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Key To Drug Marketing: Evolve, Evolve, Evolve

This article was originally published in The Pink Sheet Daily

Executive Summary

Drug companies looking to maintain successful marketing platforms in the social media age must change messages with the technology.

BOSTON - In the ever-shifting era of social media and online communications, drug companies must be willing to constantly evolve in order to roll out successful marketing campaigns. At Oncology Summit USA 2009, Sanofi-Aventis' Senior Director of Key Customer and Channel Marketing Christopher Leidli outlined the company's strategies for its on and offline success that has resulted in a finalist nomination for Best Disease Education Web Site from DTC National's 2009 Advertising Awards.

The biggest hurdle in keeping tabs on new technology development on the Web is the pace at which everything evolves, Leidli said. "You have to continue to evolve faster than the [plan of action] cycle. We are so used to rolling out campaigns that are tied to a POA cycle. These campaigns have got to be done faster."

Sanofi has deemed staying current such an important part of marketing that it has a team developing White Papers on social media. While remaining modern is a challenge, so is the lack of guidance by the FDA. In an effort to remain ahead of the curb, some companies have run into trouble with DDMAC. Most notable is Shire's Adderal You Tube debacle where carpenter celebrity Ty Pennington spoke about the ADHD drug sans risk information (1 (Also see "FDA’s Advertising Enforcement Turns Its Focus To YouTube, ADHD Drugs" - Pink Sheet, 6 Oct, 2008.), p. 12).

In contrast, Sanofi's YouTube channel, "Go Insulin," so far has appeared to pass muster with the agency. Created to work alongside the Web site,, the channel allows patients to talk about their success with insulin, but comments are vetted before being posted (2 (Also see "Social Media: Ignorance Not Bliss For Pharma, DIA Panelists Say" - Pink Sheet, 2 Mar, 2009.), p. 32). Also, Sanofi's YouTube channel is not product-specific; it does not mention the firm's long-acting insulin Lantus , and the company logo is the only self-promotion.

[Editor's note: Windhover is sponsoring a webinar on "How to Navigate Changing Trends in DTC Advertising." The May 20 event features Oregon Assistant Attorney General David Hart and McDermott, Will & Emery Counsel Arnold Friede. For 3 more information, visit, call 800-332-2181, or 4 e-mail customer care at [email protected].]

One of the most important tactics to successful advertising is to be where patients and caregivers are actively searching, stressed Leidli. "You need to identify the best channels to contact and engage patients to enhance their brand experience."

And there are many channels to choose from. Utilizing the suite of tools that is available is key, Leidli said, and that includes paid searches, banner ads, online advertising, landing pages, Web sites and e-mail campaigns, to name just a few.

Competing with Sanofi's Web site for colon/rectal cancer for best educational disease Web site is Shire's Web site for ADHD, Novartis' Web site for cystic fibrosis, UCB's Web site for rheumatoid arthritis and dLife's Web site for diabetes. The awards will be presented April 16 as part of the DTC National Conference in Washington, D.C.

- Lauren Smith ([email protected])


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