Lung cancer? Complex and scary. So how should Pharma engage patients?

It is often said that when a person hears the word “cancer” anything following goes unheard; the topic is truly that scary and that emotional. In our culture, until recently, lung cancer = death. Yet now cancer treatments are going through a revolution; in some cases many can live with this disease – even recover from it! Several giant pharmaceutical companies are investing heavily in this new immuno-therapy science. How do you communicate that complex science to patients? Especially when then U.S. government claims the average American reads at a 6th grade level.

Given the high expense and other issues patients have, connecting with them and caregivers is crucial to creating product awareness and advantage But the brand-centricity usual to Pharma has given way to patient-centricity, forcing the industry to explore new engagement strategies. Here are a few:

  1. Start with science. Merck has created the “Test. Talk. Take action” campaign. In a short animated video, they do their best to simplify the complex, then drive the patient to discuss with their doctor — arming them with testimonials and discussion guides.

http://www.testtalktakeaction.com/

Merck2.

2. Dumb it down: Novartis uses even simpler animation to lecture you (a British accent helps make it acceptable) on how cancer works and how immuno-therapy works. Think of that 6th grade reading level and view the video with that limitation. Is it too dumb? Complex that is rendered simply?

https://youtu.be/sdXXmlc5GCs

3. Be Human: AstraZeneca (led by Richard’s story….even his Pinterest postings covering his journey to recovery!) The UX is well done and the content of text and video stories is quite emotional and compelling.

https://www.lvng.com/

https://www.lvng.com/richards-rays.html

The singular focus on the humanity of suffering and treating lung cancer is a very lean-in experience. AstraZeneca gives voice to the miracles these treatments create and engages across several Social Media platforms. Now we are getting to the essence of Humanity at it’s most raw and hopeful.

Why is this hot? Disease education from pharma companies minus mentioning any specific brand is not a new strategy. What is different, is the overt use of humanity, interactive education, and Social Media – separate or mashed together. This shows that these companies are trying to educate, and in doing so, motivate patients to ask for their therapy — the early stages of true consumer marketing: engage, be personally relevant and drive-to-sale. For a highly conservative industry, this is a good evolution.

Last, this has the foreshadowing of a disruptor. Pharma sales reps for decades had easy access to doctors to deliver scientific and branded messages; today, access to those doctors is under 50%. Is it possible that a well-informed, empowered patient can actually act as a proxy for a sales force rep. that can’t get in the hospital door? Is this a movement to make the patient their own sales rep?

Awareness Campaign Takes Human Approach

Merck & Co. has a plan for boosting its immuno-oncology treatment, Keytruda, in head-and-neck cancer. And it relies on patients making plans of their own.

The New Jersey-based pharma giant has teamed up with Pro Football Hall of Famer and head-and-neck cancer survivor Jim Kelly for a new awareness campaign, “Your Cancer Game Plan.” The effort focuses on encouraging patients and their loved ones to craft support strategies, taking into account their emotional, nutritional and communication needs.

The particularities of head-and-neck cancer can hit patients both physically and emotionally. The disease sometimes hinders their ability to talk, triggers changes in their facial features or makes it difficult to eat, a Merck spokesperson explained in an email interview.

“Having a ‘game plan’ can help patients and their support teams be prepared for those kinds of challenges and complexities,” the spokesperson said.

Kelly, for his part, knows those “special challenges” firsthand. “My experience taught me so much about the importance of emotional support and taking care of myself, and I hope that by sharing my experience, I can inspire others to take action and know their game plan,” he said in a statement.

Merck first won FDA approval for its cancer star Keytruda in the disease back in August, and until now its patient-education activities have centered on providing information through the Keytruda product website and patient brochures. Going forward, the company’s goal is to continue the new awareness campaign “for some time,” the spokesperson said.

Why It’s Hot

Although the brand is ultimately becoming more widely known, the approach that Merck is taking is more human than many pharma ads out there.  They’re not simply promoting their drug and talking about side effects- they are promoting the campaign by trying to help people prepare and cope with their illness and what can happen to them.  Many pharma brands forget that they’re not talking to a condition- they’re talking to people, with big physical and emotional needs- ESPECIALLY when it comes to cancer.  By becoming a support system (or helping their patients build one), a brand becomes more than just  pill you take… they become a trusted resource.  There should be more brands doing this in the space.

 

Source: http://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/merck-recruits-football-star-jim-kelly-to-help-head-and-neck-cancer-patients-craft-their

Cameras in the body. (Get my good side!)

Body Sensors Daso 3.9.16

There have been several Sci-fi movies over time that tell the story of people being shrunken down to then ride the blood stream and fix some horrific problem someone is suffering from. Well, forget shrinking people, the healthcare industry device manufacturers and many small start-ups have started an upward swing in using micro-cameras and sensors to help play the first line of defense in detecting diseases.

Examples? Sensors that are either ingested or inserted under the skin that can detect breast cancer, COPD, sight degeneration: that is just a sample of the Gold Rush to get a sensor or camera in your body.

One camera, created in Scotland, is using infrared to detect cancer growths in certain parts of the body. Said research associate Dr. Mohammed Al-Rawhani, in a university news release:  “The system could also be used to help track antibodies used to label cancer in the human body, creating a new way to detect of cancer.”

As of today, the FDA approved PillCam COLON2 (you really have to wonder who picks these names) which will be used for hi-risk colorectal cancer patients, a disease which is the 2nd biggest killer in the U.S.

HS Medtronic pill 4.1.16

Why is this hot? For two reasons: first, it is a sign that the reliance on technology is changing the observational role of the doctor — they are trained to watch your every gesture, emotions, words, all weighed against experience and intuition to lead a doctor down the detective path to a diagnosis. Sensors and cameras start to make them health technologists. Second, this will also enable to get ahead of many diseases, not behind. Don’t we all secretly, in some dark moment, wonder if a tumor is growing somewhere in your body, unknown and lurking?  That fear and the thousand shadows of uncertainty will be gone in a decade or less.

People Ignore a Giant Lump Growing on a Street (Cancer PSA Stunt)

It’s a PSA for Cancer Research U.K., which wanted to communicate that British people are missing the first signs of cancer. Well, no wonder they ignore small lumps in their bodies when they just walk right past weird giant lumps growing in the real world.

Why It’s Hot:
This stunt taps into the notion that many of us go about our days, missing what’s right in ‘front’ of us and uses consumer behavior to underscore an important message.