ELITE Digital Crusader Nancy Phelan of Bristol-Myers Squibb

Nancy Phelan

Head, Customer Engagement Center, Worldwide Commercial Operations

Bristol-Myers Squibb




Driving Patient Condition Understanding

The very first pharmaceutical industry online banner ad, launched by Schering-Plough for Claritin, made its debut in the early 2000’s, but the woman who led the team behind the launch, Nancy Phelan, had likely been envisioning it for decades. During Nancy’s childhood, her younger sister, Rachel, suffered from severe asthma, which for many years had no treatment. Seeing the power effective treatments can have on patients and their families firmly planted the seed that would eventually lead her into the pharma industry.

For Nancy, it’s always been personal. Keeping her younger sister in mind, in whichever category she’s worked in, Nancy draws inspiration from her sister’s experience. Her goal is not to simply launch a product or campaign, but to help patients through outreach. And that outreach must go beyond informing a patient about a condition to helping them understand their specific ailment.

This understanding, she explains, can truly make a difference in helping patients adhere to treatment. “If we have a real take on patient’s lives, the day-to-day routines that create barriers to both access and adherence,” Nancy adds, “and we can help a patient, caregiver and family understand the illness, then we can better connect on an emotional level and help people to make better treatment decisions.”

That’s the basic mission Nancy takes into every situation. Later, as the head of the Consumer Communications and e-Marketing at Wyeth (now Pfizer), Nancy established consumer marketing training, standards and procedures across all drug brands—and partnered with brand teams to develop and implement brand-specific consumer marketing in the U.S.

Today, Nancy’s mission has taken on not only national, but also global proportions. She currently leads the Customer Engagement Center, Worldwide Commercial Operations at Bristol-Myers Squibb and is responsible for driving seamless multichannel marketing across all customers in priority markets worldwide.

Starting her career with “firsts in the industry,” Nancy has won numerous awards. If past performance predicts future performance, one thing is certain: We will likely see many more “firsts” coming from this digital, customer-centric dynamo.


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