Here’s some food for thought for anyone considering a celebrity spokesperson for an awareness campaign or a well known face for a PR photo shoot: business leaders are more persuasive than athletes, movie stars or musicians.
According to a Harris Interactive poll of more than 2,000 adults, 37% of consumers find famous business leaders to be most persuasive as product endorsers. Naturally, politicians came in last with just 10% of respondents ranking them most persuasive. Fourteen percent said singers or musicians were most persuasive while 18% cited television or film stars and a healthy 21% said athletes were tops for product plugs.
Working on a presentation recently, I had cause to ponder medical breakthroughs. Helpfully, Time magazine offers a top ten for everything from gadgets to heroes. Even though there was a discernible American focus, I was still surprised by how few of their top ten medical discoveries had impacted popular consciousness here.
Am I the only one to find it ironic that Botox is increasingly being heralded as a potential wonder drug? After all, this was supposedly the least clinical product in a doctor’s armoury and the reputation of many members of the profession plummeted amongst colleagues as a consequence of perceived over-enthusiasm for the injections.
Now, the Archives of Dermatology is reporting data that indicates Botox may help alleviate severe migraines. The study suggests patients given Botox reported their migraines reduced to less than one day per month from seven. Prof Jeffrey Dover, an associate professor of clinical dermatology at Yale, said responders required little or no pain medication for headaches in the months after receiving their Botox injections.
There’s been a fair bit of crystal ball gazing in pharma circles of late. For example, GSK chief Andrew Witty recently told Reuters the continued Greek economic meltdown will cause sustained price reductions by many under-pressure EU governments. Now, the Harvard Business Review has predicted the three trends that are most likely to influence the pharmaceutical sector on a global basis going forward. Have a guess what they are and read on.
How the K-Club must be pining for the good old days when specialists and even mere GPs jostled for tee spots at the on the Kildare venue’s manicured lawns whilst pharmaceutical companies lined out to pick up the tab? Ancient memories of annual study days, successful round table meetings and hugely well-attended medical product launches at five-star venues all over Ireland were revived when we opened the Irish Medical News recently.
Take Two hasn’t concentrated too much on the fact that many pharmaceutical companies are placing huge focus on emerging countries as a key driver of future growth. Yet it’s hard to understate potential of called ‘second world’ economies as a massive untapped opportunity. The opportunities available in such markets were starkly illustrated this week as India launched a €16.5 billion public program designed to improve healthcare for 742 million of its rural villagers. And that’s just rural Indians – the scheme doesn’t take into account the 300 million or so citizens who live in towns and cities. The Bloomberg business agency reports that Novartis and sanofi-aventis are amongst those companies with clever marketing strategies already in place to help them respond to such developments.
Just days after the carnage in Greece, France has become the latest EU member to announce it is cutting the price it pays for pharmaceuticals. Paris intends to trim €600 million from health budgets this year – and €100 million of this is to take the form of drug cuts. The good news is that this action isn’t nearly as dramatic as Germany's price reforms, the cuts undertaken in Spain or the 25% horror story in Greece. Market analysts Morgan Stanley, in a note to investors, stated: “The earlier implementation of the already approved price controls is very modest.” Bonne nouvelle.
As healthcare breakthroughs go, here’s one that’s pure pants. A professor at the University of California in San Diego has designed a system that prints electrochemical bio-sensors on to clothes such as underwear. The development means blood pressure, heart rate and other biological signs can now be despatched from an individual’s undergarments to a surgeon or doctor on the other side of the world.
The technology has been developed to assist soldiers in the field. Printing sensors on to the clothing as opposed to attaching them to the fabric means the technology can better withstand the wear and tear of everyday use, including combat situations. Joseph Wang and his team screen-printed carbon electrode arrays directly onto the elastic bands of men’s’ underwear. The tight contact and direct exposure to the skin allowed hydrogen peroxide and the enzyme NADH, which are both associated with numerous biomedical processes, to be monitored using the sensor. Stresses associated with everyday wear, such as folding or stretching the clothing, did not affect the performance of the device.
The challenge of compliance is a topic we’ve discussed in the past at Take Two Towers so we were very interested to read about an extraordinary healthcare experiment which encourages patients to take their medicine using small cash prizes and a lottery-style pillbox. The project is just the latest of a series of ongoing studies examining the potential of paying patients to take their medicines and maintain their health.
Most readers will be aware that one-third to a half of all patients don’t take their drugs as prescribed with up to 25% never even bothering to fill out the script. The financial implications for society are obvious and apocryphal tales abound of little old ladies passing on to their great reward in houses subsequently found to be crammed to the rafters with costly, unopened meds. America, ever the cash-led entrepreneurial society, is unsurprisingly to the fore in looking at the potential of paying people to pop pills. Valerie Fleishman, executive director of the research-focused New England Healthcare Institute, said: “It’s better to spend money on medication adherence for patients, rather than having them boomerang in and out of hospital. Financial incentives are a critical piece of the solution.”
There’s a new UK government and now there’s a new approach to drug reimbursement by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) in a previously controversial therapeutic area. Co-incidence or the exertion of subtle influence by the new Minister for Health? You can decide for yourself but Take Two has been suggesting for some time that the fall of Labour would lead to changes in this area. NICE is now approving the use of five arthritis drugs on the NHS for patients who have failed to respond to first-choice treatments despite previously suggesting they were not worth the investment.