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IT & Communication

cian engagement while preventing dilution or distortion.

communications with these opinion leaders and a company’s target popu- lation enhances the company’s credi- bility. Health 2.0 also offers the oppor- tunity to build awareness through viral marketing campaigns. In a survey by ORC Guideline looking at 2012 market- ing plans, U.S. pharmaceutical market- ers weighted websites and emerging media as more important than tradi- tional marketing channels.10 Capgemini Consulting recom-

mends life sciences companies establish POL relationships to help broaden the reach of their message and increase their proportion of a consumer’s “share of mind.” This type of relationship for life sciences companies is a challenge that must be internally managed, given the risk associated with and resistance to the potential loss of control of the marketing message. Life sciences companies are now

accepted as part of physician online communities, with 59% of physicians welcoming pharma participation on physician social networks.11

With an

average physician age of 47, Sermo allows visitors to poll the community and post questions and also features icons located next to targeted conver- sations to facilitate access to relevant pharma information and services.12



Risk Tolerance for improved market Benefits Health 2.0 is not without risks, which has limited the adoption of these tools by life sciences companies, espe- cially in a risk-adverse and uncertain healthcare environment. The challenges primarily are: Loss of control over messaging Regulatory and compliance concerns Measuring ROI Effective execution Life sciences companies need to

holistically weigh the benefits against the risks, as the opportunities can be substantial when looking at the over- all potential return across the product lifecycle.

Loss of Control over the Marketing Message Social media requires collaboration and transparency, leading to a natural loss of control over the message. As messages get re-communicated, they can get distorted. Traditionally, life sciences companies provide complete product information and education in static forms: marketing collateral and company-controlled product informa- tion websites. Marketing campaigns using viral or social media should be designed to enable patient or physi-

Increased Uncertainty Surrounding Regulatory Restrictions and Adverse Event Reporting Tight monitoring is required and fast responses are needed if marketing messages are modified or misrep- resented when forwarded. As social media evolves, tools like Google Sidewiki can enable unauthorized comments “alongside” a company’s own web pages, which can be moni- tored but not controlled, heighten- ing the need for ongoing stakeholder interaction. Online media and the mobile

environment make it difficult for life sciences companies to fully disclose all risks and benefits. In 2009, control- led media, like display search engine ads, resulted in six life sciences companies receiving fines by the FDA due to the lack of risk information; responsibility for information that is not controlled by those companies is even more difficult to contain. Social media, like Twitter with its limit on characters, also restricts the feasibil- ity of including risk information. POLs and KOLs do not have vested interests in providing balanced information. With this in mind, the challenge facing life sciences companies is how they can enable these types of communi- cation while complying with FDA rules for providing full disclosure. FDA hearings on social media on

November 11-12, 2009 highlighted life sciences companies’ interest in receiving clarity on this topic, espe- cially given the concern about poten- tial increased adverse event reporting and the anonymity of the web. FDA guidelines for social media have not been released, but the FDA recognized the need to address several issues: Clarity is needed on how life sciences companies should handle adverse event reporting while

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