By Betsy Raymond Stevenson, posted June 19, 2012
Making the almost impossible to describe understandable
Yesterday, I sat down with some of the best science communicators I have ever met. They had just finished a presentation, ‘Understanding Biotech in the News,’ where I found myself cribbing descriptions that I fully intend to steal. In the interests of full disclosure – I have no connection with their company, BiotechPrimer, at all.
When I asked Stacey Franklin, BiotechPrimer founder and owner, and instructors Timothy Fawcett, Ph.D. and Karin Lucas, Ph.D., for their advice on explaining biotechnology processes and science in general to laypeople, their responses affirmed basic principles of good communications (don’t assume, avoid jargon). Their application of these principles and their ability to provide almost soundbite length explanations of complex topics is what sets them apart. Following are some examples:
A biologic is a substance derived from living material, such as cells or tissues, to treat or cure disease. These living materials include protein therapeutics, vaccines, organs and tissues, and cell therapies. Biologics are usually injectable, topical or surgically implanted.
How to make a biologic: You force a cell or organism to make a protein in a genetically modified cell.
On types of vaccines:
What we call 1st generation vaccines are made from whole pathogens (bacteria, viruses). The most well-known vaccine still made this way is the flu vaccine.
2nd generation vaccines are made from pathogen sub-units, particles from a bacteria or virus which are enough to stimulate the body’s antibody response
We are looking forward to a 3rd generation called DNA vaccines. With these, DNA from the pathogen is injected into your cells which than make the viral protein, stimulating your antibody response. Two anticipated benefits from DNA vaccines are that they will be less expensive to produce and much more stable. This means that there would be no need to keep them refrigerated, a transformational technology for disease prevention in tropical developing world countries. InOvio is in Phase 1 trials.
You can learn more about BiotechPrimer at biotechprimerinc.com. And, please share your own best descriptions of biopharmaceutical processes and concepts here. I invite all readers who like your work to steal it, but you will have full credit in your comment! Seriously, the more ‘best communication practices’ we share, the better the understanding of the biopharmaceutical industry as a whole.
By Betsy Raymond Stevenson, posted June 18, 2012
Orphan Disease Forum – Specialized Marketing & Sales & Beyond: A Vision for Orphan and Targeted Therapies
BIO’s Orphan Disease Forum is hosting a panel on Wednesday morning of interest to anyone involved – or soon to be involved – in sales, marketing or communications for an orphan disease therapy. I asked Donna LaVoie, the panel moderator and President and CEO of LaVoie Strategic Communications, Inc., if she would give us an advance look at the topics that will be addressed.
More biopharmaceutical companies are developing and launching orphan drugs, an area pioneered by the biotech industry. LaVoie’s panel reflects this heritage. It includes Jayne Gershkowitz, Senior Director, Patient Advocacy & Public Policy, Amicus Therapeutics, Inc.; Rogerio Vivaldi, SVP and Head of Rare Disease Business Unit, Genzyme, a Sanofi Company; Mark Rotera, Global President, Aegerion; and Kyle Brown, Founder and CEO, PatientCrossroads. LaVoie herself, was with Genzyme and involved in the first approval for Cerezyme®, a groundbreaking therapy for Gaucher’s Disease.
According to LaVoie, the most common error made by companies new to commercializing an orphan drug is to approach the market as if it were a traditional product. Large-scale marketing campaigns and brand focus show a lack of understanding of the tightness of an orphan disease community and how they share news. Personal relationships are the heart of any approach intended to connect with patients, their families, patient organizations and physicians. This is done through the use of Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) who come to know the physicians and families in their territories personally. It is hard to overstate the importance of patient registries.
Early access programs will be discussed. For example, should the FDA be more active in employing these?
It will be important for any company moving forward with their first orphan drug to educate their marketing team. Donna recommends using case studies, at least three, to show the unique nature of orphan disease communities and how they communicate.
If you would like to learn more, sign up for the panel: it is session 1220, running from 8:30 – 9:45 am on Wednesday, June 20.
|Raymond Stevenson Healthcare RSHC Copyright © 2012|