PharmExec Blog

Novo Nordisk Launches Branded Twitter Campaign

Novo Nordisk, last week, officially launched its branded Twitter site “Race with Insulin” to keep patients aware of the day-to-day happenings in the life of indie racer Charlie Kimball.

Using the social networking tool, Kimball openly talks about what it’s like to live with Type 1 diabetes and tweets about using Novo Nordisk’s Levemir (insulin detemir) to treat the disease.

Twitter, for those not in the know, is a mini-blog system that allows users to post short-form blurbs for their followers to read. A tweet is slang for the actual post. Novo Nordisk and its agency Biosector 2 did not work with Twitter to establish the site. The account was created for free just like any other Twitter account and updated directly from Kimball’s iPhone.

Online Gamble

Pharma companies have been reluctant to embrace social media tools such as Twitter due to the newness of the technology and to FDA’s reluctance to release clear and concise guidelines as to how pharma can use sites like Twitter.

A few months back, FDA issues 14 warning letter to pharma companies that were improperly posting online text ads. According to FDA, pharma can either create a branded ad and not state the disease state, or create an informational ad with no mention of the brand—not even in the URL.

Novo Nordisk trained Kimball to never write about the brand in the same tweet as the disease state.  Besides that direction, Kimball has free reign to write about anything he wants. The Twitter account was publically announced last week, but the account has been active for about a month so the pharma company could work out any kinks.

“Part of the reason this site works is because we have Charlie,” Ambre Morley, associate director of product communications at Novo Nordisk. “He has become the face of our brand and we are very transparent that the site is sponsored by Novo Nordisk.”

The Twitter page has prescribing information in the top left corner and any tweet that mentions the brand name has a link to the risk/benefit summary. The company said that its constantly working on the site, and currently Kimball is not accepting any friends (or following anyone).

“All companies, by and large, are looking at new media,” Morley said. “We’re kicking the tires, but I think every company is going to have to find a way to do new media effectively and make sure that it we stay within the regulatory requirements.”

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