iPhones could revamp pharma marketing

Pharma coming to an iPhone near you? Apparently, there's an app for that. As Advertising Age notes, iPhone users will soon be able to track their vital signs--blood pressure, glucose level, etc.--and if drugmakers know what's good for them, their marketing efforts won't be far behind. Can you imagine the flood of data that could be forthcoming from the ubiquitous little gadgets? And the promo pieces that could find pre-qualified targets?

And then there's the fact that medical apps are so important these days, Georgetown med school students have to carry either an iPhone or an iPod Touch. Methinks iPhone detailing is definitely in their futures. Merck is probably already developing the appropriate e-promos.

Already, Johnson & Johnson is developing apps for iPhones. An ex-marketing director for Bristol-Myers Squibb told AdAge that Big Pharma could create big-time brand loyalty by doing the same. Consider a blood-glucose tracking app developed by Novo Nordisk or Eli Lilly: It could help patents interpret their numbers--and could serve as a compliance minder, with the company pinging app users about taking their meds or visiting their doctors, Michael Guarini of Flaum Communications told the ad pub.

"This is a seminal moment for the pharmaceutical industry," Tim Gee, principal of Medical Connectivity Consulting, said in the AdAge article. "The trend to incorporate more medical devices into consumer electronics is going to explode."

Potential problem: the FDA. Already behind the curve when it comes to marketing guidelines for online media, the agency will have to scramble even faster to catch up to promo-slash-helpful apps on the iPhone. Can the agency do it? And how can pharma embrace the technology in the meantime? Let us know what you think.

- see the AdAge story