGuy (aka John Mack) presented the coveted bright yellow Hawaiian shirt/Pharmaguy Social Media Pioneer Award to Dennis Urbaniak, VP, Joan Mikardos, Senior Director, and Laura Kolodjesji, Senoir Manager, Patient Solutions, at Sanofi US Diabetes. The award was made at the 6th Annual Digital Pharma East conference in Philadelphia on October 17, 2012. Accepting the award on behalf of the winners -- who could not make it in person -- was Wendy Blackburn of Intouch Solutions.

The Pharmaguy Social Media Pioneer Award is meant to recognize pioneers who work (or have recently worked) within regulated drug and device companies. The award recognizes courage in the face of regulatory and corporate culture road blocks!

This is the first time the award was given to a team of people rather than a single person. The first award went to Alex Butler (see here) and the second award went to Tony Jewell (see here).

I felt that this team deserved recognition because they didn't give up on social media even after a "disgruntled" patient caused Sanofi to shut down a Facebook page that did not have comments turned off (read about that here). Urbaniak et al learned a lot from this experience and shared what they learned (listen to this podcast: "What Sanofi-Aventis Learned from Its FaceBook Experience").

Urbaniak and Kolodjeski also received the greatest number of nominations in a poll I ran (see summary of results here). In comments, respondents to the poll described Urbaniak as "the most innovative guy in pharma" and said he "opened new ways of engaging with patients in the diabetes field, with courage and consistency." Kolodjeski was praised because "she keeps the patient at the center of all her efforts. She is a great example of how we should go about our business in Pharma."

My bad that I did not include Mikardos as a contender in the poll. When I informed Laura, Dennis, and Wendy -- who has worked closely with the Sanofi US diabetes business unit -- about the award, they informed me that Joan was also deserving for her contribution to the team's social media efforts.

What's With the Hawaiian Shirt?
Let me explain the Hawaiian shirt motif of the award. Around the time that the FDA announced it would hold a public hearing regarding regulation of pharma’s use of the Internet and social media, I started appearing at conferences in a yellow Hawaiian shirt, which was left over from a Hunter S. Thompson Halloween costume (see “Pharma Social Media Crips vs. Legal/Regulatory Bloods: Call for a ‘Peace’ Conference” for a sighting of me in the shirt at the 3rd Annual Digital Pharma East Conference). I also considered wearing the shirt when I made my presentation to the FDA at the November, 2009 meeting (see “Fear and Loathing in Washington, DC”), but out of respect for the FDA and the audience, I opted for a traditional suit and tie.

Although I didn’t wear my Hawaiian shirt at the FDA hearing, it became an emblem for standing out from the crowd, which is a necessary trait for a social media marketing pioneer. I think a Hawaiian shirt motif befits, therefore, what the Pharmaguy Pharma Social Media Pioneer Award stands for. Read more about the award here.

Is Online Pharma Promotion ROI Scalable?

Yesterday, at the 6th Annual Digital Pharma East conference here in Philadelphia, I met many "old" friends including Bill Drummy, CEO of HeartBeat Ideas.

Drummy's presentation had a long and complicated title -- "Outsize Results on Modest Budgets: Think You Can't Afford World-Class Marketing on Your Limited Budget? Think Again" -- but his message was simple: the ROI of online promotion is an order of magnitude greater than the "typical" 2:1 ROI for non-digital channel promotion.

"With digital you can get way more bang for your buck," said Drummy, "so you HAVE to think of the digital channel. If you have a real insight about your target, use really bold creative, and use a lot of precision targeting and pay-for-performance techniques, you can get dramatically higher and better results."

Drummy then said that ROI for digital ranges from 4:1 on the low end to high double digits on the high end. He's seen digital ROIs of about 29:1 in "a number of different cases." That's return on investment measured by increased sales, not surrogate key performance indicators like ad impressions, clicks and Facebook likes, etc.

Drummy didn't go into too much detail about how these ROI are measured, but he did show a blinded digital promotion case study (paid search and online display) where the ROI was about 5:1 (it was 13:1 for just paid search). The spend on that promotion was $32,000, I believe.

My question is this: Is this scalable to the point where digital promotion gives you a significant bump in sales?

A 5:1 ROI on a spend of $32,000 translates into $160,000 in additional sales. This is a small number as far as Rx sales go. A TV ad campaign spend of $100 million at 2:1 ROI results in $200 million in additional sales -- now we're talking about a real bump. At 5:1 ROI, how much money would you need to spend on search/display ads to realize a bump of $200 million? You would have to spend $40 million! I contend that it is impossible to spend that amount of money in one year on paid search and display advertising. And, if it was possible, would the ROI still be greater than the traditional, non-online ROI of 2:1?

If Drummy knows of a case to disprove this, I'd like to hear about it.

To be fair, Drummy was talking to companies with LIMITED budgets for promotion. In that case, there are probably limited sales opportunities as well. Therefore, putting your limited promotion budget into digital makes sense.

Drummy showed some examples of what he considered online campaigns that had "bold creative." I'll have more to say about this is a later post; right now, I have to get ready to have a chat with BI's John Pugh over coffee and bagels!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rich Meyer: We Don't Need No Stinkin' Fair Balance! The One-Click Rule Revisited.

My friend Rich Meyer over at DTC Marketing Blog wrote an inflammatory-sounding post titled "Time to eliminate fair balance on DTC ads." With a title like that, this post is sure to be read by a lot of pharma marketing pundits.

But Meyer is not talking about TV or print drug ads directed at consumers. He specifically is referring to online direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising:

"...fair balance online and in search makes no sense. Patients are not going to see an online ad or search copy without doing more research and the FDA needs to acknowledge this by revising guidelines."

Recall that in DTC advertising, fair balance refers to the presentation of accurate and fair assessment of the risks as well as the benefits of the drug (more here).

"DDMAC needs to come into the 21 century and provide guidelines that are realistic on how patients make healthcare decisions," says Meyer. "Too many online drug ads provide little in the way of benefits because there is so much fair balance. Does DDMAC and the FDA really believe that someone is going to see an ad for a prescription drug and ask their doctor about it without doing more research?"

It sounds like Meyer is urging the FDA to re-instate the "one-click rule," which the agency shot down in those famous 14 NOV letters in April, 2009. That would mean reversing itself and losing face. But wait! DDMAC no longer exists! It was reorganized as the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP)! OPDP can reverse the old DDMAC (Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications) ruling on the one-click rule and the FDA won't lose face! Brilliant!

BTW, Meyer isn't alone in wishing the return of the one-click rule; see "Pharma Prefers '1-Click Rule' for Presenting Fair Balance in Social Media & Other Internet-based Rx Ads" and "Merck Says FDA Should Approve the 'One-Click Rule'".

How Important is Pinterest for Pharma Marketers?

Fard Johnmar of Enspektos posted some data from his company's September 2012 digihealth pulse survey, which revealed that 30% of "active digital health consumers who use Pinterest encountered health and medical content" on that network (see infographic).

"What are the implications of this data?", asked Johnmar. "Well, a number of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other organizations are on the site. However, others are on the fence, wondering if experimenting is worth the effort. Our recommendation: The time for fence-sitting is over. It’s time to begin learning the ins and outs of Pinterest -- and how to develop and deliver credible and accurate health information via the platform."

I've been following pharma's use of Pinterest and have commented on this in previous posts and articles. See, for example, "What's Your Infographics Strategy?" (use discount code pgpin4 to get it free).

I have found Pinterest useful for "repurposing" graphics I create for blog posts and newsletter articles as well as for advertising. I hope that by doing this more people will learn about me, read my blog, and subscribe to my newsletter. All those key performance indicators (KPIs) help me determine what my Pinterest ROI is. I imagine that pharma marketers use similar KPIs to measure the effectiveness of Pinterest.

I've been surveying my new Twitter followers and asking them what other social networking applications they use. Pinterest is one of the choices. The bar chart below shows results from followers who responded to my survey between January 1, 2012, and today.

Pinterest is number 6 on the list -- 20% of my Twitter followers also use Pinterest. I'm not sure if they have Pinterest accounts or just look at the nice pictures.

Am I getting new readers and/or newsletter subscribers from Pinterest? To determine that, I looked at Google analytics for my blog and web site to see where referrals are coming from.

For the past 30 days, the top ten referring sites for Pharma Marketing Network include (in decreasing order of visits) Pharma Marketing Blog (ie, people clicking through on links such as the above link to a PMN article), LinkedIn, Google, Pharma Marketing Forums, and Twitter (ie, Pinterest is number 21 on the referral list and is NOT among the top 10 referral sites for Pharma Marketing Blog, whereas Twitter is number 6 on that list.

So, although I'm getting new followers on Pinterest and people are repinning my charts, etc., I'm not yet achieving my KPI goals for Pinterest -- i.e., driving traffic to my sites.

Could this be why the only pharma companies that I can find on Pinterest are Novo Nordisk (137 followers), Bayer (207 followers), and Boehringer Ingelheim (58 followers)?

I will interview Fard Johnmar on my BlogTalkRadio Show this Friday at 3:00 PM. For more information and to listen to this live podcast or the archive afterward, see "Discovering the Active Digital Health Consumer".

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pharma Marketers Likely to Spend a Lot More on Patient Adherence Mobile Apps

US pharmaceutical companies’ patient adherence budget allocations have increased from $400,000 in 2009 to $1.5 million in 2012 -- a 281% jump. That is according to a patient adherence survey by Cutting Edge Information (here).

The Cutting Edge Information report includes the following chart, which shows the "Patient Outreach Activities Most Likely to Increase in the Next Five Years" according to surveys and interviews of pharma marketers:

So, as I read this chart, nearly 40% of pharma marketers agree that patient adherence activities involving mobile "apps" will increase over the next five years. It appears that the "app" category here includes sending text reminder messages to mobile phones as well as downloadable applications such as the the Care4Today mobile app that was developed and recently released by Janssen Healthcare Innovation (see here).

Currently, 11% of pharma's adherence budget is allocated to mobile "apps." A little more than half of that is dedicated to simply calling/texting mobile phones to remind patients to take their medications, according to a MEDCity News review of the report (here). In five years, it is projected that 33% of pharma's adherence budget will be allocated to mobile "apps." I predict that the lion's share of this -- maybe 75% -- will be allocated to apps like Care4Today with only a minor portion (25%) going to simple reminder text messaging.

If adherence budget allocations continue to increase on a pace similar to the recent past, US pharma companies may be spending nearly $3.3 billion on adherence by 2017 (i.e., the next five years). One third of that -- $1.1 billion -- may be dedicated to mobile "apps" (including simple text messaging) and 75% of that -- $825 million -- could be spent on other mobile apps like Care4Today.

Hopefully, this investment won't be wasted on mobile adherence apps that are EXACTLY like Care4Today, the main purpose of which may be promotion of products rather than promotion of adherence (see "Adherence - Do We Really Need an App for That? Benefits Do Not Outweigh the Risks").

Friday, October 12, 2012

This Ethics Guideline for Pharma CME Support is a Pile of Malarkey!

A news item from a small corner of the world (the Irish Times) caught my attention. "Doctors told not to accept trips from drug firms' is the headline.
"DOCTORS MAY no longer accept direct invitations from the pharmaceutical industry for trips to international medical meetings, funded by drug companies, following the clarification by the Medical Council of its ethics guidelines..." said the article. 
"While accepting that payment of travel and accommodation expenses for doctors to attend meetings, either as participants or speakers, supports the aim of continuing professional development, the updated guideline says 'these payments should go through unrestricted education and development funds made available by the sponsoring company to the institution which is hosting the meeting or the conference organiser'." 
"Unrestricted education and development funds are not linked to or controlled by the organisations that contribute to them and healthcare institutions can choose to spend the funds any way they see fit," the clarification says [my emphasis].
What a pile of malarkey!

Healthcare institutions theoretically can choose to spend the funds any way they see fit THE FIRST TIME AROUND. It's virtually a sure bet that if they choose NOT to pay speakers for travel, they
  1. won't have any speakers and/or 
  2. won't get funded again by the pharmaceutical sponsor.
This is what makes ethics so ineffective in the real world. If the goal -- as expressed by the "Council" -- is to ensure that doctors' "professional judgment is not affected by the hospitality" of pharma companies, then pharma-sponsored CME should be banned outright. Otherwise, stop putting lipstick on this pig!

Did Pharma Online Ad Spending Increase 50% in First Half of 2012?

"Entertainment, automotive, pharmaceutical and healthcare were the fastest growing vertical sectors for online advertising in the first half of the year, according to a new report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau" (IAB) reports ClickZ (here). The report (get it here) utilizes data and information reported directly to PwC by companies generating online / mobile advertising revenues, and publicly available corporate data. The following figure shows the online ad formats tracked and how much was spent on each in the first half of 2012 compared to the first half of 2011. Overall online ad spending was $17.0 billion in the first hlaf of 2012 compared to $14.9 billion in the first half of 2011 (a 14% increase).

Search accounted for 48% of the online ad spend and display-related advertising accounted for 33% (Display-related advertising includes Display/Banner Ads, Rich Media, Digital Video, and Sponsorship).

Here's the data comparing the total online ad spending by major industry category:

Online ad spending by "Pharma & Healthcare" increased by 50% (from 4% of the total to 6% of the total). Keep in mind that not all of this is specifically spending by the Rx drug industry because the category includes "pharmaceutical products, facilities, services, researchers, and biological products. Also comprises establishments providing healthcare and social assistance for individuals as well as personal care, toiletries, and cosmetic products."

6% of $17.0 billion is $1.02 billion. That could pan out to be more than $2 billion for the entire year -- again, not all of that will be spent by the Rx drug industry.

eMarketer has predicted that online ad spending by the health industry in 2012 will be $1.58 billion (see "Bogus Predictions of Pharma Industry Online Ad Spending"), which is significantly different than the IAB guesstimate 0f $2.04 billion based on the data for the first 6 months.

Why the difference? It could be that eMarketer is measuring something different. However, its 2011 number of $1.28 billion is virtually the same as what IAB said the healthcare industry spent online in 2011 (4% of $31.7 billion equals $1.27 billion).

$1.58 billion, $2.04 billion -- whatever. Pharma's share of that ad spend is probably 50% or $0.8 to $1.0 billion. Taking out the 48% attributed to search, we get $0.38 to $0.48 billion spent on other types of online advertising. This compares to about $4 billion pharma spends on all direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising -- a number that does not include the online spending of any sort. In other words, online ad spending by pharma is still insignificant compared to offline ad spending.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It's Official: Doctors Prescribe Adderall to Help Kids Get Higher Grades at School

Dr. Michael Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta, routinely prescribes Adderall to kids who get poor grades in school. To do that, he first must commit fraud: submit a false diagnosis of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to Medicaid and/or private insurer.

The doctor admitted his fraudulent activity in a story published in today's New York Times (here). “I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

He does this believing in his heart of hearts that ADHD is “made up.” His excuse? To prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools.
Dr. Anderson’s instinct, he said, is that of a “social justice thinker” who is “evening the scales a little bit.” He said that the children he sees with academic problems are essentially “mismatched with their environment” — square pegs chafing the round holes of public education. Because their families can rarely afford behavior-based therapies like tutoring and family counseling, he said, medication becomes the most reliable and pragmatic way to redirect the student toward success.
This is wrong on so many levels. For one thing, who made Dr. Anderson and other physicians who feel the same way judge and jury regarding what school is "adequate" or "inadequate"?

That, of course is not the main problem, which is prescribing a dangerous, additive drug to children who have no real medical need. This is clearly a case where a drug's benefit does not justify the risks that the patients are subject to. "Reported side effects of the drugs have included growth suppression, increased blood pressure and, in rare cases, psychotic episodes," says the NY Times.

Not mentioned by the Times is the dangers of addiction. ABC News recently ran a story documenting this problem: Dangers of Adderall Addiction Among Moms (see here or view the embedded video below).

If moms can become addicted to Adderall, their children can also become addicted. When they can no longer get Adderall, they will try other drugs easily available from physicians or on the street (see, for example,

This is so egregious that I must ask if Dr. Anderson has received payments from Shire Pharmaceuticals, which sells Adderall XR (the extended release version of Adderall, which Shire sold to Teva Pharmaceuticals). Unfortunately, Shire does not publicly disclose such payments. According to its compliance Web site (here), Shire only reports spending on HCPs (healthcare providers) to a "limited number of states as required by the individual state laws."

Related posts:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Psychiatry "Suicide" by Pharma

British psychiatrist and "Big Pharma gadfly" David Healy argued that his profession is “committing professional suicide” by failing to address its dangerously close relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. He made his argument speaking at an annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association during a "well-attended session on conflicts of interest" according to this article.

Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a past president of the APA and director of Columbia’s Division of Law, Ethics and Psychiatry cited a study that showed "only 34% psychiatrists believe that receiving food or gifts affects their own prescribing patterns, 53% believe that it influences that of their colleagues... Research shows that this type of thinking — 'Everyone else is prone to biases and social factors, but not me'” — is common and confounds attempts to address conflicts.'At least some of our colleagues are wrong,' Appelbaum said drily of the study."

Healy offered some advice for how his profession can put some distance between it and the pharmaceutical industry.“The key issue in the short term is access to data. We have to insist on that,” he said. “We let industry come to our meetings and let them talk in our programs. I don’t think it’s huge problem that they get paid. The big problem is that if you ask for data, they can’t give it to you. That’s not science, that’s marketing masquerading as science.”

Daniel Carlat, M.D., director of the Pew Prescription Project, organized the session. Carlat once characterized pharma-sponsored Continuing Medical education (CME) as "a new twist on that well-known instrument of corruption, money laundering." Listen to the following podcast interview of Dr. Carlat on that issue:

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Who Has Actually Played BI's SYRUM Game? The Silence is Deafening!

During today's #hcsmeu chat session (see archive here) I asked "Truthfully - has any of my EU colleagues actually played SYRUM?"

There's been a lot of hype about Syrum previous to its launch by Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) in the EU (see here), but I've heard nothing post launch from anyone who has actually spent time playing the "game" (I'm told that it's not a form of "gamification").

"Who's the EU 'pharmaguy' who will take on this task and report back?", I asked.

Turns out that one person (Maria Öst, Sweden, aka @mariaatomaca) admitted she signed on to a beta account, but she didn't actually play the game. By signing on, Maria gave Syrum (and BI) permission to "post on [her] behalf" and "read [her] checkins" even if she does not play the game (see here).

According to @fision (Kai Gait, UK) Syrum opens "lots of potential opportunity in the future by accessing the interest graph of players" -- even if they don't actually play the game ("If a user doesn’t ‘disconnect’ the game, they [BI] still have access to data in theory," said @fision).

Felix Jackson (@felixjackson, UK, founder of medDigital) actually has played the game and said "I ... enjoyed it! I liked the way it showed me drug development." I thank Felix for taking the time to give me a live tour of the Syrum via Skype during which I saw a few peculiar things such as a masked avatar that looked like an Al Qaeda terrorist! I guess it was supposed to be a surgical mask. I've worked in a lab and I never saw anyone wear a mask. Maybe drug development labs are different.

One of the features of the game is that you can see friends on Facebook who have also signed on to play the game. You can "recruit" these friends to be members of your drug development team or you can collaborate with them. Unfortunately, none of Felix's FB friends -- including BI's John Pugh -- were able to collaborate with Felix because they didn't have any molecules under development (ie, they currently are not playing the game).

Meanwhile, Helen Harrison (@harrassedmom) alerted me to this "walk through" on YouTube:

By the time you read this, one or two other people I know on Twitter may tell me that they also have played Syrum. These people, however, are mostly like me -- not representative of Syrum's target audience, which is the general public. We won't know very much about how many of those people have signed on to play, how long they have played, etc., unless BI shares that information with us. That make take another 3 years -- I'll wait :-)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Shane Victorino: Adult ADHD Poster Boy

Adult ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is the "next big thing" for pharma companies like Shire, which markets Vyvanse for the treatment of ADHD in adults. So says the author of a Salon article titled "Big Pharma’s newest invention: Adult ADHD."
“Immature adult market continues to offer greatest commercial potential,” read a 2008 press release to the pharmaceutical industry from the market research agency Datamonitor: “Estimated to be twice the size of the pediatric ADHD population, the highly prevalent, yet largely untapped, adult ADHD population continues to represent an attractive niche to target.”
So who might consider themselves part of this “untapped” market?

Well, former Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino for one. The "Flyin' Hawaiian" is now an adult ADHD celebrity spokesperson appearing in magazine ads like the one shown below and in video testimonials like the one you can find on

If you talk to people in the know, Victorino is an ideal adult ADHD "poster boy." I've heard that Victorino was a mile-a-minute talker and often people around him wished he'd shut up. In a Shire-sponsored YouTube video, Victorino himself admits "always interrupting" his teammates and having problems focusing.

Interestingly, Victorino doesn't mention Vyvanse. It's unclear, therefore, if he benefited from Shire's drug, which entered the market in 2007, about 8 years into Victorino's major league career and about the time that Victorino became a starting player for the Phillies.

So it's unclear if Vyvanse -- or any other medication -- helped Victorino play ball as well as he did for the Phillies. Some have speculated, however, that his constant talking and interruption of teammates was one reason why the Phillies traded him. Could the trade be part of a devious Phillies plot to insert a disruption agent within the ranks of a rival team?

I'm just kidding, of course. Like many Phillies fans, I like Victorino and wish hime the best.

Unlike some other pharma-paid celebrities, Victorino is not promoting a brand of drug, but promoting awareness of a medical condition. Some people -- like the Salon article author -- claim that ADHD awareness marketing is a form of "disease mongering," which causes more people to be diagnosed with the condition than is necessary. But that's a whole other issue that I don't have time to get into now. You can read about disease mongering here.