So many pharmaceutical companies want to build better relationships with patients and physicians yet get caught in the ruthless cycle of pressure for short-term product sales and safely navigating regulation or worse, the threat of more regulation. Launching a new drug is complicated. And it's a game with a lot riding on it. A game that can squash creativity in certain organizations.
Regulation like "fair practice," DTC rules and "adverse event reporting" are hard enough. The effectiveness of the push and pull of TV adverstising for drugs is really not all that clear.
So, how can pharma build that better relationship? Can they really balance product brand-building, corporate brand-building and sales?
The Well, Well, Well Marketplace
Someone needs to create the Well, Well, Well Market (WWWM). We're talking - "well, well, well, don't you look good" or "well, well, well I thought you were sick but you seem to be doing okay..."
This is a market that sells products that help us all live well with our various diseases and conditions without sacrificing our taste. If we test ourselves because we are diabetic, we use cool kits like Stickme Designs. If we have to take food through a tube even after you are back at work (happened to a friend of mine), you have a cool shoulder bag with the tubing built into your shirt (remember the cool "stillsuits" from Dune? ). If your hair is out due to chemo, not only do you get much cooler scarves but head-care supplies like sunscreen and even some hat suggestions.
The bottom line - every condition that allows us to remain engaged in life we ought to enhance by putting our best fashion and design talent against it.
Marketplace of Ideas
And it's also a marketplace of new fashion and design innovations from the crowd. Look at today's NY Times magazine article on the 'craft-centric' cottage industries sprung up throughout the Web . This marketplace could become not just a breath of fresh and cool air for people challenged by conditions, it could also become a boost for those creative minds that would dream up super cool solutions.
One of the biggest hurdles for big business to develop lifestyle solutions for people without legs or with special medical needs is the small size of the marketplace. Yet their are many entrepeneurs who are motivated by the challenges they face or their loved ones face. They are more than willing to dream up fashion and design products without a million-dollar payday expectation.
Pharma builds the store
What if a pharma built the store? One of the challenges here is that no one pharma has drugs for devices across a wide collection of conditions. While this one has deep expertise in diabetes, another will have deep expertise in cancer treatments. Maybe an independent needs to build the mall, but the individual pharmas need the opportunity to create a cool store for their patients (and physicians) that help them live well with their condition.
Being 'of-use' to patients is a great way to demonstrate they really do care. And helping people with diseases or conditions lead a high-quality of life via the best style and usability in design is one way to do it. Even if a pharma just built a promotional 'window' for these great products and, in the process, motivated others to design even better looking chemo chapeaus.