Boehringer Ingelheim lets Facebook game loose

Well it's live, the Facebook game everyone has been waiting for. Well, at least some people in the pharmaceutical business.

It is called "Syrum," and it is the computer game from Boehringer Ingelheim that the company hopes will entertain, bring it some new Facebook friends, educate a little and maybe even draw some talent, PMLive reports.

Actually, Thursday's launch at the Science Museum in London is just of a beta version that gets the game into some hands so the company can see how it performs before expanding it, Boehringer's director of digital John Pugh tells PMLive. The global launch will occur in March at SXSW, the music festival in Austin, TX, which also has become something of a new technology event.

PMLive describes the game as akin to a cross between a card game like "Pokémon" and a Facebook game like "Farmville." The object is for players to solve a problem--e.g., a pandemic--via drug development, all the way from early discovery through clinical trials and launch. The game does not include any of the company's therapies, Pugh says, in an effort to "keep it clean."

Boehringer has been toying with gaming for several years. It funded a Facebook game for the Diabetes Hands Foundation and in a more ambitious undertaking, used "gamification" in conjunction with the research community Kaggle to quickly produce academic-standard predictive data models, PMLive says.

Where this will all lead is not obvious but competitors will probably watch closely to see if it leads to places they would like to go. And Pugh is determined. "We spend quite a lot of time and energy on our social media channels and this is another part of that, where we create a whole integrated framework."

- here's the PMLive story

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