Pharma and Med-Tech: PR Insights from the Early Christmas Blitz


The holiday season is upon us. And with it another season’s worth of dismay at how early it starts. One minute you’re sneaking your kids’ Halloween candy, and the next you’re face to face with Santa at the mall after some time warp transported you into the holidays nearly two months ahead of time. It’s enough to turn anyone into a Grinch. But pharmaceutical and med-tech companies could take a cue from retail in this instance, because the time to prepare for a product’s commercialization is not just two months – but at least two years – before FDA approval.

That’s right. At least two years to “seed the market” for your product’s success. Here are five PR insights about what that entails.

Shifting your mindset.

Research is what gets you to “the next big thing,” so understandably that’s where your focus has been. But preparing for commercialization requires you to move from that singular goal/singular audience mindset to more “multi-level thinking.” Who needs to know about us? Where do we need to be seen? What publications do we need to be in? Before the market can trust in your product,


3 Legislative Watch Items Impacting the Health Industry

captureBREAKING NEWS: House passes Cures Act, which now includes mental health funding, Senate passage is expected

Has the ACA Really Been Trumped?

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Tom Price, MD, as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Both a surgeon and a congressman, Price seems as well qualified as anyone for the role. As an avid and tireless critic of Obamacare, Price has introduced alternative legislation in every session of Congress since 2009. The Empowering Patients First Act would effectively repeal the ACA and replace it with the following:

  • Refundable, age-adjusted tax credits that individuals would use to purchase individual and family health insurance policies
  • Ability to opt out of Medicare, Medicaid or Veterans Affairs benefits and receive the tax credit to buy an individual plan
  • Incentives for people to contribute to health savings accounts
  • State grants to subsidize insurance for “high-risk populations”
  • Interstate commerce of insurance plans
  • Association-style health plans for business/professional groups to provide insurance coverage

Some of Price’s other health-associated efforts have included supporting repeal of the Medicare SGR formula and adoption of MACRA, advocating for streamlined physician reporting requirements associated with value-based purchasing, and reigning in the authority…


Marijuana: The Next Big Headline Facing the NFL?

Photo from Nathan Shively

The National Football League has a marijuana image problem, and, no, it has nothing to do with Laremy Tunsil’s gas mask Twitter blunder.

For years, the League has taken a stringent stance on not allowing player marijuana use, including for medicinal purposes. The original, collectively bargained policy (between the NFL and the NFL Players Association) was born out of the 1980s “War on Drugs,” which listed marijuana in the same risk group as heroin.

Fast-forward to 2016, and little has changed in the policy; players are charged varying levels of fines and punishments based on the number of infractions.

However, recent polls highlight shifting viewpoints on medical marijuana use in the United States. On top of that, over 70 percent of NFL teams now play in states that allow medical marijuana after three states passed laws on ballot measures last week.

Another point of contention is the growing issue of opioid addiction across the country. This issue is given a face by personal stories from former NFL players like Eugene Monroe, who was recently featured in ESPN The Magazine. Instead of taking opioids to…


Active Facebook User = Longer Life?

Has Grandma recently posted an old photo of you on Facebook? Whether the photo was embarrassing or cute, it’s positively impacting her health, so just let it slide. A new study recently found that the social media platform could be associated with living longer. Shocked? Findings published in Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences found that the health effects of people (Baby Boomers and Gen Xers) active on social media largely mirrors the health benefits of a person’s offline social life.


What did they find? Researchers analyzed mortality data from California voters who either did or did not use Facebook and found users were 12 percent less likely to die within a given year than nonusers. Analyzing a different group of 12 million Facebook users born between 1945 and 1989, they found that people who had larger social circles lived longer than those whose networks were in the lowest 10 percent. In particular, the study found that “people with more friends online are less likely to die than their disconnected counterparts, contradicting assertions that social media has a net-negative impact on health.”

Additionally, the study found that people who posted the most photos, but


Five External Pressures Facing MedTech and Their Impact on Marketing Strategies


Last month, I attended the 2016 conference for AdvaMed (Advanced Medical Technologies Association). Five key external pressures for the medtech industry emerged. What are they and what do they mean to marketing and communications strategies?

  • Burden of product benefit is evolving – gone are the days of “benefits and features” selling products. Even clinical outcomes are no longer enough. Medtech companies must look for ways to quantify patient outcomes, economic outcomes and societal outcomes. Increasingly organizations are creating or partnering with health economic outcomes and research (HEOR) teams and bringing these insights into product development.
  • Economic uncertainty and taxes – changes in regional and global economies and the significance of events such as Brexit make planning more challenging. In the U.S., the medical device tax was suspended until 2017, but a decision to reinstate or repeal is looming and outside the U.S. the tax environment is changing. This uncertainty makes planning more difficult and is having a negative impact on research and development, investment and risk taking.
  • Operational challenges – large medtech companies continue to maintain global footprints and the associated facility and talent costs are being evaluated. IT infrastructure costs to upgrade existing systems are increasing across
  • Healthcare

    3 Priorities for Every 2017 Hospital Marketing Budget

    SOURCE: Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland

    As leaves change and temps fall, healthcare organizations that begin their fiscal year in January are finalizing budgets for 2017. With most hospitals grappling with flat or declining admissions, it’s now more important than ever for marketers to select the most impactful budget priorities. Fear not – PadillaCRT has outlined three priorities that should be on the radar of every hospital marketer.

    1. Deliver ROI with Your Digital Strategy

    Only 14 percent of 2015 healthcare marketing budgets were allocated to digital activities – significantly lower than almost any other industry. There isn’t necessarily a good reason for this, other than the fact that hospitals tend to be late adopters. Search engine marketing, social media, and geofencing are some of the most efficient, nimble and measurable marketing approaches.

    We know that more than 72 percent of U.S. healthcare consumers have gone online for health information in the past year. Ensure that your organization is top of mind by being in the right place at the right time. The right place might be choosing the right keyword to promote or sharing a patient story on the right social channel or promoting the right service while they are surfing on their mobile

    Digital Marketing

    3 Ways the Health Industry is Making Moves in 2016

    Let’s face it, not everyone is itching to talk about the latest ventures in health care, but that’s changing in 2016. As the industry itself expands, out-of-the-box approaches have as well, breaking many traditional molds in health communications. With big changes come big ideas – and health care marketers have delivered in 2016 – producing brilliant campaigns, products and technology. Below are just a few examples of how the industry is owning 2016.

    1. CVS’s product innovation: Keurig lovers meet medicine pods

    You read that right; just in time for all of you seasonal allergy sufferers, salvation has arrived. Most coffee lovers already think of their Keurig as a life saver, but this relationship is about to be taken to the next level. In late August, CVS released daytime and nighttime flu medicine pods that are compatible with Keurig, ultimately injecting the soothing powers of flu medicine into a warm, cozy drink.

    Credit: Huffington Post

    Credit: Huffington Post

    2. AddictAide creates faux Instagram celeb to raise alcoholism awareness

    As Instagram has grown, so has the age of social influencers. We see strangers all over social media who suddenly…


    Defenders of the healthcare brand


    How healthcare communication professionals can drive the top line while protecting the bottom line.

    For healthcare PR and marketing professionals, intentional communications has never been more important to the brand. Unprecedented consolidation in the industry continues as providers shift their business models from being rooted in volume to driving value. What’s more, technology has changed the way consumers, patients and even employees communicate, seek information and define “the news.”

    For healthcare communicators, these changes will fundamentally impact the way people perceive and experience your brand. Not to mention creating new risks to manage. The way you communicate can make or break your brand. In fact, according to a report published by Harvard Business Review, based on a global survey of nearly 600 executives across health and other industries, effective communications was identified as one of the top three factors most likely to bring success. And it’s worth noting that it ranked second only to delivering a high level of customer service.

    The good news is that most healthcare providers already are focusing on delivering a higher level of service, primarily through patient experience initiatives. The bad news is that most are not investing in enhancing communications. So while healthcare communicators have traditionally been thought of as promoters of the top line, today’s healthcare market requires them to be equally adept at protecting the bottom line.

    Building reputation through change
    If there’s

    Crisis Management

    #EpiGate: How Mylan is handling criticism over increased EpiPen pricing

    crisisaheadOver the last several months the heat around #EpiGate has been building. Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that owns the EpiPen emergency allergy treatment, has had to defend its price increases on the life-saving drug, which means the company’s crisis communications team has been spending a lot of time in the war room.

    Since 2004, the price of a pack of two EpiPens has risen from $100 to more than $600 today — a price that poses a significant barrier for patients whose insurance won’t cover the treatment. This issue is compounded by the fact that there are very few alternate solutions for patients. Mylan controls nearly 90 percent of the market for epinephrine injectors. Some patients have resorted to asking physicians to fill syringes with epinephrine and teach them how to administer them without the EpiPen technology. This alternative only costs around $20, adding further fuel to the fire around why EpiPens are so expensive.

    At the same time that the cost of the EpiPen rose, so did Mylan CEO Heather Bresch’s salary — from $2.4 million in 2007 when Mylan acquired the EpiPen to nearly $19 million in 2015 — further adding to the…


    The Internet vs. Your Doctor: Who to Trust

    At a recent doctor’s appointment, my physician told me a story about a woman who needed treatment, but left in the middle of the appointment, proclaiming, “That’s not what the Internet said!”

    Because we live in an age where consumers can find almost anything they’d like online, sometimes it’s hard to determine who to trust. I was recently reminded of this when the news came out that The American Academy of Pediatrics strengthened its warnings about prescribing codeine for children because of reports of deaths and risks for dangerous side effects including breathing problems. Even though the dangers have been presented, studies suggest it is still commonly prescribed by doctors and dentists despite the risks and lack of evidence that it works to relieve coughs.

    Sgty_cough_syrup_mm_160112_12x5_1600o when a doctor prescribes your child a medication that you’ve read several warnings about, what do you do?

    One colleague told me that she has no problem talking with her physician about issues like this. It helps build trust and makes her want to continue
    going back to the same doctor. And in an instance like this, there are several alternatives for children.

    Another colleague chooses to