Earlier this week, there was a brief overview of what Google Wave is designed to do. Now, let's begin thinking about specific applications for the pharmaceutical industry. Remember, a Wave is a collaborative conversation that will allow multiple forms of media to be included.
- Clinical Trial Recruitment Waves – It is a perennial problem for pharmaceutical companies to get a good balance of patients involved in clinical trials, particularly minorities. In almost every AdComm meeting, a panelist will ask a pharmaceutical company what the minority representation is and how minorities were recruited into the clinical trials. The answer is almost always the same – we ran ads in minority media markets. It is such a passive answer that it is hardly worth uttering. What if the response were something like this – "We sponsored a series of Wave discussions and invited the patients of minority physicians to join the Wave so that they could talk to patients who have already been through clinical trials. They were able to pose questions and the experienced patients were able to discuss their own fears and reservations and what the experience was like. Multi-media services were brought into the Wave so that people could use many routes to explore and even sign up for consideration." Now that would be a little more dynamic. Try getting that out of an ad.
- REMS Support - Today when the FDA considers a particular risk to the use of a drug, they can require a REMS program – Risk Evaluation Management Strategy which encompasses the same tools as when the program was referred to as RiskMAPs or Risk Management Plans. These tools consist of a wide range of means to convey appropriate use such as a MedGuide. A MedGuide is a piece of paper that gets shoved into a prescription bag. Almost no one reads them. Yet the FDA relies on them heavily in controlling risk – which frankly is a bit of a fiction that no one seems to question and there is no evidence, to my knowledge, that a MedGuide is in the least degree effective. Last week in the AdComm meeting for consideration of Amgen's denusomab, the FDA seemed to indicate that they would like to see a communications plan to convey matters of risk. That, at least, would involve something a bit more dynamic than the next-to-useless MedGuide. Perhaps it could involve the development of a YouTube channel, but also a series of sponsored Waves that patients and/or prescribers must participate in as a pre-condition to using a particular drug. The Wave would be staffed by company experts in the use of the medical product and could answer questions and fully participate in a learning session for both patients and prescribers. A MedGuide can't do that.
These are just a few of hundreds of examples of some of the practical uses of this new tool – a tool that I believe will completely remake the workplace. And the medical products area has been so far behind the curve in new and social media development – this is a chance to catch up. Start planning now.