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We’ve applied the expertise gained from producing briefings for over 30 leading medical associations, and from executing advertising campaigns for hundreds of leading healthcare companies, to bring you stories about healthcare marketers who are delivering results for their brands and clients. You’ll also find influential and exciting stories about innovations from the broader world of marketing and advertising.

March 26, 2020

Today's Top News

Experts Offer Considerations For Pharma Messaging During Pandemic

A pair of reports focus on issues pharma brands need to consider in their messaging. Medical Marketing & Media (3/25, Kanski) reports the W20 Group recommends in its Coronavirus Relevance report that pharma companies be consistently good storytellers, according to report co-author and digital intelligence and activation practice leader Chuck Hemann. In assessing how pharma companies are faring in brand relevance, W20 found “pharma brands Roche, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson landed in the top three most relevant healthcare brands during the COVID-19 outbreak.” Hemann added, “The companies that are remaining relevant to stakeholders even during this crazy time are ones who have the organizational muscle memory to be constantly communicating with both internal and external stakeholders and thinking about how their content, their message or their action is going to resonate with a broad group of stakeholders.”

FiercePharma (3/24, Snyder Bulik) reports McCann Health global CEO John Cahill’s “main piece of advice” is that pharma brands shouldn’t go overboard with their messaging around Covid-19. Pharma companies should instead look for opportunities to use their “strong authoritative voice” at the right times. Fierce says, “That means sticking to communicating as needed or when real news happens. For instance, as treatments and vaccines begin to reach development milestones, such as new trials, that would be a time for pharma to speak up alongside others working with them.” McCann Health also is telling clients “to continue the pivot to digital communications.”

#FierceMadness Drug-Name Contest Moves To Sweet 16 Round

FiercePharma (3/25, Snyder Bulik) reports the #FierceMadness drug name contest “is advancing to Round 3” with voting open for 32 contests in four disease-treatment categories. Winners in the most recent vote included the Infectious Diseases/Primary Care division, with Takeda’s Motegrity beating GlaxoSmithKline’s Dovato, “while Biktarvy bested Merck’s Pifeltro.” In the Rare Diseases/Miscellaneous division, “Dova’s play-in winner Doptelet topped Celgene’s Reblozyl, Alnylam’s Onpattro won over Akcea and Ionis’ Tegsedi, Pfizer’s Vyndaqel scored over Catalyst’s Firdapse, and Evolus’ Jeuveau bested Galderma’s Aklief.” In the Oncology division, “Bayer’s Nubeqa sent Astellas’ Xospata packing, while Beigene’s Brukinsa took out Bayer and Loxo’s Vitrakvi in a close contest. Meanwhile, Pfizer’s Talzenna eliminated Novartis’ Piqray, and in another close matchup, Sanofi and Regeneron’s Libtayo edged Pfizer’s Daurismo,” while “finally, in the CNS division, Amgen’s Aimovig continued to roll with a win over US Worldmeds’ Lucemyra” while “Novartis’ Mayzent topped Merck KGaA’s Mavenclad,” and “Jazz’ Sunosi prevailed against Harmony’s Wakix and Zolgensma topped Biocodex’ Diacomit.”

Biohaven Embraces Digital To Keep Nurtec ODT Launch On Track

FiercePharma (3/25, Sagonowsky) reports that “Biohaven is in the early stages of launching migraine med Nurtec ODT, and, in response to social distancing measures, the company has moved to a virtual-first approach to getting the word out.” Biohaven “is using webinars, telemedicine, DTC and social media to market its drug to both doctors and patients, CEO Vlad Coric said via email.” Additionally, the company is implementing “digital measures to communicate information to doctors and patients, Coric said.”

Pharma & Healthcare

Gilead Says It Will No Longer Seek Orphan-Drug Status For Remdesivir

The New York Times (3/25, Thomas) reports Gilead announced “it would no longer seek orphan-drug status for remdesivir, an experimental drug that is being tested as a possible treatment” for coronavirus, following “criticism that it was exploiting the coronavirus pandemic.” The FDA “granted the special designation on Monday – which gives drug companies a seven-year monopoly on sales, tax credits and expedited approval,” but “Gilead said it asked the agency to rescind the status.”

The AP (3/25, Perrone) reports the FDA announced the orphan drug status on Monday saying that COVID-19 qualified as a rare disease because fewer than 200,000 Americans are infected with coronavirus. However, a coalition of 50 consumer and patient advocacy groups wrote a letter criticizing the decision saying “COVID-19 is anything but a rare disease,” because millions of Americans are expected to become infected over the coming months.

Also reporting are NPR (3/25, Lupkin), Reuters (3/25, Mishra), Regulatory Focus (3/25, Brennan), FiercePharma (3/25, Blankenship), The Hill (3/25, Kelley), and BioPharma Dive (3/25, Gardner).

CEO: Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine Could Reach Healthcare Workers This Fall

FierceBiotech (3/25, Al Idrus) reports that “although Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is at least a year away from a widespread rollout, the company may provide the vaccine to a few people, which could include healthcare workers, as early as this fall.” Specifically, “Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told Goldman Sachs on Friday that the mRNA vaccine, dubbed mRNA-1273, ‘is not likely’ to be commercially available for at least 12 to 18 months.” He added, however, that “it is possible that under emergency use, a vaccine could be available to some people, possible including healthcare professionals, in the fall of 2020.”

Endpoints News (3/25, Carroll) also reports.

Mylan Waiving US Distribution Rights For Generic Of Kaletra

Reuters (3/25, Joseph) reports Mylan “said on Wednesday it had waived its exclusive U.S. distribution rights to its generic version of HIV treatment Kaletra, which is currently being tested against the coronavirus.” The move “would make other drugmakers eligible to seek U.S. approval for their generic versions of the drug and boost supply, which would help in case studies find that Kaletra is effective in treating COVID-19.” Kaletra “has been considered a potential treatment for the virus, although Chinese investigators have reported that it failed to improve outcomes for seriously ill patients.”

Also reporting are Investor’s Business Daily (3/25, Gatlin) and Seeking Alpha (3/25, House).

Novartis Partnering With Life Science Companies On Covid-19 Therapies

Reuters (3/26, Koltrowitz) reports, “Novartis said it was working with a consortium of [15] life sciences companies to accelerate the development, manufacture and delivery of vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for Covid-19.” The firms “have agreed to share their libraries of compounds that already have some degree of safety and activity data. Successful hits would move rapidly into in vivo trials in as little as two months.”

Mayo Clinic, Amazon, Healthcare Vendors Collaborating On Testing, Vaccine

FierceHealthcare (3/25, Landi) reports that “an industry coalition of health systems, tech giants and healthcare vendors are collaborating to increase COVID-19 testing and coordinate early therapies.” Notably, “the private industry effort, spearhead by Mayo Clinic’s John Halamka, M.D. and other industry leaders, plans to leverage the strengths of healthcare organizations, technology companies, non-profits, academia, and startups to provide a focused response to the coronavirus outbreak.” The intent “behind the effort is to crowdsource capabilities from the private sector and use data analytics and evidence-based decisions to respond to the health crisis.” Moving forward, “the coalition is seeking more industry partners to help share best practices.”

Media, Marketing & Communications

Companies Donate Campaigns, Ad Space To Coronavirus Messages

Adweek (3/25, Smiley) reports “a slew of media organizations, social platforms, ad tech companies, agencies and influencers are coming together” with the Ad Council to donate campaigns and ad space “to extend the reach and impact of COVID-19 messaging as the virus continues to spread throughout the U.S.” Donated space is coming from “Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Group Nine Media, Google, Pluto TV, Pinterest, TikTok, WarnerMedia and YouTube, as well as ad tech firms Xandr and TrueX.”

Campaign US (3/25, Heusner) reports the #alonetogether campaign is also backed by “the White House, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

Media Buyers Hustle To Create Plan B For Clients’ Plans During Pandemic

Two reports in the news cycle focus on how media buyers are reacting to the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic. Adweek (3/25, Lynch) reports “the rapid spread of COVID-19 has left the TV industry reeling and in ‘uncharted territory,’” including with ad sales that were tangled in sports events that were canceled. “Now that networks and marketers have had a week or two to regroup and strategize, they are carefully moving forward in the current climate, though currently taking a short-term view of the ‘new normal.’” Strategies vary, from moving the spend into other programming categories, to asking for money back, to pushing “media buys later in the year in the hopes that the MLB, NBA and/or NHL would resume play.” Inventory will be tight for delays, Adweek says.

The Drum (3/25, McCarthy) reports that media buying is experiencing “chaos,” and in the face of restricted movement by countries, states, or cities, “planners are being forced to rethink channels, comms and creative for almost every client.” The Drum explores how those channels are affected and how they are performing, noting that “gaming and esports briefs are crossing many desks for the first time.”

Survey Suggests Pandemic Impact On Ad Budgets Will Be “Pronounced” In Q2

Media Daily News (3/25, Mandese) reports a survey last week of some 200 advertisers and agency executives by Advertisers Perceptions found that “more than two-thirds (68%) of ad executives say they expect their ad spending for 2021 to be reduced due to the impact of COVID-19, but the most pronounced impact will be on the second quarter of this year.” Still, “only a third (34%) of ad executives said they’ve actually canceled a planned ad campaign, and only 45% said they pulled a current campaign, because of the crisis.”

Nextdoor App Becomes Platform For Neighbors Who Need Help Or Can Provide It

The New York Times (3/25, Herrman) reports that people are increasingly turning to the neighborhood networking app Nextdoor to ask for help and provide it during a time when there is little movement due to the pandemic. The Times offers examples from the New York area of people asking for prescription pickup, providing updates on available inventory in stores, and asking for computer and protective gear. Nextdoor has added neighborhood maps and a “groups” feature that allows users to “congregate around particular topics or causes” and see “local announcements and general safety guidelines.”

New Metric Developed To Measure “Cultural Inclusivity”

Ad Exchanger (3/25, Sluis) reports on “efforts to measure cultural inclusivity,” including “a new panel-based metric called the Cultural Insights and Impact Measure (CIIM)” that “is the result of a year-long project spearheaded by the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM).” The metric will be fully developed for upfronts, and “brands can use the CIIM metric even if they’re not a member of AIIM.” The new metric “allows brands to measure the presence of culturally specific values in an ad, as well as the TV program where the ad appears.”

More COVID-19 News

Treatment and Vaccine News

Sartorius Supporting Chinese Researchers’ Development Of Vaccine In Trials

Pharma Letter (3/25, Subscription Publication) reports, “German biotechnology firm Sartorius has supported CanSino Biologics and Major General Chen Wei’s team at the Institute of Bioengineering at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in China in their development of the first vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 to enter clinical trials.”

Regulators Explain How They Will Balance Need For Data, Rapid Development

The Pink Sheet (3/25, Sharma, Subscription Publication) reports drug regulators from around the world “have issued details of how they intend to strike a balance between requiring enough robust data to enable decision-making and supporting the rapid development” of potential vaccines for COVID-19. On a March 18 meeting, representatives from over 20 drug regulatory agencies “agreed on the type and extent of preclinical data needed before first-in-human (FIH) clinical trials with SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates can start.” The representatives “reached consensus on ways to address the theoretical risk for vaccine-induced disease enhancement prior to proceeding with FIH clinical trials.”

WPost Examines Reasons For Long Development Time For Vaccines, Treatments

The Washington Post (3/25, Lauerman) discusses why drugs and vaccines for coronavirus take time to develop. The piece explains that “even if a treatment shows promise in laboratory, animal or even early human experiments, rigorous testing is needed to prove that it’s both safe and effective.”

CVS Will Be Limiting Purchases, Prescriptions For Hydroxychloroquine

Fox Business (3/25, Carter) reports CVS “announced Wednesday that pharmacy CVS Caremark is implementing new measures to balance the growing demand for off-label use of certain medicines to treat COVID-19 with the needs of customers who use them for chronic conditions.” A company spokesperson told FOX Business, “Our goal is to limit stockpiling of medication that could result in future shortages and gaps in care.” For pharmacies in states with guidelines, the pharmacies “are following dispensing guidelines regarding the use” of hydroxychloroquine. For pharmacies in states with no guidelines, “the limit on those meds for COVID-19 is a 10-day supply with no refills.”

Grifols Agrees To Work With FDA On Plasma As Potential Therapy

Reuters (3/25, Binnie) reports, “Spain’s Grifols has agreed to work with the” FDA “and other agencies to gather plasma from patients who have recovered from” the novel coronavirus “and test potential therapies for the disease, the pharmaceutical firm said on Wednesday.”

EMA Releases New Draft Guideline On Clinical Trial Methodology

Regulatory Focus (3/25, Brennan) reports the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Wednesday “released for consultation a new draft guideline on points that clinical trial sponsors should consider on the implications of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on methodological aspects of ongoing trials.” The EMA’s Biostatistics Working Party calls on sponsors “to pre-plan how systematic deviations resulting from the measures and individual decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic are captured,” as well as to “record such deviations and the related reasons for them.”

More COVID-19 News

Treatment and Vaccine News

Sartorius Supporting Chinese Researchers’ Development Of Vaccine In Trials

Pharma Letter (3/25, Subscription Publication) reports, “German biotechnology firm Sartorius has supported CanSino Biologics and Major General Chen Wei’s team at the Institute of Bioengineering at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in China in their development of the first vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 to enter clinical trials.”

Regulators Explain How They Will Balance Need For Data, Rapid Development

The Pink Sheet (3/25, Sharma, Subscription Publication) reports drug regulators from around the world “have issued details of how they intend to strike a balance between requiring enough robust data to enable decision-making and supporting the rapid development” of potential vaccines for COVID-19. On a March 18 meeting, representatives from over 20 drug regulatory agencies “agreed on the type and extent of preclinical data needed before first-in-human (FIH) clinical trials with SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates can start.” The representatives “reached consensus on ways to address the theoretical risk for vaccine-induced disease enhancement prior to proceeding with FIH clinical trials.”

WPost Examines Reasons For Long Development Time For Vaccines, Treatments

The Washington Post (3/25, Lauerman) discusses why drugs and vaccines for coronavirus take time to develop. The piece explains that “even if a treatment shows promise in laboratory, animal or even early human experiments, rigorous testing is needed to prove that it’s both safe and effective.”

CVS Will Be Limiting Purchases, Prescriptions For Hydroxychloroquine

Fox Business (3/25, Carter) reports CVS “announced Wednesday that pharmacy CVS Caremark is implementing new measures to balance the growing demand for off-label use of certain medicines to treat COVID-19 with the needs of customers who use them for chronic conditions.” A company spokesperson told FOX Business, “Our goal is to limit stockpiling of medication that could result in future shortages and gaps in care.” For pharmacies in states with guidelines, the pharmacies “are following dispensing guidelines regarding the use” of hydroxychloroquine. For pharmacies in states with no guidelines, “the limit on those meds for COVID-19 is a 10-day supply with no refills.”

Grifols Agrees To Work With FDA On Plasma As Potential Therapy

Reuters (3/25, Binnie) reports, “Spain’s Grifols has agreed to work with the” FDA “and other agencies to gather plasma from patients who have recovered from” the novel coronavirus “and test potential therapies for the disease, the pharmaceutical firm said on Wednesday.”

EMA Releases New Draft Guideline On Clinical Trial Methodology

Regulatory Focus (3/25, Brennan) reports the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Wednesday “released for consultation a new draft guideline on points that clinical trial sponsors should consider on the implications of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on methodological aspects of ongoing trials.” The EMA’s Biostatistics Working Party calls on sponsors “to pre-plan how systematic deviations resulting from the measures and individual decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic are captured,” as well as to “record such deviations and the related reasons for them.”

Disease Developments

Immunity Of Covid-19 Survivors Likely Important For Community, Treatments

The New York Times (3/25, Mandavilli) reports researchers believe individuals who survive Covid-19 infections can become immune to the virus, despite “some significant unknowns,” and this potential immunity is “important for several reasons.” It could “help shore up the work force” and allow for herd immunity. In addition, “Immunity may also bring an early treatment. Antibodies gathered from the bodies of those who have recovered may be used to aid those struggling with the illness caused by the coronavirus, called Covid-19.”

Hospitals Consider Remote Monitoring A Potential Solution To Lack Of Beds

STAT (3/25, Ross) reports hospitals across the US “are weighing the use of new technologies to monitor patients from their homes” in order “to free up beds for only the sickest” patients with COVID-19. Physicians at “several hospitals said their discussions with makers of these devices have kicked into high gear in recent days after the FDA issued guidance indicating it would not object to modifications in the use or functionality of remote patient monitoring tools during the outbreak.”

Companies, Laboratories Rushing To Produce Coronavirus Blood Tests

Reuters (3/25, Terhune, Martell, Steenhuysen) reports “several academic laboratories and medical companies are rushing to produce...[coronavirus] blood tests, which can quickly identify disease-fighting antibodies in people who already have been infected but may have had mild symptoms or none at all.” This is an effort to replace “the current, sometimes hard-to-come-by diagnostic tests that draw on a nasal swab to confirm active infection.”

UK Government Orders 3.5M Home-Testing Kits For Coronavirus

Bloomberg (3/25) reports the UK government “has ordered 3.5 million home-testing kits that show whether someone has been exposed to the coronavirus, and they’ll be available within days, a health official said.” The coronavirus “tests will be distributed when scientists from Oxford University finish evaluating them for public use, according to Sharon Peacock, director of the U.K.’s National Infection Service.”

Reuters (3/25) reports on the current testing supply shortage and bottleneck in the UK. Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, explained in a news conference that despite the shortage, “Britain had conducted more tests than most other European countries.”

The Washington Examiner (3/25, Mastrangelo) reports the home “tests would take only 15 minutes to administer and indicate if a patient has previously had the virus, not if they currently are positive for COVID-19.” With the tests, “patients will prick a finger and drop a drip of blood in the test for analysis, similar to a blood glucose monitoring test.” Peacock explained, “Several million tests have been purchased for use. ... These are brand new products. We have to be clear they work as they are claimed to do.” The home testing “kits will be available for purchase in pharmacies and for delivery through Amazon.com, the government said.”

Reuters (3/25) reports in a separate article.

Medtronic Ramping Up Ventilator Production

CNBC (3/25) provides coverage of comments by Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak discussing the company’s work in ramping up ventilator production.

Tech Companies Playing Crucial Role In Coronavirus Pandemic Response

STAT (3/25) reports “tech companies large and small are coming forward as crucial players in the response to the coronavirus crisis. Increasingly maligned over the last few years amid a series of privacy scandals, the industry is earning praise from admirers who believe it’s stepping up.”

Opinion: Information Must Be Gathered As COVID-19 Tests Are Administered

Farzad Mostashari, M.D., the CEO of Aledade Inc., and Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., the chairman of the department of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, write in STAT (3/24, Mostashari), “Despite three weeks of assurances, most Americans who have symptoms of Covid-19 still can’t get tested for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease. ... The hardest-hit states are rationing tests to health workers and those who have Covid-19 symptoms. The Trump administration, meanwhile, continuously reassures us that we are getting more and more testing out there.” They argue, though, that “while increasing the number of tests is absolutely necessary, it is not sufficient. If we want to stop Covid-19, we must also focus on gathering other essential information as these tests are administered. There’s little value to getting a bunch of positive test results without being able to understand the clinical conditions of the individuals they came from, how they were exposed to SARS-CoV-2, and, perhaps most importantly, how they compare to people who test negative.”

Supply Chain

Drug Manufacturers In China May Have Cut Production By Almost 40%

Bloomberg Law (3/25, Edney, Subscription Publication) reports drug manufacturers in China “may have cut production by almost 40% early this year as the novel coronavirus spreads there, according to a U.S.-based group that supplies the basic tools for testing the quality of many medicines.” The production cut may also result in a shortage for select products, even as China attempts to increase production to pre-virus levels. Any new shortages “could add to a long list of existing drug deficits that have deviled hospitals in the U.S. and elsewhere just as the need for intensive care surges.”

Mylan Says India’s Coronavirus Lockdown Will Not Impact Drug Production

Barron’s (3/25, Nathan-Kazis) reports Mylan said drug factories in India are exempt from the country’s “stay-at-home order issued Tuesday, and that Mylan’s facilities in India are continuing to operate.”

US Prescription Drug Supply May Be Threatened By Coronavirus

In a commentary for U.S. News & World Report (3/25, Strom, Schell), Holly Strom and Kenneth Schell of Strom Associates write that “the threat of medicine disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic may pose a larger threat to public health than the virus itself.” According to the authors, “coronavirus-related supply-chain interruptions in China, which along with India is responsible for 80% of America’s generic drug supply, may cause severe shortages of essential medicines, including antibiotics, heart drugs and painkillers, in the U.S.” The Food and Drug Administration announced last month “the first domestic drug shortage due to a manufacturing disturbance caused by the coronavirus,” and “the number of medicine shortages will likely only grow in the coming weeks alongside coronavirus cases,” Strom and Schell predict.


Healthcare Marketing Daily is a digest of the most important news related to pharmaceutical marketing in the digital space selected from thousands of sources by the analysts of BulletinHealthcare. This service is being provided to quickly disseminate news items of interest to key influencers in the pharma marketing community.

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