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The Convergence of Pharma Celebrity Spokespersons and Web 2.0

September 24th, 2010 by Cliffprf Mintz

Over the past few months, a number of celebrities have agreed to help pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies pitch their products in direct-to-consumer advertising campaigns. Perhaps this is related to the economic downturn and these actors are having trouble finding high paying gigs to support their lifestyles. Alternatively, their motives may be altruistic or they or one of their loved ones may suffer from a life-altering or threatening illness.

The latest addition to the celebrity pitchperson parade is the soap opera diva Susan Lucci. After her husband Helmut Huber was unexpectedly diagnosed a decade ago with atrial fibrillation—a type of irregular heartbeat that increase the risk of stroke five-fold, Lucci yesterday announced that she and her husband would partner with Boehringer Ingelheim the National Stroke Association and StopAfib.org to launch a new education campaign to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation. Financial terms of the relationship were not disclosed.

In other news, Amgen and Pfizer yesterday announced the joint launch of "Psophisticated Style:  A Guide to Everyday Style and Psoriasis™," an online resource, providing a wealth of style advice specifically for people with psoriasis.

The new online presence will be hosted by B-list celebrity Tim Gunn, mentor to the designers on TV's "Project Runway" and chief creative officer of Liz Claiborne, Inc. and dermatologist Susan C. Taylor, M.D., the style guide includes five videos, which illustrate various style issues for individuals with psoriasis. Practical and insightful highlights from each video are also available and can be printed.  The new website is well designed and has a decidedly web 2.0 look and feel to it. And, you can even follow Psophisticated Style on Facebook and share the site with your friends!

According to a press release Addressing Psoriasis™ was developed to inspire people with plaque psoriasis to actively manage their condition, be more confident and not allow the condition to inhibit their everyday style. 

Despite the slow uptake, Pharma’s attitude on the use of social media is beginning to shift. Last week, Eli Lilly &Co announced the launch of Lilly Pad a blog and twitter feed designed to provide information and helpful tips to patients with diabetes. Yesterday at the Business Development Institute’s HealthCare Social Communications Leadership Forum in Manhattan, Todd Siesky , Public Relations Manager, Roche Diabetes Care described an innovative and creative initiative (started two years ago) to establish a network of influential bloggers in the diabetes space. The bloggers are not paid and do not benefit financially from their interactions with the company. Roche interacts with the blogging network on a quarterly basis and has held two summits to bring the bloggers together to brainstorm and interact with one another (Roche covers airfare and hotel accommodations).

Also, Ted Phelan, Senior Regional Scientific Manager Medical Affairs at Astra Zeneca gave an illuminating talk about his company’s efforts to build a physician community in the gastrointestinal therapeutic space. Ted’s take away from his impromptu presentation (the originally scheduled Astra Zeneca representative couldn’t attend) was you won’t be successful unless you understand the needs of community members (he is married to a physician).

For those of you who may not closely follow the pharmaceutical social media space, building Facebook fan pages and creating a Twitter feed are no longer de rigueur. Instead, the next big thing is building company-sponsored, unbranded, online patient and physician communities around different therapeutic indications! Move over Patients Like Me, there may be some new kids on the block in the very near future!

Until next time...

Good Luck and Good Tweeting!!!!!


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Tags: Diabetes, News, Politics and Technology in Medicine, Psoriasis

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