Thursday 8 March 2012

Pharma Marketing-Conference-Epharma

Thoughts from ePharma Summit 2011

What’s an ePharma Summit 2011?
Today I attended the ePharma Summit 2011 in New York City. It’s a huge conference with more than 500 people attending from industry, agencies, and various vendors interested in the broad topic of digital pharma marketing. The agenda can be found online. The conference continues through the end of the day tomorrow. You can follow the Twitter stream at #epharma.
As a sidenote, it's interesting to look back at my past reviews of this conference and compare:
7 Things I Learned at ePharma Summit 2010, Some Early Nuggets from epharma Summit (2009) and More 2009 epharma Summit Observations
Anyway ... this year, there are lots of great people tweeting and we’re all trying to provide coverage between bad wifi and dying laptop/iPad/phone batteries (due to lack of power strips). Ah, technology! I was able to attend most of the conference except for when concurrent programs were running. I was able to tweet, except when my laptop battery died. So here, I wanted to provide a brief recap of what I saw as highlights of the day:

  • Paul Ivans of Evolution Road chaired the event. A comfortable and knowledgeable presenter, Paul did a nice job kicking things off and moderating the entire day. One of my favorite quotes from him: “The rep arms race is over; we need alternatives to replace the sales gap.” This was also one of the most re-tweeted tweets of the entire day. In other words? It resonated.
  • Standout presentations of the morning included several thought-provoking, futuristic talks from Thomas Goetz (Wired Magazine) and Bob Harrell (Shire Pharmaceuticals). Who knew someone created a creepy robotic dog that can right itself when pushed over? Innovation is inspiring, and their examples were good reminders that we need to never be satisfied with the status quo when it comes to health technology.
  • Tom Abrams from FDA spoke. I’m not sure if attendees were expecting little hints, valuable nuggets, or all-out social media DDMAC guidance. But whatever they expected, they were disappointed. I’ll let friend and blogger Steve Woodruff explain why in his rant here. 
  • I stepped away from the big ballroom to engage in three “unconference” round-table sessions after lunch covering the following topics:
    • Encouraging patient-physician engagement. The question was asked if pharma should even have a role in this, if they should try to intersect that conversation. I say yes, as long as there is value for all parties.
    • Unbranded vs. branded marketing. What’s the value of unbranded? In what situations should pharma be engaging in unbranded marketing? (For some thoughts on that, see these past blog posts)
    • Marketing to niche and rare disease categories online. The opportunity for social media to reach these groups was discussed, as well as the importance of partnerships between pharma and academia.
  • The surprisingly engaging keynote that wrapped up the day was Survivor Africa star – and cancer survivor star – Ethan Zohn. Proving out his credo “never let a crisis go to waste,” Ethan shared less about Survivor Afrrica and more about Survivor Ethan and his scary bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 35. He “survived,” and he’s paying it forward by funding several charitable endeavors with his winnings. Inspiring! Read more about Ethan’s story here at, including his videos, and also read about his charity, Grassroot Soccer.
There were several other good presentations and panels but there's only so much time and room to cover the conference. It’s always great to re-connect with past friends and faces and meet new ones too. That, to me, is the real value of these gatherings. And I look forward to more engagement, greetings and meetings tomorrow.
Stay tuned! And send power strips ... read more..

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