sábado, 2 de julio de 2016
Pfizer "se lava la cara"...
With attacks on the pharmaceutical industry having ramped up because of recent spikes in drug prices and Pfizer Inc.'s failed attempt to use a now-banned financial tactic to escape U.S. taxes, the company is fighting back with a new media campaign featuring scenes from its Groton laboratories and an interview with one of the region's top scientists.
Mark Noe of East Lyme, vice president of Pfizer's Groton Center of Chemistry Innovation, is shown in a two-minute, documentary-style video talking about how drugs are made.
The video, part of Pfizer's new Driven to Discover the Cure campaign, was shot at Pfizer's laboratories off Eastern Point Road.
"Creating a medicine is like solving a very complex jigsaw puzzle," he intones. "If you find out your initial hypothesis was wrong, it's like taking that entire jigsaw puzzle, dumping it out again and saying, 'It's time to start all over — and, by the way, this time it's a different puzzle.'"
Pfizer — which, according to the website statistica.com, spent $3.1 billion advertising its products last year compared with a record $3.8 billion five years earlier — usually promotes such products as Viagra and Lyrica with traditional direct-to-consumer campaigns.
But it is taking a different approach this time, asking several Pfizer scientists to tell the public about their passion for drug discovery and how difficult it is to find life-saving or life-altering treatments. Pfizer spent $7.7 billion last year on research.
"Our hope is that, if more people understand what it takes to bring a new medicine to patients, that together we can create a better environment for discovering treatments today and in the future," Pfizer spokeswoman Neha Wadhwa said in a statement explaining the ad campaign.
Pfizer, along with other drug companies, also has a problem with its reputation.
The research firm Reputation Institute this year ranked Pfizer's reputation as the lowest among 14 major pharmaceutical companies.
Part of the problem, said Kevin Campbell, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been drug companies' aggressive direct-to-consumer ad campaigns that muddy the waters about the best types of treatments for patients.
"In some cases, drugs are inappropriately prescribed to patients based on patients' persistent requests, and these prescriptions can lead to multiple side-effects, complications and, ultimately, higher health care costs," said Campbell, who has been a commentator on health care issues for Fox News and in a March commentary for U.S. News & World Report.
But he said in a phone interview that he likes Pfizer's most recent ad campaign that never mentions a product but instead focuses on the dedication, personal initiative and team effort required to bring a new medicine to market.
"I think it's the smartest thing they could have done," he said Wednesday. "I think it's brilliant. ... It says to me: 'We're Pfizer and we do things differently.'"
The advertising blitz comes as Pfizer faces within about a year and a half the end of its exclusive right to the Viagra patent, which provided more than $2 billion in worldwide sales last year.
It also comes amid questions about overpriced drugs highlighted by a 5,000 percent increase on the lifesaving medication Daraprim by another pharmaceutical company,
as well as Pfizer's failed attempt to purchase Irish drug firm Allergan in an "inversion" deal that had some lawmakers fuming about attempts by American companies to escape U.S. tax rates.
The first minutelong Pfizer spot, called "Before It Became a Medicine," traces the history of a unnamed drug from the opening of a medicine cabinet by a young dad back to scenes showing scientists having "aha" moments of invention, through the long and frustrating ups and downs at the Groton laboratories where the drug was developed, then back to the dad continuing on with his life.
AdWeek, the advertising industry's bible, called the initial spot "surprisingly thoughtful and inspiring."
The campaign started May 30 with ads online, in newspapers and on television. The videos are available at www.Pfizer.com/discover.
John LaMattina of Stonington, retired former head of worldwide research and development for Pfizer, applauded the company's new approach to advertising. He said the reputation of pharmaceutical firms is perhaps the industry's biggest challenge today.
"I love the new campaign," LaMattina said in a phone interview. "I find these types of ads about real scientists far superior to ads about erectile dysfunction drugs and the like."
He said Noe, a 20-year veteran of the company, is a prototypical Pfizer scientist: understated, down to earth and a hard worker.
In the past, Pfizer had an ambassador program in which scientists would talk about their research in public settings, and LaMattina said it was a huge success because of people like Noe.
"Scientists had a great effect on the general public because they have a lot of credibility," LaMattina said. "I refer to it as the Pocket Protector Effect."
Noe agreed with LaMattina's assessment that pharmaceutical firms have a lot of work to do to get their message across about the difficulties of drug research.
"I believe this is a message that has not been well communicated to the public in the past," Noe said.
Currently collaborating in teams to study such areas as diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, Noe said he believes he was approached to be part of the Pfizer campaign because of the breadth of his work and his long perspective on chemical research.
He studies the structure and function of proteins to be able to engineer more effective compounds and synthesize chemicals more effectively.
Noe, who studied at the University of Michigan and Harvard, said he loves working at Pfizer because the company offers scientists a great deal of independence and an environment conducive to learning.
Scientists feel challenged and are encouraged to think outside of the box, he added.
"What keeps us going is the fact that we have a very noble mission," Noe says in the ad. "It's an incredible feeling when you know you've made a difference in people's lives."(Ver)