An Analysis: Big Pharma and Social Media Usage

Posted in Social Media

A study conducted in November 2011 by Cegedim Strategic Data, a market research and promotional audit firm analyzed the world’s top 100 pharmaceutical companies expenditure on traditional promotional (marketing spends) and then compared that spending with their presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Not surprisingly, Pfizer, Novartis and Merck (the world’s largest big pharma companies) finished in the top three for traditional promotional spending. However, their use of social media i.e. Twitter and Facebook varied widely. For example, Pfizer—the top promotional spender—was first in its number of Twitter followers and third in the number of likes on Facebook. On the other hand, second ranked Novartis was fifth in the number of Twitter followers and in seventeenth position for likes on Facebook. Finally, third ranked Merck was fifteenth in the number of Twitter followers (third for the number of tweets) and in the tenth position for the number of likes on Facebook (but has more pages than any of its Facebook competitors).

Other notable companies included:

  • Johnson &Johnson, eleventh in promotional spending and number two on the number of Facebook likes
  • Roche, number fifteen on the promotional spending list was ranked number two for the number of Twitter followers
  • Proctor and Gamble which ranked a distant 54th in promotional spending was number four on the Twitter follower list

What does this all mean? A whole lot of nothing because nobody can determine what effects the use of social media has on the bottom line for most pharmaceutical companies. Unlike other industries, where social media can be used to sell products, it cannot be used for direct promotional purposes in the life sciences industry. While most people will tell you this is because of the lack of guidance by FDA on the use of social media, the bottom line is that social media will never be allowed for direct-to-consumer advertising in the pharmaceutical industry. That said, pharma and biotech will have to find other uses for social media including clinical trial recruitment and retention, adverse event reporting, employee recruitment and retention and education and outreach.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Tweeting (and Liking)


Maximizing Patient Engagement During Clinical Trials

Posted in BioBusiness

Recruiting, retaining and managing patients that participate in clinical trials for approval of new medicines and devices have becoming very challenging in the past decade or more. Ironically, the ready availability of experimental new medicines in the US for certain therapeutic areas including oncology, neuroscience and vaccines have forced life sciences companies and CROs to conduct many Phase I and Phase II trials outside of the US. In turn, the globalization of clinical trials has forced many sponsors to increasingly rely on e-based and mobile solutions for patient recruitment, retention and compliance.

The Advance Learning Institute’s conference entitled “Patient Recruitment, Compliance And Retention For Clinical Trials: Integrating The Latest Technologies With Traditional Tools To Maximize Patient Engagement” that will be held in Manhattan on October 24-26, 2011 will provide attendees with insights into the best practices to maximize patient engaged in clinical trials. Presentations will be given by a variety of pharmaceutical companies, CROs and academic institutions including Pfizer, Merck Research Laboratories, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Celgene Corporation, Quintiles, Omniscience Mobile, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. A complete agenda for the conference can be found here.

Those of you who mention BioJobBlog or BioCrowd when registering for the conference will receive a $200 registration discount.

See you at the meeting!!!!!!!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!


Competition for Pharma Talent Is Heating Up in Emerging Markets

Posted in BioJobBuzz

While R&D scientists and sales representatives continue to struggle to find jobs in the US at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, the competition is fierce to hire and retain pharma employees in emerging markets like China and India. Earlier this week, I posted a piece on big pharma’s continuing expansion of its R&D activities in Asia and the growing need for US-trained PhDs in this region. However, it appears that hiring and retaining pharma sales reps is a bigger problem in China and India for big pharma companies like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sanofi-Aventis (SA) and Pfizer.

According to a recent article in Bloomberg News about 20 percent of GSK’s sales forces in both countries quits each year in favor of better offers from its rivals including Pfizer and SA. One GSK executive quipped “There’s a huge war for talent. It’s hard to do anything about. If you have a good person, they could find someone else willing to pay twice as much.” This is in marked contrast with the US where almost 100,000 pharma sales reps may have lost jobs over the past five years.

Emerging Asia Pacific markets accounted for roughly 17 percent of GSK’s sales in 2010 as compared with 18 percent for Pfizer and 30 percent for SA. Sales revenues for most major pharmaceutical companies declined in both the US and Europe last year. There is no question that big pharma is turning to emerging markets as a means to maintain and increase sales of drugs after patents expire and generic competition cuts into revenue. Sales in emerging markets are predicted to reach about $400 billion by 2020 which is equivalent to the current size of the US and the five biggest European markets combined!

By its own admission, GSK was “fairly late” in their investments in China and may explain why the company may be experiencing trouble with competing for talent in that market. Employment opportunities in emerging markets will likely resemble those in the late 1990s in the US and Europe, when there was a dearth of talents life sciences professionals and companies were willing to pay large salaries (regardless of whether or not job candidates were qualified) to employees to maintain operations. This trend is driving up labor costs in China and interestingly, China is beginning to outsource work to Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore where labor and raw materials costs are less expensive.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting (Go East Young Man and Woman)


Beware of Job Title Inflation

Posted in Career Advice

Although the economy is in the toilet and unemployment remains high, highly skilled and ambitious employees are usually not at risk of losing their jobs. In fact, these employees are highly sought after and frequently contacted by recruiters trying to get them to “jump ship.” In other words, there will always be jobs for these employees even though the rest of us may be unemployed. Companies clearly recognize the value of these employees and will use all available strategies to retain them. 

During good economic times, this usually means a promotion and a concomitant salary increase. However, during recessionary times companies tend to promote these “good” employees into position with greater authority without a pay raise: the assumption being that tacking on a fancy new job title with some added responsibilities will be sufficient to stroke an employee’s ego and ignore the lack of additional compensation for a larger workload. 

To that end, the folks over at the online masters degree website recently posted an article entitled Job Title Stuffing 101: 12 Buzzwords to Inflate a Job’s Importance. It is a veritable tutorial on inflated job titles and the one that you ought to avoid (see below) if possible.

1. Manager: This title may be given to anyone and everyone who ever heads up a project or department, no matter how large or small. It’s used to give slight leverage to the person in charge of the task at hand, but can mean little to the project manager’s supervisors. Because many companies push team creativity, the manager is primarily responsible for turning things in and will be the one to hear about if the boss isn’t satisfied

2. Strategist: A strategist of any type simply means you plan tasks and have some idea of how these tasks are most efficiently executed. For example, in the case of a content strategist, it means you create and organize the content of a newsletter, website, or blog. Is the job important? Sure. But for some reason content strategist sounds a lot more impressive than web editor. You take your pick, but if the former is going on your resume, you better deliver.

3. Deputy: In the age of the Internet, there’s a deputy for many jobs. What does this mean? Well, it means you aren’t quite a junior or an assistant, but the company doesn’t have the funds to pay you like they would someone with the actual title. An example is an editor-in-chief versus a deputy editor. One issuse that you may run into being a deputy of any sort is more on your plate than you bargained for. But you’re the deputy, so you can handle it, right?

4. Senior: Companies love to tack this one onto a title. Senior web writer or senior designers are common for firms. What does this senior title translate to? Anyone with 5+ years of experience in a field and still utilizing those skills can serve as a senior, usually without the pay or responsibilities of management. Simply put – you do your job well, but the buck stops here.

5. Producer: This one has become popular for the web. Web producer pops up on many mainstream blogs and sites. A producer can wear many hats, and for a company that means more bang for their buck. Sure, you will be producing content, but expect handling anything the project throws your way even if it isn’t in the job description (and there’s a solid chance it won’t be)..

6. Supervisor: Like managers, this title can be hit or miss. For large corporations that have had to cut back and eliminate lower level management, pawning the title of supervisor off on an entry level employee who’s been in their cubicle for six months means having someone in the office to make sure things run well without having to douse them in a raise. There are some supervisors who are able to oversee a small department, but ultimately are not the first in command for their subordinates.

7. Ambassador: This job title buzzword is almost an insult to the actual word! In the age of promoting, you know, everything, the job title of brand ambassador is given to celebrities in a niche group that endorse the product sometimes without appearing in ads. This person is contracted by the company or simply receives perks and free services from the brand. They often do little more than show up at launch parties and events and plugs the company as needed. For Channel, The Misshapes Leigh Lazar serves as a brand ambassador and for AT&T, there’s Internet has-been Justine. The problem with brand ambassadors is often large corporations are the last to discover the new face of a niche audience.

8. Professional: A friend says that anytime you have to tack the word professional onto your job title, you must not have a real job. This is up for debate, but let’s take a look at a couple of titles that utilize the word. How about professional organizer? Or records distribution professional? By the way, the latter is the new uppity name for mail room clerk. Yes, even those fresh out of college need an inflated job title. Professional used to mean you had proper training for whatever you do, now it means you are paid some type of wage for what you do, no matter how little that is or the responsibility it entails.

9. Consultant: Who knows what you do with this title. It can mean you directly fix problems, as in the case of IT consultants or it can mean you merely offer your advice, in the case of interior design consultants. Many consultants bring in the big bucks and are contracted by major corporations, but many others work for themselves and struggle to get by. While this title isn’t necessarily inflated, it doesn’t really give the total picture of what you’re hired to do either (which you may prefer).

10. Vice President: Somewhere in the past decade, a lot more vice presidents have shown up to the company picnic. Instead of having a manager of ____, that job became VP of Public Relations or VP of Human Resources. It means second-in-command, in that department and not much more. There used to be only one

VP per company, but we’re guessing the more, the merrier, even if it is job title inflation in its boldest form.

11. Global: Even a mom-and-pop shop can have a Global Director of Communications. It can be mom, working from the family’s dry cleaning business to update the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Many companies are employing social media personnel and since a lot of these companies indeed do business around the world, why not stick the word global onto the job title of someone who represents your business to the world? It makes the job sound more exciting and may get you onto someone’s Follow Friday!

12. Lead: The word lead in a job title can mean a lot or a little. In some cases, it means you are heading up an operation, but in most cases it means the company is utilizing you for your skills and maximum potential without proper pay. Some companies use this title as a stepping stone between entry level and a lower management position to see if someone is ready for the next tier of responsibilities.

While promotion without compensation is not novel, it is rampant in today’s uncertain economic times. A word of advice: if you are being considered for a promotion, the first thing that I would ask is whether or not the promotion comes with a pay increase. If not, you ought to think twice about accepting the promotion and call the recruiters back who are trying to lure you away to a competitor’s company. Accepting a position with increased responsibility without a pay raise sends a signal to management that you can be exploited and taken advantage of. And, management will likely continue to exploit you until you call that recruiter back who tells you that a person with your title and level of responsibility can earn much more at a competitor company! That begs the question: Is job title inflation without compensation really a good way to promote employee retention? I think not!

Hat tip to

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!


Several Ways That Pharma Can Harness the Power of Social Media

Posted in Social Media

The debate, if you can call it that, over whether or not interactive social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be used in the life science industry is moving forward at glacial speed. I decided that it was time to propose some ideas rather than continue to admonish the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a lack of guidance.

There are several reasons which may explain the inertia surrounding the adoption of social media by pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical devices and diagnostics companies. First, and perhaps foremost, FDA has been consistently reluctant to craft any useful guidance on the use of Web 2.0 technologies for research, clinical or promotional purposes. The FDA’s Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications (DDMAC) is still trying to figure out how to regulate website content. Is it any wonder that FDA is reluctant to tackle the regulatory implications and issues associated with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter? Second, a majority of social media advocates— who are leading the charge at many life sciences companies—are marketing and advertising executives who tend to look at social media strictly as a promotional tool. Finally, much of what takes place at life sciences companies is proprietary and confidential—information flow between the company and its employees and the public is fastidiously monitored and tightly regulated. Because of this, the life sciences industry’s “process” is intentionally opaque—which is contrary to the goals of social media which is to promote transparency (or the illusion of it).

There is no doubt that the life sciences industry is the most highly regulated industry on the planet. While this represents a formidable challenge for adoption of social media, it is by no means insurmountable—especially if social media is used for purposes other than branding, marketing and advertising. For example, the most straight forward application of social media at life sciences companies would be in the areas of corporate recruitment and employee retention. Many Fortune 500 companies outside of the life sciences industry have been using Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn for years for recruiting purposes. While not commonly acknowledged, life sciences companies have quietly begun to use Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace to recruit prospective employees. Interestingly, the new kid on the block—Twitter—looks to potentially be a more powerful recruiting tool than any of its predecessors. Unfortunately, employee retention is no longer a priority at many companies. However, before the economic meltdown a number of companies, most notably Best Buy, were experimenting with social media to retain talented employees.

Another potential use of social media is for pharmacovigilance and adverse events reporting. Companies with approved products on the market are required by FDA (and other regulatory agencies that approved their products) to set up post marketing surveillance programs for adverse events reporting. By law, companies that receive adverse events reports from consumers, physicians or other entities must report them to the regulatory agencies that approved the product. Regulatory agencies maintain adverse events databases for all approved drugs and devices to monitor drug safety.  If designed and implemented correctly, interactive social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter (which operates in real-time) would make excellent pharmacovigilance and adverse reporting tools. Quite coincidentally, John Mack, who runs the Pharma Marketing Blog, reported a partnership between UCB and to create a pharmacovigilance reporting platform for UCB products.

Recruiting patients for participation in clinical trials (to assess efficacy and safety of prospective new drugs) has become extremely challenging over the past few years.Traditional patient recruitment strategies include print, television and radio ads and in some instances, websites. All of these recruitment methods are costly, labor intensive and limited in their effectiveness because they only reach small number of prospective clinical trial participants. I contend that Facebook with over 200 million users, LinkedIn with members in over 140 different countries and Twitter which is growing rapidly would be ideal for clinical trial recruitment and retention purposes. Others have also proposed this idea.

Finally, while the use of social media to promote approved drugs and devices may be difficult because of regulatory constraints, it can be utilized to keep the public informed about prospective new medicines and promote a company’s image or brand. There is no question that the public perception of the pharmaceutical industry has been severely tarnished over the last few years.  The industry’s continued lack of transparency and failure to adequately disclose potential safety risks about some approved products continues perpetuate a negative image. One way to restore public trust and confidence is to use social media to actively engage the public in conversation on wellness, addressing unmet medical needs and prospective new medicines and treatments that are being developed. Also, social media platforms could be employed to showcase community outreach programs and discuss educational initiatives to improve science education and training.

Social media is no longer a new phenomenon or technology. It is a legitimate form of communication which has become an integral part of the Web 2.0 experience. I suspect that the life sciences industry will have to make a decision about social media in the not so distant future—or possibly miss a potentially game-changing business opportunity. And, as Ken Kesey aptly said in Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’—“You’re either on the bus…or off the bus.”

 Until next time…

 Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

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Keeping a Job in a Recession: 10 Workplace Habits to Break

Posted in Career Advice

I came across an article posted on the MSN career site by Anthony Balderrama that described 10 workplace behaviors that must be kept in check to keep your job—especially during tough financial times. The idea here is to not give your boss an excuse to fire you. I thought it would be informative to pass on the essence of this information to BioJobBlog readers.

1.  Procrastination

Many people claim to work best under pressure or at least they think so. In my experience leaving things to the last minute is usually a recipe for disaster especially when working in team environments.

2.  Sloppy e-mails

Sending e-mails with typos and poor grammar or addressing them to the wrong recipients is a definite no-no. I highly recommend that all e-mails should be proofread before they are sent. It may take some extra time, but in the end, it may be worth not sending your boss the e-mail where you criticize him or her!

3.  Remember who’s the boss

Using your supervisor’s first name and going for some drinks after work are common in many industries. Still, you are the employee and the boss is the boss — the one who can fire you and tell you what to do. Don’t cross the line by talking to her as if you’re talking to one of your direct reports or even your best friend.

4. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”

Some companies are strict about the time you clock in and out. Others have guidelines but no hard rules, so you can arrive at 8:35 a.m. and no one cares. If you continually arrive late and leave early (with plenty of breaks in between), your reputation will suffer and so will your bonus. Remember everyone is keeping track whether or not they let on that they are!

5.  Don’t be stand offish or anti-social

Conventional wisdom suggests that it isn’t wise to mix your personal and professional lives. However, refusing to take part in any workplace social activities — such as the office potluck or a happy hour – won’t help your career. Interacting with your colleagues helps build camaraderie. You get to know other people better and they get to know you as more than the person they pass in the halls.

6.  Always running late

Everybody is busy and constantly showing up late for meetings or presentations etc is unprofessional. Nobody wants to work with somebody who can’t manage their own time—especially when it impacts theirs. Being late may be fashionable but only in your private life not your professional one.

7.  Inflexibility

I have worked with people who adamantly refuse to go above and beyond what their job description calls for. While annoying there wasn’t much I could do or say to them to convince them otherwise. That said, it is never a wise thing to say to your supervisor or your boss’ boss that "You don’t pay me to do that" or “That’s not my job.” You may have a point but you may also lose your job.

8.  Acting as the resident naysayer 

I think many people admire the person in a meeting who is willing voice opposition to an idea or suggestion that is a bad one. Voices of opposition are often missing in many workplaces because too many eager employees want to be "yes" men and women. But too much negativity grates on nerves especially those of management. It is okay to question things, but when you do, make sure that you have a solution to problem at hand that is in the best interest of your company.

9.  Badmouthing the company

 With blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, there are plenty of opportunities to vent your frustration with work. However, if you’re going to complain about how dumb your boss is and how much you hate your job, try to keep those rants private. The Internet is public domain and comments have a way of finding their way back to all the wrong people.  Also, most companies routinely monitor the web for things that are said about them to get a better idea about their perception in the marketplace. Be careful what you say!

10.  Politicking

Office politics are often unavoidable, but you shouldn’t spend more time strategizing and masterminding office warfare than you do working. Getting caught in the throes of a workplace controversy may out of your control, but if you’re the one instigating the drama, you’re earning a reputation as a person who starts trouble and whom no one trust. In my experience, nobody trusts or respects people who are good at playing the game but deficient in doing their jobs!

While managing and correcting these habits may not ensure continued employment, they certainly won’t hurt your prospects of hanging on to your job when things get shaky!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

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Cosmetic Surgery: A New Way to Retain Nurses and Other Hospital Employees?

Posted in Career Advice

There is a growing worldwide shortage of nurses and other typically female-dominated medical professionals. The acute shortage of nurses in Europe has induced at least one Czechoslovakian clinic to develop a novel—albeit somewhat controversial— approach to retain and recruit hospital personnel. According to an article in today’s New York Times (which was also reported on NPR several weeks ago) “When Petra Kalivodova, a 31-year-old Czechoslovakian nurse, was considering whether to renew her contract at a private health clinic special perks helped clinch the deal: free German lessons, five weeks of vacation, and a range of plastic-surgery options, including complimentary silicone-enhanced breasts.” She opted for cosmetic breast surgery (which normally cost about $3,500) and also had liposuction on her thighs and stomach citing that she her appearance is important to her and her patients.  Perhaps, more importantly, she could never have afforded to have the procedures done on her current salary which is lower than most bus drivers. Of the 50 nurses working at the clinic, 10 opted for plastic surgery, while several more were considering it. And, at least one male employee is seriously considering liposuction.

While offering plastic surgery as an inducement to recruit and retain hospital employees is somewhat controversial, it highlights the need to improve the salaries and benefits of nursing and other medical care professionals. In many places in Europe, nurses and other hospital employees make considerably less than bus, truck drivers and other non-technical workers. The same is true in the US which has also been experiencing ongoing nursing shortages. But, hospitals and clinics here have yet to offer plastic surgery options to recruit or retain medical and support staff personnel. Unlike Europe, where cosmetic surgery is booming, plastic surgery procedures have dropped about 9 per cent this year as compared with years past.

Like it or not, cosmetic surgery is an option in today’s world and, accordingly, people ought to have the right to choose whether or not it is right for them. However, it is important to remember that cosmetic surgery is invasive and potentially serious medical complications including infection, disfiguration and death can occur. The fact that 20 per cent of the Czech nurses chose cosmetic surgery over more vacation time or free German lessons may be indicative of the growing pressure placed on both women and men to look young, vibrant and remain sexy. Further, there are marketing and employment studies which suggest that younger more attractive people get hired more easily and advance their careers more rapidly than average, older-looking ones.

When Petra Kalivodova, the 31-year-old Czechoslovakian nurse who opted for breast augmentation and liposuction was asked about her choice she said “People of my mother’s generation look down on me for getting the surgery—“I see it in their eyes. But I don’t care. I did this because I wanted to and I didn’t ask anyone’s permission, including my boyfriend.” I think her comments reflect a changing and growing attitude among women 35 and under who believe that personal choice, feminine beauty and pursuing professional careers are no longer mutually exclusive.

Until next time.

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!


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Three Ways Pharma uses Facebook

Posted in Social Media

After having looked at pharma’s use of twitter, I decided to also get a feel for how pharma is engaging with facebook so far. Three main uses emerge: 1. connecting employees, 2. attracting talent and 3. promoting disease awareness or treatment adherence

1. Connecting current and ex- employees definately has the most activity. Numerous official and unofficial  groups or fan pages bring together the employees of most of the top pharma companies. For the purpose of this analysis let me concentrate the largest groups with apparent corporate endorsement (ie. use of official logo, links to company website and corporate messaging in group purpose).

Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer/Wyeth and Roche seem to be leading the pack in terms of activity. Sanofi and Novartis both set up official fan pages with over one thousand members. Lots of employee activism as well at  Boehringer Ingelheim, Roche, Novartis and Wyeth with facebook groups of 500+ members. (Check out this video from the official BI facebook group, just for fun).

Other, not so active groups: AstraZeneca (also have an English and French fan page), TevaGSK (French fan page), Lilly, JNJ, and Pfizer.

Interestingly, there are a number of unofficial “Pfizer“ groups expressing negative sentiment towards the company (most of it coming from layed off employees). Pfizer is also the only company that someone set up a group about them, called “conversations of Pfizer“. Not much activity unfortunately, but intersting concept nevertheless.

Another strange aside: Egytian and Turkish country groups seem to exist for basically every pharma company I researched, must be a cultural thing?

2. Regarding attracting talent, there is an overwhelming number of student, intern and training program groups for all companies; most of them probably not official. GSK seems to have the largest number of student groups, a lot of them private. Merck also stands out for its excellent Merck Careers fan page, well done, I think, but not much activity, yet.

3. Promoting disesase awareness is where I believe things finally get interesting for patients. Examples of pharma companies using facebook to drive disease awareness and treatment adherence aare not bountiful, but I did find two great examples.

The first example is the ADHD Moms group, sponsored by McNeil Pediatrics, a JNJ company. The group counts close to 8000 members, but, for me, it is not these numbers that make the group exciting. By setting up this fan page, McNeil has done a great job at creating an environment in which patients/caregivers can receive valuable information concerning treatment management and adherence, while staying within the pharma “comfort zone“.

The concept is simple. One Pediatrician and three ADHD moms, as well as “guest writers“ discuss topics of importance to raising a child with ADHD. There are polls to each topic to get the audience’s feedback, while avoiding  thorny legal issues such as adverse event reporting or off-label usage. The site also offers a podcast series and links to prominent ADHD organizaions.

The second example comes from Novartis Zometa product. It is called: Marica Strassman Takes Role as Patient Advocate. In this group, celebrity and breast cancer survivor Marcia Strassman takes on the mission to “inform breast cancer patients and caregivers about the importance of following treatment regiments outlined by their doctors “. Thus a clear focus on promoting disease awareness and treatment adherence.

The setup up is also highly transparant, clearly disclosing Zometa sponsorship with links to the Zometa homepage, product information and the facebook groupe mission:“ To educate patients with advanced breast cancer and other metastatic cancers about the risks and benefits of Zometa.“

This fan page, like the ADHD example, features links to the most prominent cancer organizations as a further resources for patients. Also, similar to the ADHD page, this site does not allow any comments from its members to prevent any legal issues.

So overall, highly encouraging signs that pharma is starting to use facebook. Most companies still seem to first experiment with more internally focused groups, but some are starting to “test the waters“ and to engage with patients on important topics like disease awareness and treatment adherence.

Silja Chouquet is the owner and CEO of whydot GmbH, an agency specialized in social media consulting, coaching and training. Her fields of expertise are the creation of patient-focused social media communications and marketing campaigns. She runs the whydotpharma blog where she discusses social media and the life sciences and other pharma-related topics.


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How to Keep Your Job Whether or Not We're in a Recession

Posted in Career Advice

Over the past few weeks, I have seen many posts on various career and job blogs offering people advice and tips on how to hold on to their current jobs. In my opinion, most of these posts didn’t offer any new or insight tips on this topics. Instead most of the suggestions were obvious and rather pedestrian. For example, be pleasant to your boss, show up on time, don’t leave before the official work day ends, volunteer to take on new projects yada, yada, yada.

While these suggestions may help to some extent, I think that the best way to keep a job is to think strategically and learn how to manage it to your maximum benefit regardless of prevailing economic conditions. In other words don’t wait until you are in a precarious situation to become a model employee. With this in mind, I came across an extremely insightful article on job retention in the business section of today’s NY Times.

The author, who has been a practicing psychologist for 22 years and a “boss” for the past couple of years, provides insights on job retention from both employee and managerial perspectives. I highly recommend that you read this article—even I learned a thing or two!!!

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting (hang on to your current one if you can—its tough out there)!!!!



Reverse Psychology: Takeda Offering Bonuses to Millennium Employees Who Stay With the Company

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Millennium employees find themselves in an enviable position that most pharmaceutical and biotechnology employee would die for!  Shortly after Takeda announced that it would buy Cambridge MA-based Millennium Pharmaceuticals for $8.8 billion, it offered many Millennium employees retention bonuses to stay at the company for 12 to 24 months until the acquisition is completed. These bonuses will be in addition to cash that many of Millennium’s 1,000 employees will get by exercising their stock options (Takeda is paying a premium to purchase all of Millennium outstanding shares of stock).

While offering retention bonuses to employees of a company that is going to be acquired is unusual it is not unheard of.  Retaining key employees during an acquisition typically makes the transition a lot smoother.  Further, it signals to extant employees that management values their services and that their continued presence at the company is vital to its success.  Finally, it serves to reduce the stress and uncertainty felt by many employees when a company is sold.

In my opinion, offering Millennium employees retention bonuses is a very bold and smart move by Takeda.  Unlike other pharmaceutical companies who have acquired biotechnology companies for their approved drugs or investigational medicines in their pipelines, this is Takeda’s first foray into the biotechnology business. Put simply, Takeda executives lack the expertise and requisite skill sets necessary to successfully compete in the biotechnology arena.  Encouraging and retaining employees who helped to make Millennium a success is a brilliantly crafted strategy that will permit Takeda to quickly learn how to compete in the biotechnology space in a fiscally-responsible manner.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome after an acquisition is merging the corporate cultures that existed at the two companies prior to acquisition. One possible solution to this problem is to restructure the acquired company and terminate many or all of its employees. Another solution is to determine (over time) which employees are or aren’t vital to operation of the company. Although this approach is not as draconian as the first option, it requires an inordinate amount time and money to implement. Ask any Pfizer executive about this the utility of this approach (I think that they are still trying to recover from the Warner Lambert and Pharmacia acquisitions that took place in the mid to late 1990s).  

I think the Japanese got this one right.   Maybe we Americans can learn a thing or two from them?

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!