Giving your pharma launch the creative edge
Written by Cheryl Clarke
With increasing restrictions and levels of healthcare compliance which have to be met when marketing products to the pharmaceutical industry, organisations are left to come up with more inventive, creative and engaging events if they want to promote new innovations to the market.
These events have to meet with all necessary guidelines and also reiterate the key messages of the products on offer, ensuring that the benefits to the end user are retained. As the founder and Director of evential, an events-based business which specialises in the pharmaceutical sector, I explain how this can be achieved with good technical innovations and a creative imagination.
We work with some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and although it goes without saying that we are thrilled to be in a position to engage with these brands, it also throws up a number of challenges - how do you make each event different? What will make this particular launch stand out from the crowd? How will we meet with the clients brief yet still conform to compliance? How do we engage the audience?
We have found that over the years launching a product to the pharmaceutical market has changed irreversibly. With increased restrictions being introduced with regards to promotional giveaways, we find that we need to provide our clients with new and innovative marketing methods when it comes to launching new products. As it was once accepted, and in some cases expected, that you would simply put together a bag of free promotional gifts, now you have to create and rely on a dialogue which gets across the messages about that product.
Engaging with the audience is absolutely essential and using the staging creatively to set the scene and bring the product messages to life makes for an impactful event. We are developing more creative solutions for our clients, injecting theatre to the launch of products and showcasing first-hand how a new product will impact on the patient.
As an example we worked with Johnson & Johnson to launch a new product to 300 internal delegates from 30 countries throughout Europe during a two day event. Not only did we have to find a suitable central-European location and manage a healthcare compliant finale dinner but also engage with a multilingual audience.
The first task was ensuring that the technology was in place to allow us to provide delegates with iTouch, which could be used to translate the conference notes into any language chosen. These would also be used to facilitate social media feeds and instant chat, allowing delegates to connect with one another, raise points about the product and ask relevant questions.
The iTouch acted as an interactive element of the event, enabling delegates to ask questions about the product, which were then posted on a live feed allowing the presenters to address them. Without WIFI access this would have been impossible and had a real impact on the event and the experience that delegates received.
The next part of the brief was logistically simpler but required a creative edge; how would we showcase a product to a mixed audience leaving them with the positive messages about the product; ultimately that it improves the life of the patient?
We produced a bespoke staging set which captured the colour and shape of the brand logo and marketing concepts and commissioned a team of actors to bring to life how the disease impacts on the life of the patient. Not only was the audience captivated but they were able to share the experience with colleagues in their respective countries. The idea was cutting edge for a pharmaceutical launch and was met with very positive feedback.
Due to the ever-changing environment of healthcare compliance more inventive ideas have to be considered and put forward. As a business we are excited by this change and feel that it will have a positive impact on the pharmaceutical events that delegates attend. Greater levels of creativity will have to be considered and new ways of engaging with the audience will be essential to the successful launch of products.
The fundamental event requirements to a product launch for the pharmaceutical sector remain the same; accessible destination and venue, project management and logistics, quality speakers and strong branding are all imperative. In addition we now have to consider theatre, impact, retention of the message and above all new innovations and creativity. It will be very interesting to see how leading small, medium and large pharmaceutical brands embrace this and start to push the boundaries in order to get their products noticed.
For more information, visit: www.evential.co.uk
Driving sustainability in medical device production
Environmental protection and stewardship are rapidly rising to the top of the corporate agenda and medical device businesses are no exception. The healthcare sectors of the United States, Australia, Canada, and England combined emit an estimated 748 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year, an output greater than the carbon emissions of all but six nations worldwide. In order to curb this situation various European standards have been introduced.
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE); Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS); Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) and the Energy Using Products (EuP) regulations have all significantly altered manufacturing processes, specific labelling, compliance with disposal restrictions, and creation of instructions for end-of-life management and recycling.
At the moment many medical devices are currently exempt from these regulations but several directives, including RoHS and WEEE, are in the process of being reviewed and could be applicable in future. This is especially relevant for devices that are ‘connected’ and have a digital monitoring component which then brings them under the regulatory purview of authorities that govern devices with electronic components.
Safety, Usability and Sustainability
While medical device manufacturers have been working to respond to increasing demand for environmental sustainability from the market, they also have to contend with a key element of their mission: to ensure safety and usability to healthcare workers and patients. Parenteral and other invasive devices are strictly regulated to help reduce the risk of Healthcare Acquired Infection which typically runs as high as 5% and 8% in most developed countries, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. As a result, they typically contain disposable single-use plastic elements.
At the same time, many hospitals and purchasing organisations have started to recognise that sustainable purchasing practices play a pivotal role in reducing costs over time. Many GPOs have appointed and empowered Senior Directors of Environmentally Preferred Sourcing who are successfully implementing the sustainable purchasing business case. In addition global pharmaceutical companies are increasingly creating senior positions with sustainability objectives as key to the role.
Medical device disposal is a particularly burning issue; generally carried out through incineration in the EU, it typically releases nitrous oxide, as well as known carcinogens including polychlorinated biphenyls, furans and dioxins. Some of the strategies trialled by manufacturers to reduce waste matter destined to incineration include sterilisation and reprocessing.
Sterilisation, however, falls short on the environmental front, and may consume more energy and produce more emissions than incineration itself. In the United States for example, 50% of all sterile medical devices are sterilised with ethylene oxide but since this method releases harmful emissions, the US Food and Drug Administration is now encouraging the development of new methods or technologies. Many other established sterilisation methods use glutaraldehyde that is not only harmful to the environment but also tends to be regulated by strict usage and disposal rules such as COSSH guidelines.
Focus on Recycling
The outlook on recycling is changing significantly thanks to new research and technologies enabling, for example, monomer extraction. Recycled polymers can be broken down to their constituent monomers promoting an almost limitless recyclability of some polymers. In addition to this, Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), renewable polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) can be recycled several times without losing critical properties.
Reducing the impact of packaging can also significantly reduce the materials that need to be dealt with through either waste or recycling. Packaging manufacturers are decreasing packaging volume by favouring sealed trays instead of pouches, laser-etching instructions directly on to the tray where regulation permits it, or reducing the number of components required overall. In addition to this, for recycling plans to be successful it important to have a full understanding of the practices surrounding device use and to establish, where possible, closed loop recycling systems that recover the waste materials from hospitals or patients and bring them back into the recycling process.
Sustainable Manufacturing: Technology and Research
Greater employment of fast degrading plastics or material from other sources is a key strategy to reduce harmful pollutants both at production and disposal stage. Bio-based materials can in fact offset the carbon emitted during processing as the monomer source grows, and a growing range of sources for bio based monomers -such as wood pulp or sugar cane- is available. However, when assessing the most suitable material for a part, the entire lifecycle of the product needs to be considered. For example: bio-degradable polymers can contaminate a recycling stream and emit methane when incinerated.
The use of environmentally friendly materials should also be supported by an increase in clean renewable energy sources. Lower energy consumption means fewer carbon emissions but also financial savings, making this an appealing measure for manufacturers. New technologies are proving a major gamechanger on this front, helping manufacturers marry their environmental stewardship with cost savings and efficiency. 3D printing, for example, can help develop optimum product moulds more quickly, refining production parameters to minimise raw materials volumes and maximising output productivity.
Similarly, ‘digital twin’ production software uses inline sensors to create a virtual, real-time mirror of the production environment to enable inline refinements. The objective is to achieve “zero defect”, waste-free manufacturing. In addition to this, LEAN manufacturing methodologies are already helping to optimise inventory management and reduce overproduction.
Sustainability by Design
It is increasingly clear that effective environmental sustainability in the medical device sector cannot exist without a full view of the product life cycle from concept development, material selection, design and engineering to manufacturing, packaging, transportation, sales, use, and end-of-life disposal. These evaluations are typically made for factors such as manufacturing efficiency, time to market, or safety and regulatory compliance, packaging and transportation costs, but should be extended to energy efficiency and environmental impact by means such as life cycle analysis.
In addition to this, with devices rapidly becoming more digitally connected, developers need to be aware that the costs of disposable electronics would simply not be viable, or indeed acceptable in the light of electronics disposal regulations. Design therefore should focus on creating a simple, repeatable interface between the two component sections so as not to impair the functionality or efficacy. As reducing waste and harmful emissions continues to exert businesses and governments globally, the medical devices industry cannot stand by. The environmental but also commercial implications of inaction are too serious and the array of solutions now available is exciting and diverse.