Biotech Strategy Blog

Commentary on Science, Innovation & New Products with a focus on Oncology, Hematology & Cancer Immunotherapy

Posts tagged ‘social media’

The findings from a telephone survey of 3001 adults show that social media and the internet are increasingly important for finding health information.

This has important implications for the marketing professionals in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries who struggle to come to grips with social media in the absence of any FDA guidance.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project published today their survey on “The Social Life of Health Information, 2011.”  It makes for interesting reading.  Some of the statistics I found of interest, relating to the United States, include:

  • 74% of adults use the internet
  • 59% of adults (80% of internet users) have looked for online health information around a disease or major health topic
  • 25% of adults (34% of internet users) have read someone else’s commentary or experience about a health issue on an online news group, website or blog
  • 19% of adults (25% of internet users) have watched an online video about health or medical topics (See my previous post on using social media such as video to recruit for clinical trials)
  • 13% of adults (18% of internet users) have consulted online reviews of particular drugs or medical treatments

As this insightful report notes, “people use online social tools to gather information, share stories, and discuss concerns.”

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies will have to come to terms with addressing the increasing desire of patients for information, presented in a way that is fair balanced and non-promotional.

The power of social media to potentially change the paradigm of how medical data is gathered was also highlighted in the recent paper published in Nature Biotechnology.

This paper presented an analysis of data collected on the website PatientsLikeMe for those suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  While such data will never replace a randomized, blinded drug study, I think that patient community data could have a role to play in areas around Quality of Life (QoL) assessments and post-marketing surveillance.

Increased fast internet access is driving social media and the demand for quality health information.  This trend is only set to continue.

ResearchBlogging.orgWicks, P., Vaughan, T., Massagli, M., & Heywood, J. (2011). Accelerated clinical discovery using self-reported patient data collected online and a patient-matching algorithm Nature Biotechnology, 29 (5), 411-414 DOI: 10.1038/nbt.1837

Twitter is a fascinating source of news and current affairs that allows you to share in events from a distance.  I was, therefore, fascinated to see Tweets from a recent healthcare meeting in which CNN discussed how they are having to compete with bloggers.

CNN claimed that this was due to bloggers violating embargoes on the publication of scientific data.  As a science blogger, I questioned whether this naked assertion was correct?

Using Storify, I captured the Tweets and looked into more detail as to “Who cheats and breaks science new reporting embargoes?”

You can read this on Storify, or in the embedded post below.

Richard Schilsky in Science Translational Medicine describes the challenges of enrolling patients into ever more complex cancer clinical trials. It is estimated that only 3-5% of cancer patients participate in clinical trials. Can social media be used to overcome barriers to enrollment?

There are many barriers to enrollment such as a lack of incentive by the physician if they can prescribe the drug off-label and obtain reimbursement, the additional legal liability, time required for research documentation and the need to follow human protection requirements such as informed consent and obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval.

There’s also the issue of equipoise, the uncertainty as to whether a new treatment will be beneficial or not and the need to discuss with a patient their willingness to accept the risk that a new treatment may offer less benefit than the current standard of care. This topic is beyond the scope of this post.

Schilsky notes in his commentary that:

“trial start-up times have lengthened to an average of 2 years or longer, up to 40% of cooperative group phase III trials have failed to complete accrual and closed without achieving study endpoints, wasting the contribution of those patients willing to enroll in the trial.”

Time to market is key to the success of biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, with product life governed by patent years. Delays in time to market have a real ROI impact, and may lead to promising products being discontinued prematurely.

One of the barriers to enrollment noted in Schilsky’s highlights is “insufficient patient awareness/demand.” Can social media play a role in overcoming this?

To look at what is happening currently, I used Storify, a new tool that allows you to create stories using social media:

http://storify.com/3nt/using-social-media-to-recruit-for-cancer-clinical-

Reference

ResearchBlogging.orgSchilsky, R. (2011). Accrual to Cancer Clinical Trials in the Era of Molecular Medicine Science Translational Medicine, 3 (75), 75-75 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001712

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