When Marketing is a Higher Calling

careI am not involved in marketing religious products, and trust me when I say that there is no divine intervention lending a hand as I write this. Instead, my higher calling is to market therapies and diagnostics in cancer, HIV and other difficult-to-treat disease states.

What drives a desire to market drugs in these disease states?

Let’s look at the oncology space in the US. Today, there are nearly 12 million living Americans who have received a diagnosis of cancer. They’ve heard those terrifying words, “You have cancer.” Or, “It’s back.” For a small few, cancer has become a chronic disease. But for the majority of patients, the struggle continues on. It’s that struggle that’s driven a unique partnership and bond between patients, caregivers and industry that allows us to dream of how we might impact the course of these diseases.

The hepatitis category is a fast-changing landscape, and is starting to follow many of the practices of both oncology and HIV marketing. As new and more tolerable treatment options become available, so too will the need for better and more comprehensive HCP and patient interaction. Therefore, how we work with all of these audiences is critical.

Why we do what we do

We’re marketers. As such, we still look to position our brand for success, striving to outperform our competitive set. We build a compelling plan and programs for our clients and brands that showcase the data, but also start to touch on the very human element of these diseases.

As a young girl I fondly remember 3 of my mother’s friends—all diagnosed with breast cancer. We lost each of them far too early in their lives. My memories are strong. I remember each of them losing their hair, the swelling of arms and fluid retention with removal of lymph nodes, and dealing with the loss of their breast(s)—both emotionally and physically. What I also remember is the rallying cry that went out from my mom and her friends. Together, they would do whatever was needed, divvying up chores for these women—helping to cook meals, do laundry, carpool kids and service basic human needs. For each of us who end up and stay in this space, there is a human element that is personal and has touched our own lives, so we feel the need to give back.

Giving back

Pharma/biotech companies and agencies alike get the occasional black eye for our deeds and misdeeds.  However in the cancer space I applaud my colleagues—we give back. In cancer care we see compassion and dedication that transcends brand, product and company. We walk to raise both money and awareness, we deliver hot meals, we paint and decorate infusion suites, we support various campaigns that allow patients to express themselves (art, writing, music, etc) and we provide tools and materials that hopefully make life a little bit easier for patient and caregiver. We give back and try to respond to that higher calling we’ve been charged with. With these small gestures we try to touch a life, we hope to impact a life. But in the end, it’s our own lives that are forever changed, forever impacted.

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