Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Idaho's innovation in illustrating the vital role beavers play in ecosystems

Creativity can be seen in all sorts of endeavors.  Like changing perceptions of beavers and the critical role they play in the ecosystem, emphasizing the value of beaver as a watershed management tool.

In the 1940’s Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game embarked on an effort both large in scale and kooky in method.

Finding long, dusty overland trips too hard on the beavers, the department instead packed pairs of the animals into crates, loaded them onto airplanes bound for drought-stricken corners of the state, and dropped them by parachute.  (The crates were rigged to open on impact.) 

The endeavor was apparently a success: a 1950 report notes that of the 76 beavers airdropped in the fall of 1948, only one fell to its death; the others began building dams and homes and founding colonies, which can grow as large as a dozen or so beavers.

Idaho’s strategy has since been validated by dozens of scientific studies illustrating the vital role beavers play in ecosystems.  Their dams create ponds and wetlands that retain rainwater and snowmelt, and while beaver ponds themselves are shallow little affairs, research has shown that they help preserve groundwater, allowing vegetation and trees to flourish and increasing biodiversity.   

According to one study, the amount of fresh water a single colony adds to a local ecosystem each day is the equivalent of at least a once-in-200-years flood event.

Read more about one program at adopt-a-beaver-campaign

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Innovation is…

Smartpones with apps that help you choose paint colors.   

Robotlike vacuums that zoom around floors.   

Websites that practically design your rooms.   

That’s innovation, all right.   

But to us, innovation isn’t just the whiz-bang stuff.   

It’s anything that streamlines and inspires.   

In this blog, I celebrate advances big and small.   

You see some of the people, products, and services that are changing the way we live.   

And you might be surprised that some of our innovators favorite things are refreshingly old-school.   

After all, innovation is really whatever is revolutionary to you.

Listen to an audio review at www.airsla.org/broadcasts/BetterHomes

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

N-of-8 helped articulate vision of Baxter as emerging leader in Regenerative Medicine

My work with the Cellular Therapies business unit of Baxter Healthcare Corporation is an important case study in which the N-of-8 tool helped articulate a vision of Baxter as an emerging leader in Regenerative Medicine.

As it was initiating a major Phase II clinical trial for the advancement of stem cell therapy, Baxter Cellular Therapies was preparing to exhibit at the 2006 American Heart Association’s annual conference. Although current interest in stem cell therapy was high, it was often misunderstood.

With a market early in its development, a novel approach was needed to differentiate Baxter Cellular Therapies from its competitors, all relatively small, unknown start-up companies. On the one hand, Baxter was uniquely poised to distinguish itself by lever- aging its size, scope, and name recognition.

On the other hand, the AHA meeting was dominated by giant players with mega-brands, leaving little room for early phase research to get noticed.

Metrics for success included:
  • Increased awareness and interest among interventional cardiologists
  • Established connections with new potential major investigators
  • Recognition of Baxter Cellular Therapies as a credible and trusted emerging leader in Regenerative Medicine
Instead of applying a traditional pre-marketing approach, we worked with the team at Baxter Cellular Therapies to find a different strategy using N-of-8.
  1. First, Baxter would position itself as category leader, one that would be seen as a central source of information in the field of regenerative medicine.
  2. Next, we would help co-brand a scientific booth with The Angiogenesis Foundation to establish third-party credibility with one of the foremost authorities in angiogenic therapeutics and research.
  3. Finally, we helped create a series of highly clinical, scientific presentations, enlisting an expert panel of investigators. As the main booth draw, these “live” and interactive presentations were presented every hour, on-the-hour, during the convention. These speakers are central to creating “evangelists” in the field to further establish interest in the Baxter research.
Prior to the convention, attendees received multiple e-invitations from the expert panel to learn about advances in cellular therapy trials and potential applications in cardiovascular disease.

During the conference, attendees were asked to complete a brief survey to assess the derived value of the information presented and to gauge their level of interest. In gratitude, attendees received a branded flash drive that contained unique graphics, teaching slides, and PDFs of 32 published clinical papers in cellular therapy.

Booth attendance exceeded the conference goals — achieving 5 times the desired traffic.

As a result, a database with more than 800 physicians at leading institutions was created with a majority of attendees requesting future updates from Baxter.  Equally important were the connections made with several potential major investigators.

Monday, August 06, 2012

2 pronged approach to DTC: ULORIC campaign

This is an excerpt from a campaign profile by Matthew Arnold, in Medical Marketing & Media.

As the first new product for gout on the market in four decades, the Uloric team had some work to do in educating patients about how the disease works and available treatments.

“Our campaign was really focused on targeting patients who were on treatment but were still experiencing flares,” says Heidi Gillmore, marketing director for Uloric. “There was a big awareness gap because of the fact that there's been no new innovation in the category for decades, and therefore no promotion happening. There was really a lack of credible resources on the Internet.”

While the disease is most often treated by primary care physicians, the market for gout drugs is a niche one, with around eight million adults diagnosed in the US, and just short of three million treated chronically.

Because there's a lot of co-morbidity, the topic often fails to come up during doctor visits, as more immediate health concerns predominate. Around half of those on treatment are still experiencing flares, according to Takeda's research, which also found poor patient understanding of the role of hyperuricemia, the underlying metabolic condition treated by Uloric, in gout.

“So that fed into our strategy behind doing a really broad-based, multichannel, branded and unbranded campaign to both educate on the disease state and introduce the brand as an option to these patients,” says Gillmore. 

Takeda took a two-pronged approach:
  1. Unbranded ads that featured a real doctor talking about the role that uric acid plays in gout along with the tagline “Gout can attack silently even between flares.” 
  2. Branded ads feature patients lugging around a large flask of liquid that serves as a metaphor for uric acid reduction. 
Both efforts drive viewers to goutinfo.com. The brand is now moving to put more emphasis on relationship marketing.

“Now that we've built this awareness level, we're really trying to drive more dialogue between patients and physicians,” says Gillmore. “So we're starting to step away from the awareness-building vehicles like the TV ads and center more on the action vehicles—online and in-office media.”

Gout is one of the most-searched conditions, says Gillmore, and Takeda research has shown that four out of five patients searching for gout info online are currently suffering a gout attack.

“They're having pain and they're trying to seek out solutions at that time, so we really try and leverage that as much as possible, because that was something we identified at our launch that, because of the lack of innovation in the category, there was a lack of credible resources on the Internet for patients to turn to. So you search on ‘gout' and you're getting a lot of home remedies and those types of things.”

Takeda's Gout.com is the destination for its unbranded efforts, while its Gout Smart program offers interactive discussion guides and other features aimed at getting patients into treatment.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

21% of new drugs approved from 1990-2007 involved PSRIs

It’s been about a year now since the New England Journal of Medicine published an article by AUTM President Ashley Stevens finding public-sector research had a more immediate effect on improving public health than was previously realized. (Stevens AJ, et al. N Engl J Med 2011;364:535-41)

Just about the same time, I was advising Bioscience Bridge on connections for university research from Boise State, Tulane, and Purdue.

This research article underscores the important role the universities play in improving healthcare.  And why Bioscience Bridge continues to create attention to commercialization of intellectual property.

In the introduction to the article, Stevens states that historically, “public-sector researchers have performed the upstream, basic research that elucidated the underlying mechanisms of disease and identified promising points of intervention.”

This is contrasted with corporate researchers who performed the downstream, applied research resulting in the discovery of drugs for the treatment of diseases – and who carried out development activities to bring them to market.

Today, however, the boundaries between the roles of the public and private sectors have shifted substantially since the dawn of the biotechnology era, and the public sector now has a much more direct role in the applied-research phase of drug discovery.

The authors (organized by Stevens, and including researchers from Boston University Schools of Medicine, Law and Management, the Radium Hospital, Oslo, along with collaborators from the National Institutes of Health led by Mark Rohrbaugh, Ph.D., J.D.) found that during the past 30 years, 153 new FDA-approved drugs, vaccines, or new indications for existing drugs were discovered through research carried out in public sector research institutions (PSRIs). These drugs included 93 small-molecule drugs, 36 biologics, 15 vaccines, 8 in-vivo diagnostic materials, and one over-the-counter drug.

Their conclusion:

“We believe that our study supports the concept that the emergence of biotechnology in the mid-1970s, combined with policy changes implemented in the early 1980s regarding the ownership and management of the intellectual property of PSRIs, allowed these institutions to play an important role in the downstream, applied phase of drug discovery.”

Specifically, the data show that PSRIs have contributed to the discovery of 9.3 to 21.2% of all drugs involved in new-drug applications approved during the period from 1990 through 2007. It also suggests that PSRIs tend to discover drugs that are expected to have a disproportionately important clinical effect.