Death of an opioid salesman

Purdue Pharma—which has seen negative press due to lawsuits alleging negligence in its opioid marketing campaigns—has decided the opioid marketing thing isn’t going well. Starting Feb. 12, Purdue’s just gonna stop promoting its opioid products like OxyContin to prescribers. Of course, there are people at Purdue whose job description is “promote opioid products to prescribers,” so if you’re looking for new sales team members, approximately 200 will be looking for a new job soon. It’s a positive move for the opioid manufacturer, which has been trying to recast itself as an ally in the fight against the US opioid epidemic. It’s also a decently jarring reversal from targeting high-volume prescribers with its marketing efforts, so we’ll see how genuinely people will perceive the action.

.com.org.net.cool

Grabbing a good website name is tricky business, namely because a lot of the simple ones are taken, or really expensive. For instance, a search for “Pharma.com” finds that domain already taken (but not live online), the next alternative is listed as “Pharma.tech” which is $6,499, and surprisingly, “Pharma.cool” was only five bucks so you know InsightCity had to snap that one up. Johnson & Johnson had the forethought to nab Cancer.com a while ago, and after two years under construction they’ve finally made it live on the web. It’s not a promo site for J&J’s oncology offerings; they’ve partnered up with a few cancer orgs like the owners of Cancer.org—the American Cancer Society—to provide a repository of info and tools for all kinds of cancer patients. So that’s .cool.

No celebs here

While some drug brands are turning to celebrity endorsers to give their advertising efforts a boost, Merck has gone the other way in an advertisement for their new immuno-oncology drug, Keytruda. Meet Donna, a patient in Merck’s Keynote-024 drug trial that ultimately led to the drug’s approval. Why might celebs be more appropriate for some conditions than others? Maybe the extraordinarily personal and serious nature of a late-stage cancer diagnosis lends itself to not faking it? It’s probably smarter—and more effective—to have a real patient talking about her actual experiences with advanced non-small cell lung cancer and her treatment than, say, Tiger Woods, who once tried to convince us he drove a super ugly Buick.

2. Easier to understand – Quantum physics or DTC pharma ads?

Side effects of reading this might include… What does over $5 billion in DTC ad spending get drug makers these day? Answer: Confused patients. InCrowd surveyed 319 US physicians to gauge their views on patient understanding of DTC ads. 65% of the surveyed MDs said their patients do not generally understand info given in pharmaceutical ads. Only a measly 13% of docs said “most of my patients can interpret/understand” these ads. Brand managers won’t be jumping for joy over these stats.  While one-third of physicians would like to ban the ads completely, the other two-thirds think the ads should be improved. InsightCity would like to heartily congratulate any company that keeps the list of disclaimers under one minute.

2. Opioids: Please take with full disclosure

In an attempt to control the ever-increasing threat of opioid addiction in the United States, Pfizer and the city of Chicago have paired up to set a precedent for responsible opioid marketing and promotion. The pharmaceutical giant was fully on board with a code of conduct drawn up by Chicago, requiring them to disclose addiction risks and efficacy limitations in promotional material for their opioid brands. Sketchy opioid promotion has recently caught fire recently, with Purdue Pharma (the makers of OxyContin) taking the most heat; the company ultimately plead guilty to charges of misleading the public about OxyContin’s addictive properties. With a vast number of pharma companies producing opioid pain-killers, the hope is that the Chicago-Pfizer agreement will spearhead an industry-wide shift towards ethical advertising.