What charity has the worst reputation in public relations? The answer is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA for short. The organisation has a relatively low profile in Ireland but is constantly in the news in the US (and elsewhere) with campaigns that relentlessly push the boundaries of good taste. PETA will exploit any person or individual in a bid to get their message in the news and a strategically-placed billboard is often their platform of choice. When Jacqueline Fleming became the first person in Europe to die of swine flu in 2009, a massive outboard advertising sign appeared near the Glasgow hospital where she was treated bearing the slogan ‘Meat Kills – Go Vegetarian’. One can only guess how her family felt as they cared for her newborn son. PETA have also exploited the planned burning of the Koran in Florida, the BP Oil Spill and used Hitler imagery to target the Crufts Dog Show in Birmingham. So you can imagine how interested we were when the charity, spotting an opportunity in cardiac health, sent an astonishing poster to one Dr James T. Willerson, president and medical director of the Texas Heart Institute (THI). And, yes, you’ll have to click to see it…
It won't make it here in time for Christmas-related 'fatigue' but Irish consumers are likely to soon be able to buy the first over-the-counter remedy specifically designed to tackle hangovers. Scientists in the US are predicting that Blowfish will provide relief from all the symptoms of excessive alcohol consumption – nausea, vomiting and fatigue – in just 15 minutes. Intriguingly, the intervention – which contains a mix of active ingredients already available in various OTC painkillers and indigestion remedies – was pioneered by a shrewd entrepreneur with no pharmaceutical background who realised that many of the big OTC medicine players were unwilling to be explicit in targeting alcohol-related illness.
Hats off to Rafter's Medical Centres in Dublin who recently became the first GPs we've spotted using the Groupon on-line deals newsletter to grow their business. In what is certainly good news for budget-pummelled consumers, the groups' two practices in Rathmines and Churchtown offered a medical consult, blood test and ECG for the princely sum of €59. The advertisement left us wondering what colleagues in other Dublin primary care centres will make of such an approach to general practice?
What's in a name? Well, quite a lot if you're Facebook and you've become embroiled in a row involving two pharmaceutical companies who share the same name. The prescription medicines market has always been a surprisingly small community with a limited number of companies accounting for a host of different interventions. So the presence of German Merck KGaA and American Merck & Co was always likely to cause some confusion. Now, the German company has gone to court in New York to force Facebook to explain how it happened that its US namesake allegedly took over its page on the social networking site.
If your name looks like it came straight from the script of Iron Man 3 and you're in charge of a cutting-edge Pentagon medical research unit, it makes Hollywood sense that your current project would involve investigating psychiatric medicines in the hope of finding a compound that can block fear. If anyone wants an interesting speaker for their medical event, we'd suggest sending an email to Colonel Christian Macedonia MD, a military physician (pictured) who is working towards creating a fearless 'supersoldier'.
Most pharma companies realise the importance of having an online presence – whether that be through a website, Facebook page or a Twitter profile. But, given the host of much-lauded new platforms, it's easy to overlook the value of that less hip core internet resource – the company website. Now, a new survey of consumers suggests that companies who overlook this most basic online presence do so at their peril.