Pharma Solution Powerhouses Take on Opioid Education

The NARCAN Nasal Spray from Emergent BioSolutions.

Rx EDGE Media Network and Emergent BioSolutions teamed up to provide vital information about combating the opioid epidemic at a critical point of care—the pharmacy. Rx EDGE set up displays with educational information about the life saving NARCAN Nasal Spray in 600 pharmacies across the U.S. Emergent BioSolutions produces the only FDA-approved spray to be administered to an individual experiencing an opioid overdose or suspected opioid overdose.

The displays contain information about the importance of NARCAN for saving lives, how to obtain it, and how to administer it. “Pharmacy customers, especially those who take prescribed opioids, will be able to get all this important education at the place where they are most likely to be focused on their healthcare needs,” said Nate Lucht, Chief Executive Officer, Rx EDGE Media Network, in a statement. “That is why the pharmacy is an ideal location for distributing these patient education booklets not only to those who take opioids, but also to family, friends, caregivers, and potential first-responders.”

Unity Partners with Teen Vaccine Advocate

Unity Consortium, a nonprofit that is building awareness of preventive health and immunization, has teamed up with teen Ethan Lindenberger, known for his opposition to vaccination misinformation. Lindenberger will soon be featured in Unity’s Voices of AYA (Adolescents and Young Adults) campaign. Outcome Health partnered with Unity to create the video campaign in an effort to provide teens, young adults, and parents with evidence-based vaccine information.

“We all need to follow the CDC’s recommendations and be protected from all vaccine-preventable diseases,” noted Lindenberger. “I felt a connection with Unity and jumped at the opportunity to become a member because they understand the value of teen and young adult involvement and our ability to be proactive and make the best decisions for ourselves based on decades of research.”

The video series is the newest result of Outcome Health delivering Unity’s vaccination and preventative healthcare messages across its nationwide point-of-care platform since 2018. The videos allow Lindenberger to tell his story. He describes being told throughout his childhood that vaccines cause autism, brain damage, and do not benefit the health and safety of society. Through his own research, he learned that scientific evidence proves vaccinations are nothing short of a medical miracle, stopping the spread of numerous diseases and therefore saving countless lives. Lindenberger made the decision to be vaccinated when he turned 18 and aims to stop the stories often spread through social media based on skepticism and falsities that continue to put lives in danger.

The videos also feature Dr. Laura Offutt, a physician and teen health advocate, as an expert source. Outcome Health will run the videos on their screens in tens of thousands of doctors’ offices across the country.

Intouch Opens Two New Offices

Following the current of their rapid growth, Intouch Group announced that it will open two new offices in California. Intouch Solutions will open in San Francisco and Intouch Proto in San Diego.

“With so many large and emerging biotechnology companies, the West Coast represents an exciting opportunity for expansion for us,” said Angela Tenuta, EVP Client Services, in a statement. “Our startup atmosphere and client-focused values help us attract the right people, so both locations are launching with a strong blend of experienced talent: Those who relocate—who are instilling the Intouch culture—and locals who know the landscape.” The new offices will be Intouch’s fifth and sixth U.S. locations and its seventh and eighth globally, including Kansas City, Chicago, New York, Boston, London, and Mumbai.

Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and Fitbit Tackle AFib Detection

BMS and Pfizer will work to add AFib detection software to Fitbit devices.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb-Pfizer Alliance and Fitbit announced that they will collaborate on a project to aid in the timely diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (AFib) with the aim of improving earlier detection in individuals at increased risk of stroke. The main part of the partners’ plan is to submit and receive FDA approval of AFib detection software on Fitbit watches. The detection software will ideally provide users and their physicians with data that will help spur informed discussion for better care. As part of the project, the companies also plan to develop educational content and guidance to support people at increased risk for AFib.

“At Fitbit, we’re focused on making health more accessible and, through our efforts with the BMS-Pfizer Alliance, we have the potential to support earlier detection of atrial fibrillation, a potentially asymptomatic condition that affects millions of Americans,” says James Park, Co-founder and CEO of Fitbit at the TIME 100 Health Summit in New York. “With our continuous, 24/7 on-wrist health tracking capabilities, and our experience delivering personalized, engaging software and services, we believe we can develop content to help bridge the gaps that exist in atrial fibrillation detection, encouraging people to visit their doctor for a prompt diagnosis and potentially reduce their risk of stroke.”

Pear and Ironwood Partner to Develop Prescription Digital Therapeutics

Pear Therapeutics, a leader in Prescription Digital Therapeutics (PDTs), announced a partnership with Ironwood Pharmaceuticals to create PDTs for treating certain gastrointestinal dysfunctions.

“This agreement represents an attractive opportunity to develop first-in-class products that could help patients with GI diseases reach better outcomes,” said Tom McCourt, President of Ironwood, in a statement. “At Ironwood, we are committed to helping patients with GI diseases, and are excited about exploring the potential of this innovative new treatment modality.”

The partnership will leverage Pear’s one-of-a-kind clinically validated software-based therapeutics platform. Pear’s main product, reSET for the treatment of Substance Use Disorder, was the first PDT to receive marketing authorization from the FDA for disease treatment.

Reuters Acquires eyeforpharma

Thomson Reuters acquired FC Business Intelligence (FCBI), a global business-to-business events specialist. Part of this acquisition includes eyeforpharma, which will continue to offer reputable knowledge and authentic leadership to the pharma sector. FCBI will be rebranded as Reuters Events and operate under the Reuters News division of Thomson Reuters.

“This acquisition allows us to combine Reuters globally trusted brand, scale, and editorial excellence with FCBI’s deep expertise in highly specialized events for professionals,” said Michael Friedenberg, President, Reuters, in a statement. “As Reuters Events, they will help us to accelerate our growth and deliver on our mission to provide trusted intelligence that helps humans and machines make smart decisions.”

Sparx is Cutting the Stigma Around Cannabis

The “Marijuana Anti-Schwag Dog Commercial” from Sparx.

To garner awareness for their high-quality cannabis product, Sparx Cannabis named October Sparx Awareness Month. Each week, Sparx released a video poking fun at anti-marijuana public service announcements of the past. The first video, featuring the infamous disappointed, stick-figure dog, was named “Marijuana Anti-Schwag Dog Commercial.” In the video, the anti-drug dog was ashamed of his owner’s pot smoking and instead promoted high-quality cannabis products from Sparx, the family-owned and California-grown cannabis lifestyle company. Other videos included “Your Brain on Sparx Commercial” and “I Learned by Watching You Commercial.” All can be viewed on Sparx Cannabis’ Instagram, Facebook, and website.

“When it comes to marketing in the cannabis industry, you have to get creative and this is exactly what we did with Sparx Awareness Month,” said Sparx Cannabis President, Dr. Jared Helfant, in a statement. “The PSA videos are hilarious takes on famous anti-drug commercials. These were created to not only bring attention to our high-quality Sparx Cannabis products, but to also have a lasting impact that resonates with today’s cannabis consumer. Sparx Awareness Month is the first of many unique marketing ideas we are executing to help organically increase the awareness of the brand. We see this as one way to overcome some of the advertising restrictions imposed on cannabis businesses while further removing the negative stigma associated with consumption.”

Sparx may have been the first to name an awareness month and tout its unique product with a novel campaign, but as the cannabis market continues to grow, marketing tactics will spread and evolve. California is the global leader in the legal marijuana market; they are on track to reach $3.1 billion in sales by the end of 2019.

Bio-Techne Invests in Recombinant Proteins

As gene and cell therapies become increasingly popular for pharma, Minnesota-based Bio-Techne announces that it will invest between $40 million and $50 million for a new plant specifically for large-scale production. The recombinant protein producer is expanding in order to meet demand, especially for materials like E. coli-derived recombinant proteins.

One reason for the expansion is to keep up with the increasing number of clinical trials for treatments based on CAR-T, hematopoietic, and other stem cells. Company executives are concerned that the global supply of recombinant protein for cell therapy production will not keep up with demand as is.

“As the promising science behind emerging cell and gene therapy applications continues to demonstrate therapeutic effectiveness, the focus must now be on supply and scale,” Dave Eansor, Bio-Techne’s President of the Protein Sciences Segment, said in a statement. Bio-Techne isn’t the only drugmaker focusing their investments on gene and protein therapies. Pfizer recently put approximately $500 million towards erecting gene manufacturing facilities in North Carolina.

Medtronic Launches Deep Brain Stimulation Smartphone Treatments

Medtronic released a Samsung smartphone app to help patients manage their deep brain stimulator (DBS) implants at home. The company reports more than 150,000 patients with DBS implants, many for Parkinson’s treatment, can now use the FDA-approved Activa app to better manage and engage with their treatment. Physicians can also use the program for ease of access to their patient’s data. The system includes a network-connected smartphone handset—which is what allows data to be uploaded and shared with clinical staff—plus hardware that communicates with the patient’s DBS implant wirelessly.

“The new Patient Programmer builds out an end-to-end solution between patient and healthcare provider with the DBS Clinician Programmer and Activa Programming Application,” said Mike Daly, Vice President and General Manager of Medtronic’s Brain Modulation Business, in a statement. “With this device, patients gain confidence, as they are able to discreetly manage their DBS therapy no matter where they are.”

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