Tag Archives: Good pharma

Good Cause

Doing Good, While Making Money

Social Success, by David Hunt

I talk about this a lot, but make no apologies for the frequency. I’m proud to work in Pharma, and see it as an opportunity to use insight, imagination & innovation to make a difference. I didn’t choose to work in healthcare, I simply liked ideas. In all honesty, as a bullish graduate I would have preferred Nike over Pfizer, but the world changes, and so do we. Today I choose to have a significant impact on society, over a cool one.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, says: The business benefits from ethical practices are not soft ones about reputation or image. They are hard measures of growth and margin improvement. Wherever you look, it’s a no-brainer.

I agree 100%. Havas Lynx aims to help patients, their families and HCPs to improve outcomes, whilst also driving the commercial success of our clients. We call it #HelpfulChange, and whilst it sounds improbable and unrealistic, it has been the central strategy behind our success. It aligns with the increasing trend for Pharma companies to out behave the competition & benefit through their enhanced brand equity. Unfortunately the more conservative in our industry wait for others to fail & win by default. Doing nothing, but doing nothing wrong, they would argue. These people fear their brand, and lack the courage their power affords them to improve society. Those that embrace this power, those that choose to make a difference, and show courage in their actions, will succeed in today & tomorrow’s social world – they’ll have a brand with meaning.

Johnson & Johnson have invested in Care4Today, through Janssen Healthcare Innovations. Like many others, they believe innovation can improve outcomes. However, unlike the majority, they have invested significant time & resource to bring forward that day. They will both make a difference, and secure a competitive advantage.

AstraZeneca invested in a critical testing infrastructure for non-small cell lung cancer. Monthly tests increased from 18 to 452 over the course of the campaign. Patients were more accurately diagnosed, treatments more accurately prescribed.

Novartis support Skin To Live In and, despite the regulatory challenges, aspire for it to be the most progressive campaign in healthcare communications, supporting the community & building brand equity – a fair trade.

These are just a few examples from our portfolio, beyond Havas Lynx there are numerous other superb cases of brands doing good and making money. It is the future of our industry, one that will be shaped by passion & courage.

Hand shake croped

Dr Nick Broughton is Medical Director of HAVAS LYNX Medical and has a strong interest in the ethics of business and compliance. Nick tries to explore the good and not so good in an industry he cares about. Below he writes about narrative education.

Narrative education: The power of storytelling, the importance of the individual and the start of a radical shift in pharma, by Dr Nick Broughton.

Telling stories

Telling stories

Boston 2013 and a bunch of agency types collect in a rather cramped and faintly dismal hotel function room for an afternoon of whatever it was the meeting agenda said. Into this arena of postprandial apathy steps Dr Rita Charon foremost exponent of narrative medicine and it appears she has forgotten her slides. Nothing appears on the screen behind her save for an artistic abstract featuring, as I recall, purple lines and black rectangles.

With nothing on the screen to stimulate the senses, a confused audience turns its attention to the quietly spoken senior gentlewoman occupying stage front. The lady is talking, clearly though not loudly, and with little, if anything, that could be described as so vigorous as a gesticulation. All I could think (given the piscatorial attention span of the average agency executive) was that I hoped the gags were good. There were no gags.

Dr Charon told stories. Individual patient stories recounted with depth of feeling and detail no one had witnessed before and, unexpectedly, the audience was rapt. These weren’t case studies as beloved by clinicians (49 year old man with three year history of x, had lab results y so I gave treatment z) or patient pictures (photo of healthy looking smiley person with something chronic and life-shortening) as beloved by the more naïve end of the pharma marketing community. These were stories that put disease, healthcare and treatment in their proper place within the context of individual human lives: narrative medicine.

The point here is that it is impossible to understand the impact of an illness on an individual without understanding the individual’s story. The effect on a person of being diagnosed as HIV positive is quite different depending on their marital status, their age, their culture and, most significantly, a myriad of factors particular to them.  This is the ‘data’ you need in order to act for that individual; this is the patient story. The art of the good doctor is to understand the narrative so as to be able to understand the disease and target therapy appropriately. Good medicine is narrative medicine, but narrative medicine is also, I would propose, good education. Dr Charon in describing the narrative of a patient with a rare disease indelibly imprinted the memory of its signs, symptoms, treatment and outcome in the memories of one hundred people who, up to that time, had lived in happy ignorance of any such disease.

Yes, stories are powerful but it’s really a bit glib to leave it at that. Storytelling, story appreciation and story learning are hard wired into our brains. We humans consume and repeat stories rapaciously all across our lives. From gossip down the pub, to jokes, to news stories we frankly can’t get enough. We absorb stories to the extent that we can completely suspend reality in pursuit of story enjoyment. When you turn on Coronation Street you (probably) know it’s not real, it’s being displayed on a flat screen for one thing, it’s shot in a studio, the actors appear in the papers, but none of this interferes with your appreciation of the story. It gets more bizarre still – theatre goers watching Shrek (the stage version naturally) rapidly forget their own presence when sat in rows in front of the acting ranks to absorb a story about an eight foot ogre. The truth of the story does not impact their appreciation or indeed their memory of it, and that latter fact is the crux of the medical educational opportunity that good storytelling represents.

The obvious opportunity in storytelling is to educate about disease, treatment and outcomes through the prism of individual patient stories as evidenced by Dr Charon. Good case studies told well on the congress stage can get part way there as they recount the triumphs and tragedies of a diagnostic conundrum, but they lack the medically irrelevant human details they need to make them good stories. Good storytelling needs that characterisation to make you care about the outcome and a good plot to surprise and dismay you along the way. Us humans like a structure to our stories, a set-up, a series of crunch points, a climax, a resolution. If you are Quentin Tarantino you might get away with mucking with plot structure but lesser mortals shouldn’t bother.

A good patient narrative, in effect an anecdote, is a Trojan horse for knowledge that our brains are unlikely ever to be suspicious of, but we must avoid confusion with anecdotal evidence. Patient stories should represent tested evidence and medical fact or give pertinent lessons on the unusual and be clearly labelled as such. This missive is not a plea for Daily Mail medicine.

Of course, such thoughts could be seen as a bit drippy in the hard EBM world we live in today; narrative education as I’m describing here is hardly mainstream. What’s wrong with explaining medical matters in blocks of prose with umpteen graphs and a slug of stats? What do you mean you can’t remember it? Thing is though, underneath all the bluster your top KOL/external expert/therapy area expert (the names vary – the gist is the same) is just the same story loving beast as the rest of us even where medicine is concerned. Telling the tale of your new medicine’s development, the characters, the failures, the blinding insights and the dumb mistakes can be an intriguing cocktail if told well. It has the useful spin off that for many a HCP it provides the first realisation that there are one or two steps for pharma before selling a drug.

Training on storytelling recently I got into in-depth discussion of whether storytelling could ever impact on that most sacred of objects, the clinical paper. Do they have to be quite so dull and unmemorable? I know we all (well ‘piscatorians’ at least) read the abstract and only carry on if there is something positive but it still seems like a wasted opportunity.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you wanted to pick up a clinical paper for the pleasure of reading the story within it rather than as a necessary drudge to find the interesting bits? More seriously, when reading clinical papers is such hard work is it any wonder we naturally ignore those that hold only negativity and non-significance. There are patient consequences to positive bias as our friend Dr. Goldacre has recently been explaining, but unlike him I suspect the issue is grounded more in human disinterest in the uninteresting than pharma malevolence.

The structure of a story, its characters and plot is one thing, but above all a story needs a storyteller. Stephen Fry I suspect could read a train timetable and keep us fixated. Harry Potter would have passed unnoticed into oblivion if his many exploits were described in an SOP. Execution is critical and herein pharma has created its own demons by spending too long supporting too many mediocre medical story-tellers to speak on its behalf.

Times are a changing and, I suggest, it’s about time. Pharma is equipping itself and its medical teams for a radical shift that will involve it speaking more for itself about the medicines it develops, the research it does, the lives it improves and (yes) the profits it makes. The shift is barely underway and will be painfully slow, but as we break ground let’s not forget the whole flaming point of what we do when we speak for ourselves – the patient and their story.

The death of traditional consumerism: what does it mean for pharma?

HAVAS Worldwide’s latest paper, The New Consumer & The Sharing Economy, outlines a growing sentiment against over consumption. Seven in ten of us believe it to be putting our society and the planet at risk, and the majority feel that current models of consumerism are not sustainable. More than this, we feel weighed down by the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ we own.

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Put simply, we’re tired of consumerism and bored of adverts that try to manipulate us by pushing products at us like they’re the answer to life’s problems. We want to be in control, we want to be able to make informed decisions about how we spend our time and money and we don’t want others telling us what to do.

This goes for healthcare as much as consumer markets. Patients no longer expect to merely be prescribed a pill that they unwittingly swallow down once a day and hope for the best. Facilitated by an abundance of information technologies, they are knowledgeable about treatments and want to be actively involved in managing their own health care.

The wealth of monitoring apps across treatment areas (AsthmaCheck, MoodPanda and Diabetes In Check are but a few) is a fair indicator of a general desire for information and authority regarding personal treatment regimens. For financially hamstrung public health providers such as the NHS, this is a welcome trend. Empowering patients with greater control of their treatment reduces the burden of care placed on public providers, and has the potential to garner much better results by actively engaging patients.

So where does pharma fit into all this? The patent model and subsequent relationship with healthcare providers has always followed traditional models of consumerism; ‘we are a drug company and we’ve produced this drug which you can buy from us’. So how can we who work in pharma support and facilitate patients’ desires for greater inclusion and authority in their care and still turn a profit?

Firstly, we need to reshape our relationship with the people we serve. Pharmaceutical companies can no longer act as vendors and must become partners to professionals and patients alike. In doing so, we need to provide solutions, not pills, and increasingly this will mean delivering holistic services and systems of care. ‘Beyond the pill’ solutions are an arena in which there is massive potential for pharmaceutical companies to add real value.  At HAVAS LYNX we’ve worked on a series of patient care programmes that have been shown to half the number of days patients spend in hospital.

When pharma partners its expertise with other parties, it opens up a world of new revenue streams. Start-up accelerator organisations such as Healthbox are stimulating the sort of innovation and collaboration that pharma should be looking to more and more. Even amidst the context of Pfizer’s efforts to secure the acquisition of AstraZeneca, pharma companies need to look beyond traditional development pipelines when seeking to expand their offering.

We need to innovate past the sector mainstream and recognise outsider trends, much in the same way that Facebook is making moves to expand beyond social by purchasing of ProtoGeo. There are so many exciting and disruptive technologies being developed that have the potential to transform the lives of patients. Far more than offering supplementary revenue, these areas that currently lie on the fringes of the market are likely to be the mainstay of pharmaceuticals in the future.

 

Mind and matter

Stuart Wilson founded Creative Lynx in 1986. In 2012, when the company became HAVAS LYNX, Stuart took the position of non-executive chairman. Below he writes about the values and beliefs upon which the company was built and I am proud to say still remain true today.

building up

It’s so easy to criticise big pharma. The Constant Gardener didn’t help and acts of altruism can wrongly be perceived as market development, but compared to bankers, politicians or energy companies I believe they have been a much greater force for good in society over the last 20 years. We quickly forget that drug and device developments have improved and extended the lives of millions.

In 1996 we launched Aricept for Eisai/Pfizer as the world’s first treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. At that time ‘Old People’ were, at best, given little more than tea and sympathy; at worst totally ignored. Our clients had a mountain to climb to promote an understanding of the appalling challenges Alzheimer’s sufferers and their families faced. Geriatricians knew what a game changer this drug was – but to change the perceptions of government, the payers and the media our clients invested not only millions of dollars but massive amounts of time, energy and commitment. I was proud to see how a client can look beyond stigma and ageism to fight for better social care… not just to sell their product but to genuinely try to improve lives. Nearly 20 years on and Alzheimer’s is now recognised as a difficult and life changing disease the world over. There are many other products in many therapy areas that have done the same.

So, back in 1986 when we started out on this long, creative road I believed the LYNX ethos shouldn’t be based on vacuous and transient consumerism. Instead we should use our talents for the greater good…in some small way. Of course, consumer work is more glamorous, especially when you are asked what you are working on by your mates in the pub…Carling, probably the best advertising job in the world… or is it? McDonalds? Nike?

Now, I know we’re part of a multinational advertising empire and that’s all well and good. At HAVAS LYNX we fiercely believe that we can help change things for the better and thankfully that’s how our clients think. And, nearly 30 years later, when everyone talks about ‘ethics’ or ‘business morals’ we can honestly say that’s where we came from, where we are, and where we will stay.

And, after 30 years, I can happily say that I am proud of our stance. It’s still difficult to explain what we are working on at a dinner party and sometimes it’s not that glamorous, but to my mind the main thing is it matters.

The above post was written by Stuart Wilson, Non-Executive Chairman of HAVAS LYNX

 

 

Shareholders or Stakeholders, Who is Driving Healthcare

Good Pharma, By David Hunt

Large to small pharmaceutical corporations are powered by profit. So are we. Without revenue HAVAS LYNX can’t pay salaries and overheads and we would cease to function. However, we also care deeply about our creativity, ideas and innovation. We like to get paid BUT we are passionate about making a difference. The pharmaceutical companies that I have worked for are the same – whilst they are fuelled by profit, they are driven by patients.

Why does pharma have such a bad reputation? Why does Ben Goldacre find such traction in social media? Because it counts. Because we are an ageing population terrified by the concept of ageing. Because we are more aware of our lifestyle choices, more informed about serious illness and more concerned about what it means to us. As a wider society, we are totally committed to the advancement of medicine and this demands expertise, integrity and investment.

I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with David Jones, CEO of HAVAS, both an inspirational leader and global advocate for a sustainable future. David is the author of the excellent, Who cares wins. It outlines the future for business, one I passionately believe in, whereby companies will succeed by doing good. David argues that with social media as the catalyst, companies will enjoy long-term success by finding a balance between making money and making a positive difference. Brand value will be built by actions and not image.

Who cares wins was penned for business, it is PERFECT for healthcare.

Good Business

Good Business

I have worked on some great healthcare campaigns, working with some fantastic companies. The theme that runs through the most successful is a crusade to make a difference, to understand the patient situation and drive for a better outcome – big or small. I passionately believe in a patient centred approach. If we can balance both morale and commercial drivers, we can take real pride in a meaningful contribution.

Through the advancement in medicine, patients with Hepatitis C now have a much more positive outlook; it is still a tough situation, but better. However to benefit patients have to be engaged and supported, as an agency we have helped to raise awareness of the new options available through social media. Empowering patients to take action and providing them with the tools and education necessary on their arduous journey. 

In the later stages of cancer every day counts. HCPs, carers and family are under pressure. Sometimes the seemingly trivial can count against the patient and their survival. Partnering with our client, we developed an application to help HCPs reduce the critical number of days required to test and diagnose patients. Getting the right patients, on the right treatment, in the right time.

Schizophrenia is a lonely and isolating condition. Despite the best of efforts of everyone involved patients can unfortunately slip into a spiral of decline. We have used digital to educate patients and their families on more effective management of the condition. Over 100 patients have been enrolled in the programme, halving the number of hospital days.

I believe that by focusing on patients and engaging with all stakeholders, we deliver better health outcomes that simultaneously help to generate the revenue required to advance medicine. Good Pharma.

Further information:
https://www.stop-hepatitis-c.info/
http://www.schizophrenia24x7.com/