McCann Health puts drug resistance, mental health on its brain trust's priority list

United Nations flags flying in session
With pharma communication challenges conflated in era of rapid scientific advances, McCann Health's scientific council discussed strategies at the United Nations last week. (CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

McCann Health sees its nascent science brain trust as a way to tackle big issues—and help its pharma clients along the way. And last week, in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly in New York, it laid out some top priorities.

Officially launched in April, McCann Health's Global Scientific Council will concentrate on four areas: antimicrobial resistance, mental health, obesity, and precision medicine and big data. The scientific think tank across McCann has already resulted in tangible benefits for pharma clients, said Charlie Buckwell, president of the council, in an email interview.

RELATED: McCann Health hires first global digital chief, emphasizing growth and importance of digital

Free Daily Newsletter

Like this story? Subscribe to FiercePharma!

Biopharma is a fast-growing world where big ideas come along daily. Our subscribers rely on FiercePharma as their must-read source for the latest news, analysis and data on drugs and the companies that make them. Sign up today to get pharma news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

“Our scientific teams are now connected across the globe in a way they were not able to be previously,” he said, adding that “the biggest opportunity seems to be to help our clients move at pace, and drive more learning in less time than ever before.”

The event in New York included a panel discussion about the challenges of communications when advances in science are moving rapidly, and included EMD Serono's chief medical officer in North America, Zhen Su. FiercePharma talked to Su after the event, and he noted the need today to simplify, streamline and speed communications to doctors and patients.

“We’re living in era where the quality of science is exploding and the channels to access this information are increasingly complex. Patients are not only getting information from their physician, but also from the internet and many other places. This is a massive sea change we haven’t seen before,” he said.

Pharma’s job to disseminate information still works best through physicians, because they remain the most reliable and trusted conduit to patients, Su said. Companies should work to build trust with doctors and then deliver information quickly in an understandable and approachable format that can be conveyed to the patient.

RELATED: McCann Health fires chief creative officer over conduct code violation

“A white cell count doesn’t mean anything to a patient. You need to process that into, Does that mean a fever or infection or does it mean pain?” Su said “… Our information has to be meaningful to the patient, so they can use it to guide treatment, to take medicine, to be more compliant and also to be able to monitor side effects which is important in patient outcomes.”

John Cahill, the global CEO at McCann Health, added via email that communicating understandable and approachable information can be achieved through evidence-based storytelling.

“The true basis of effective, evidence-based understanding is conversation, not presentation—as an industry, we need to seek better understanding and involvement with evidence through the tools of conversation,” he said.