Patient Engagement

Why Gatorade might be an elixir for pharma marketing’s digital health ills

For a glimpse into social media’s coming role in pharmaceutical sales and marketing, and the digital health of tomorrow, consider its use in Gatorade’s marketing today. The Gatorade Company maintains a “mission control center” in the heart of the company’s marketing floor, said Bonin Bough, director of digital and social media for parent company PepsiCo […]

For a glimpse into social media’s coming role in pharmaceutical sales and marketing, and the digital health of tomorrow, consider its use in Gatorade’s marketing today.

The Gatorade Company maintains a “mission control center” in the heart of the company’s marketing floor, said Bonin Bough, director of digital and social media for parent company PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP). The glass-walled room is staffed by five people who sit behind computer screens and monitor in real time the social media discussions of Gatorade products. But they don’t just read the comments and log them. They also write back.

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A Deep-dive Into Specialty Pharma

A specialty drug is a class of prescription medications used to treat complex, chronic or rare medical conditions. Although this classification was originally intended to define the treatment of rare, also termed “orphan” diseases, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the US, more recently, specialty drugs have emerged as the cornerstone of treatment for chronic and complex diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.

“The set it and forget it mentality no longer exists,” Bough said. “It’s more important to put it out into the marketplace and then be able respond and hear that feedback.”

Bough spoke as part of a panel discussion during the ePharma Summit 2012 in New York last week. Bough is a member of the digital advisory board for Pozen (NASDAQ:POZN), a Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based specialty pharmaceutical company. Pozen last year took the unusual step of forming the board as part of the preparation for the expected launch of PA32540, a drug developed for cardiovascular indications. Bough and other panel members said there’s a lot of lessons the pharmaceutical industry can take away from outside of the pharma industry.

If you missed it, we’ve got video of the panel discussion. Pozen chief commercial officer Liz Cermak picks up at the 1:38 mark. The panel starts at the 8:30 mark. And at the 24:08 mark, the panel launches into a discussion about government rules that limit healthcare social media conversations between pharmas and patients. Board member Marc Monseau hypothetically asks what would happen if the adverse events surrounding Merck‘s (NYSE:MRK) former pain drug Vioxx happened today.

Bough’s response: “We saw it on Twitter, but we weren’t listening because we didn’t want to have to report it.”

Here’s the video.

POZEN Digital Advisory Board Panel Discussion — ePharma Summit 2012 from POZEN on Vimeo.

Image from freedigitalphotos.net user Jomphong