Public Relations: Beef Up Clinical Trial Numbers - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Public Relations: Beef Up Clinical Trial Numbers
Web-based public relations can make the difference in clinical-trial recruitment.


Pharmaceutical Executive


Enrollment Spikes

More than 500 fliers and brochures were mailed to physicians, patients, and department support staff at sponsoring hospitals in the five markets. Information was distributed at events that targeted lung cancer patients and providers, such as the Lung Run in Chicago, Lung Cancer Awareness Month lectures, and local patient-information sessions. Locally and nationally distributed news releases garnered coverage in key trade publications and local newspapers, and on patient Web sites such as Gilda's Club and Wellness Centers, http://cancercare.com/, and http://cancer.org/. Total enrollment in the Phase II trial increased from zero to 34 in just 10 months.

In this case, the company opted not to use advertising, but chose to rely exclusively on public relations and online communications as its outbound marketing tools. This strategy worked because of the educational component implicit in public relations and the Internet. Rather than appealing to potential patients via paid advertising, messages were conveyed via third-party channels where the messages resonated, and those channels targeted the right messages to the right patients.

Public relations and online communications can be important tools for successful trial recruitment and enrollment. Trials are complex experiments. Patients often have a lot of anxiety about considering being part of a trial. Advertising alone, besides being expensive, cannot convey enough information to overcome those hurdles. PR can.

John Smith is senior vice president and director of healthcare at Manning, Selvage & Lee. He can be reached at


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