Social media before Facebook
Long before Dr. Pardo and Walker took to Twitter, Teva and InTouch Solutions, a Kansas-based digital marketing agency, launched
http://MSWatch.com/. The site functioned as a resource and community for patients living with MS. Matthew Goyer, VP of client services at InTouch,
said patients signing up on http://MSWatch.com/ "not only had the ability to interact with the content provided by Teva—all the tips and suggestions and everything else
to help manage their MS—but there were also methodologies where they could interact with each other through the patient forum."
Asked why the platform was discontinued—it lives on in Canada, in limited form, at http://MSWatch.ca/—Teva's Hassler says the company is "proud to have been an innovator in developing this online community," but "as the social
media landscape evolved, it enabled the MS community to expand the conversation beyond industry platforms."
The patient section of the Canadian site, dubbed MS Oasis, bills itself as a "safe place for the patients and caregivers in
the MS community to log treatment and connect with one another." Individuals registering on the website are asked to choose
a bird avatar, and then "perch in the tree where you can find resources in the birdhouses and check in on fellow Sanctuary
members." There's also a rewards system where visitors "can earn badges just by keeping up with appointments and therapy."
When Pharm Exec visited the site, seven "birds" were chirping in the sanctuary, ostensibly meaning seven people were logged in. Unless users
create a therapy journal, there doesn't appear to be a way to communicate directly other than to "chirp" at someone else,
similar to liking them on Facebook. Of the birds in the sanctuary when Pharm Exec arrived, none were reachable beyond a chirp.
Teva's Derkacz says Copaxone participates in all of the standard digital marketing channels, including CRM and database marketing,
search optimization, display towers and banners, rich media, et cetera, but emphasizes that digital is not a silver bullet.
"We're not taking a big gamble on one new innovative idea...we're making sure that we surround the patient and physician with
what Copaxone is and what it can do," says Derkacz. "Let them pick the channel and the content they want to consume at the
time they want to consume it."
The iTracker app lets patients record injection sites to aid in proper rotation.
Teva's Copaxone iTracker app, which anyone can download for free from the iTunes and Android stores, helps patients manage
the injection routine—it's important to rotate the injection site—as well as set therapy reminders and receive prescription
refill alerts, among other things. Derkacz says the wow factor for a prescription drug companion app is gone—"almost everyone's
got an app"—but says iTracker "has been very well received by patients."
In April, Teva and Intouch launched a new "webTracker" tool which Goyer says is complimentary to iTracker, in that it allows
patients who register with Shared Solutions to login to webTracker and track "not just their injections but their overall
feeling of well-being and current state of health." The webTracker tool helps patients figure out what to do if they forget
a dose or use the wrong injection site, says Goyer. "We developed an algorithm, approved by Teva's regulatory staff, that
automatically provides the next step for the patient," he says. "It's a tool that's a lot smarter than the tools have been
in the past."
On the physician side, Intouch partnered with Harrison & Star, Teva's professional and direct-to-patient agency, for content
and sales messaging materials used by sales reps in the field. Those materials are "all in a digital format and available
to reps on the iPad," says Goyer. Mardene Miller, president at H&S, says the physician audience for MS—primarily neurologists—are
"more the cerebral type," which seems fitting. "They're also very practical in terms of their clinical view, and they're very
patient-oriented," says Miller. Teva fields a team of roughly 200 reps servicing around 7,000 neurologists in the US, says
For the Copaxone 40mg launch, H&S developed new creative for both physicians and patients aimed at "reinforcing the overall
Copaxone brand promise of trust and experience," says Kathleen Murphy, SVP, group account supervisor at H&S. "Coming soon"
ads launched last October, three months prior to approval. The MS community is an active one, says Murphy, and they engage
in a variety of digital channels. "But I don't want to underestimate the importance of the personal touch that Shared Solutions
has with patients," she says.